Bursting Through: Holiday Queer
By Steve Petersen
When you are queer, the holiday season is a time for family, your favorite foods and the underlying feeling that you will never belong. This season is difficult at best for most people, add being queer to that mix and more times than not it’s going to stir up a lot of unexpected and unwelcomed emotions.
It’s no wonder that every queer I know loves Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We identify with Rudolph being bullied and discounted for being different, we identify with Hermey for wanting to be something more than what he was told to be, AND we are all kindred spirits with every toy on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Who among us did not wish for a Charlie In The Box, a Spotted Elephant or to provide a home for Dolly, whose problem was psychological, caused from being abandoned by her mistress, Sue. Dolly was depressed from feeling unloved and if anyone could understand that, it’s us.
One of Bursting Throughs’ objectives is to put a little more love into the world. This holiday season, I am challenging you to do that by embracing and owning your queerness and putting it right under the Christmas tree. Give the people you love the gift of the world through your eyes and let this be the year the queer escape from that feeling of being a misfit.
This idea was inspired by an event I hosted with my family for my 50th birthday. As my 50th birthday approached, I was asked how I wanted to celebrate. I said I wanted to have a fundraiser for The Matthew Shepard Foundation. I had reasons for this beyond just raising money for a fierce organization.
I’ve always felt connected to Matthew and knew it was nothing but dumb luck that kept me from encountering the same fate in Iowa. I had never really talked about that truth or made it a reality for my family or friends but now I wanted them to look at the world through my eyes as a queer man, if only for a moment. My hope was that by them taking that moment it could open up a dialogue that had not been opened before. The event was called Skate Against Hate and it laid the foundation for Bursting Through.
That said, Bursting Through has come up with some gift ideas The idea is to give a gift that feels good to you, to the recipient, offers a view into your world and leaves you both with a little more understanding and love for each other.
Give In Their Name
Many people like to donate money to a charity or nonprofit around the holidays so you might be thinking this isn’t new, but consider thinking about it another way. Maybe your parents or siblings have never reallly thought about donating to a queer charity. I don’t think mine had before Skate Against Hate. It’s not because they wouldn’t have, it’s just that they had never thought about it and I had never really introduced them to any organization that was important to me. If you make a donation in your family members’ name, it gets them on the organization’s mailing list, allows you to share supporting the same cause and may open up a conversation about why it’s important to you. Maybe your family member wants to have this shared interest but has never known how to approach the topic with you?
Here are my top 5 organizations, two national and three local organizations. If you are not in Vegas, look into your community for organizations. Use these or pick an organization that is important to you.
- The Matthew Shepard Foundation
- The Trevor Project
- Las Vegas PRIDE
- The LGBTQ+ Center of Southern Nevada
- The Las Vegas Trans PRIDE Center
Give Back Together
Asking someone to volunteer with you is an excellent way to share something you are passionate about with someone you love. The great part about this idea is your volunteering does not have to be done around the holiday season.
You can use your creative skills to make up a certificate to give to your loved one. The certificate can explain that you would like to have a give-back day with them at your favorite queer organization. If you don’t have creative skills, I know you know someone that does. This is a great way to not only have a moment and meaningful conversation during the holiday season but to extend the conversation into the year. The organizations I am listing so incredible work and have different types of events all year long. Some events are more social (like PRIDE Family Bingo) that benefit good causes and some are more focused on working an event (like a PRIDE Festival). I bet you can find a time and event that will work for you both. Who knows, maybe this will become a tradition for you and your loved one?
Here are my top 5 organizations, two national and three local organizations:
- Free Mom Hugs (they have Dad groups too)
- Human Rights Campaign
- Las Vegas PRIDE
- LTBTQ+ Center of Southern Nevada
- The Las Vegas Trans PRIDE Center
Give From A Queer-Owned Business
Giving a gift from a Queer-owned business helps support your community and introduces your loved one to a business they might like but have never heard about. Since these businesses have online stores I am not separating local and national. (Most of the organizations listed above have stores as well. For example, The Matthew Shepard Foundation and Free Mom Hugs both have a small selection of really nice branded products, which make great gifts.)
It’s possible the holidays are tough because we realize that no matter how much we have normalized our lives to be accepted, we are still going to be from that Island of Misfits. Let’s face it, we are always going to be the Christmas Card that needs to be explained to the neighbors or bring a dessert that sparks the question, “Who made this?” Instead of being frustrated, annoyed or drunk about it, turn it around and own it by giving the gift of queerness. Use your power to decide how you want your time with your family to be over the holidays and throughout the year. Giving a gift that shares something about yourself is good for your soul. Remember that you don’t belong on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Happy Holidays. Take care, stay safe, speak out and be brave.