Shameless web editor and blogger Cate Simpson has written a great post over at This Magazine about the difficulties the holiday season holds for queer people who don’t always feel welcome at the family table, which I highly recommend you check out:
For some, it’s that they simply can’t go home — either because they were shown the door after their first adolescent fumblings were met with more than the usual amount of horror, or because they’ve fled their small towns for urban centres and can’t afford the trip back. For others, it’s that they themselves are still welcome at the family dinner table, but evidence of their “alternative” lifestyles must be toned down for everyone else’s comfort levels. For many queers, this means enduring questions about the dates they’re supposedly going on with members of the opposite sex, while questions about their true spouses are conspicuously absent.
Simpson suggests that because of this kind of tension, queers have led the way in terms of forming alternative holiday traditions. And the idea of reclaiming the holidays from the clutches of Wal-Mart and the annual family bicker-fest is looking like a better and better idea to lots of people.
I myself didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas so I suppose I’m lucky in that the holiday season has always been a time for me to construct my own rituals while others were out performing theirs, willingly or not; for many years my Jew-mas tradition involved my best friend and I going to 7-11 for takeout coffees (it was the only place open on Dec. 25th) and driving around marvelling at the eerily empty streets of Winnipeg, followed by a screening of Monty Python’s The Life of Brian at my parents’ house.
Although Christmas itself doesn’t have any real meaning to me personally, it’s hard to avoid its all-pervasiveness if you live in North America, but these days I’m really appreciating the reality shift that inevitably happens this time of year (time off of work and school, people leaving and coming to town), and trying to take advantage of it to celebrate my chosen and provisional family. I know not everyone has the same freedom I do to skip out on Xmas traditions - and hey, some people really like Christmas, and that’s dandy - but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that, whether you celebrate the holidays traditionally, alternatively, or not at all, it’s a great time to use this bizarre gift North American culture has given us for good not evil, and do something to mark the bonds we’ve made with the people we care about. My plan is to shred a bag of potatoes and fry up enough latkes to feed all my friends who aren’t leaving town for the holidays, in a celebration of starch and its symbolism as that-which-is-sticking-us-together (and that-which-is-making-us-run-to-the-all-night-pharmacy-for-metamucil, but that’s another holiday altogether).
So, do you have a special holiday tradition? How are you queering Christmas?