Don We Now Our Queer Apparel

It’s time for my annual queer Christmas post.

Because it is that time of year. The time when, to quote Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick:

“…it’s the time when all the institutions are speaking with one voice[…] The media, in turn, fall in triumphally behind the Christmas phalanx: ad-swollen magazines have oozing turkeys on the cover, while for the news industry every question turns into the Christmas question–Will hostages be free for Christmas? What did that flash flood or mass murder (umpty-ump people killed and maimed) do to those families’ Christmas? And meanwhile the pairing “families/Christmas” becomes increasingly tautological, as families more and more constitute themselves according to the schedule, and in the endlessly iterated image, of the holiday itself constituted in the image of ‘the” family.’ ”

Some of you (perhaps even some queers), reading this, might wonder, well, what’s the problem?
It’s because all of these institutions that Sedgwick lists: “religion, state, capital, ideology, domesticity, the discourses of power and legitimacy”- have all waged war on the queer.

I’m not talking about Ellen, or Oprah-and-Gayle, or all of the affluent queers who have lined up to tell us It Gets Better.

I’m talking about my lovely hair guy, The Hair Stylist who hasn’t spent Christmas with his biological family in over twenty years and doesn’t tell me why, a shadow on his face so fleeting only I, who has known him these twenty years, can see it go by.

I’m talking about the Queer Dude I met in a gay bar in Edmonton on Boxing Day, who’d been kicked out of his home the day he came out to his parents, at age 16.

I’m talking about all of my queer friends who have created traditions, some fragile, some enduring, to refashion this season of narrowed possibility.

The Hair Stylist told me about the Christmas he’ll be having with his partner, The Colour Guy, a dreamy glow in his eyes: It’s. Perfect. We. Get. A. Lot. Of. Invitations. But. We. Just. Stay. Home. And. Have. A Nice. Meal.

The Queer Dude was surrounded by friends in that bar, and had a heart that was two sizes too big. That night he offered to pay for a cab to take me to the nearest dyke bar (I was myself escaping my family for a few hours that night) and when I demurred, made sure I did not lack for martinis.

I mute the commercials, avoid the malls, cook up a storm, invite friends over, stir up delicious cocktails, eat latkes. I fortify myself for the inevitable family-palooza, with me as the prodigal daughter, and my mother, about to turn eighty-four, and in a much mellower phase of her life, at the centre of it all.

What’s family for you? How do you avoid, or remake, or endure, or ironize, or funky up the holidays?

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