Queering the Holidays

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The week of November 18 should be an LGBT holiday, as I see it, at least in the United States and United Kingdom. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued its ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health on November 18, 2003, the first time a court had permitted same-sex couples to marry in the United States.

Across the pond, the United Kingdom on November 18, 2003 implemented the repeal of Section 28, which since 1986 had prevented local authorities from “promoting homosexuality,” including “the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”

Such a conjunction of events seems to call for celebration. Maybe it’s my Jewish heritage, where we like our eight-day holidays, but I’d argue for a multi-day observance. Call it “LGBT Domestic Bliss Week,” in which we celebrate our marriages or other unions and our very real family relationships.

In all fairness, I have to admit a certain bias towards this week because it has personal resonance for me as well. My spouse and I wed in Massachusetts on November 18, 2006, and then spent the next few days on our honeymoon. Much as I’d like to pretend this was planned, the timing was purely coincidental, driven by our move to the state and the need to have me on her health insurance.

I’m also not in any way implying that our wedding itself should be the motivation for an international holiday—in fact, we more often celebrate the non-legal anniversary of our commitment in April. Still, it would be fun to remember our “Massaversary” as we also observe a holiday.

Here’s one possible way we could make the week into an ongoing festival:

On the Monday of the week containing November 18, we could celebrate by sending our kids to school. Yup. Real family relationships right in the schools. Those without kids could enjoy their childfree time by sleeping in, working late, or going out to dinner with a significant other or a friend.

On Tuesday, we could do our laundry. Personally, that’s a big part of my “homosexual lifestyle” right there. It could also be a day for giving thanks that we still get along with our spouses or partners even if we each fold shirts differently or hang the toilet paper in a different direction. Domestic bliss is built on accommodating such differences.

Wednesday is a day for family reading, preferably books that are LGBT inclusive or in some other way reflect one of our many identities—or another identity about which we want to know more.

Thursday is back to the chores with a symbolic Cleaning of the Closets.

On Friday, we pick up on Thursday’s activity, and drop off used clothing at a local charity or coat drive – to show that LGBT people give back to our communities at large, too.

Saturday is family movie night. Preface it with a family baking hour when you make chocolate chip cookies or brownies to eat with the film. Bonus holiday goodwill if you fall asleep snoring next to your beloved or kids.

Sunday is a day for community, for appreciating those around us, LGBT and allies, who make our domestic bliss a little more blissful. Invite friends over for brunch or a brisk fall walk.

I’m not suggesting everyone follow these exact ideas. Part of the spirit of the week could be that each family gets to decide for itself what “domestic bliss” means and how to celebrate it. Those who are single and child-free could celebrate with friends or honor their solitude.

I don’t know if this week will ever become an actual holiday—I write partly tongue in cheek because the sheer ordinariness of domestic life contrasts sharply with the extraordinariness of the steps we’ve had to take to secure our right to be domestic.

The point is, too, that it is important for us as LGBT people to enter the broader holiday season with a sense of flexibility, adaptation, and a willingness to incorporate our own experiences as LGBT people.

Holiday times can be stressful, as we deal with travel, family gatherings, extra food preparation, and gift buying. For LGBT families, it can also mean time spent with relatives who aren’t always accepting of us and our children—or at the very least, being awash in holiday imagery that doesn’t include families like ours. We therefore shouldn’t be afraid to make up our own family traditions and observances, or to give old ones new twists.

Many Jewish people this year, for example, are observing the once-in-a-lifetime conjunction of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah with a plethora of new food combinations (for example, turkey stuffed with cubes of challah, a traditional Jewish celebration bread). We LGBT families, of whatever religious and cultural background, should similarly blend our LGBT heritage with our other identities to create a holiday season that is meaningful for us.

Not all of us LGBT folks take the domestic path, of course, and that is fine if it is a personal choice. Even for those of us who do, however, it is important not to lose sight of the spirit that started us on the road to equality. However we may celebrate this week and the coming holiday season, may we bring to it a spirit of inventiveness, individuality, persistence, and all that makes us “queer.”

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian (mombian.com), an award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBT parents.


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