The perennial classic “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, appropriate first introduced by icon Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis suggests that we “make the Yuletide gay” though in modern times, it would be more appropriate to note that “gays make the Yuletide.” (Warning, rampant stereotyping coming post haste.)
All of the trappings of modern secular celebrations of Christmas play directly to the industries and arts in which members of the LGBT community have a far larger statistical representation than in the general public. Party planning, interior decorating, food and wine, the performance arts of dance, music and theatre and everything remotely associated with retail from gift wrapping and displays to personal shopping for the perfect gifts.
“The gays” deck the halls, trim the trees, put on the shows, host the perfect parties or attend in the most festive of ensembles bringing wit and amusement worthy of Oscar Wilde to any holiday fete bringing the best dishes, the greatest conversation and general merriment all around. Whether others realize it or not, gays make Christmas look, sound, feel and taste – like Christmas. Just consider tinsel – it was invented purely to make already festive decorations even shinier and you can’t even say it without lisping that S a little harder than necessary.
However, in between the fun and fantasy of donning our gay apparel, for many in the LGBT community, the wonder and joy of Christmas is a bittersweet time. Certainly there are those who are loved, accepted and celebrated fully by family and there are others who have made the choice to not have a relationship with family members who do not accept them. For those who are somewhere in between those two extremes, the moments some consider the “reason for the season” can be a social and emotional series of questions with complicated and difficult answers to be navigated every holiday season.
I want to see my family, but will my boyfriend be invited? My girlfriend is invited, but begrudgingly, do we stay with my family? Can we afford to stay somewhere else? How long do we stay? I’ll see the family, but do I go to the gathering with the extended family and suffer the series of “how come a wonderful girl hasn’t snatched you up yet?” questions? Is this the year I drop the “I’m gay” bomb off at the big holiday party? Do I hold my tongue when they comment on my haircut as unladylike? Suggest I tone down my mannerisms? Do I attend the Christmas Eve service? Or mass at the church I felt so rejected by in order for the whole family to be together? Do I deliver an ultimatum? Maybe just one more year of coming without her. Without him. I’ll come right before Christmas and leave right after. Maybe if I have kids it will be different. I’ll just not bring up politics. Or my relationships. Or anything about my life. I’ll just grin and bear it. They’re my family, for a few days I can make them happy even if it doesn’t make me happy.
For those whose family relationships are either wonderful or non-existent, it can seem like a self-created series of problems. However, if you buy into the reason for the season – religious or secular – of giving with nothing expected in return, sometimes trying to give in ways that cannot be wrapped in packages requires more than you might expect. It may go unnoticed, and it may go unappreciated. Of course, that is the nature of love, isn’t it?
The holidays can be wonderful and challenging for any and all for myriad reasons, but to my fellow LGBT community members making difficult decisions to show love and bring light where it may not be returned for familial, religious or sundry other reasons, I wish you, and all of us, joy.
Don your gayest apparel and enjoy the season, even if it is a series of compromises that makes everyone somewhat happy if not completely. After all, if we get everything we want, what is there to wish for next year?
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And a Blessed Christmahanakwanzika to you and yours, however you choose to spend it!