Queer Columbus: Keep spirits merry and gay this holiday season

Develop your own traditions and hold your support system close this year.
Philemon Chambers and Michael Urie in “Single All the Way"
Philemon Chambers and Michael Urie in “Single All the Way"Philippe Bosse/Netflix

I’m going to be honest: I hate the holidays. 

There’s a lot of pressure on each of us to spend time with family, purchase gifts, clean the house, decorate, host guests or travel across the country. All of that work can feel really thankless when it is returned with being misgendered, given gifts that don’t align with your identity and having your partner called your “friend.” It’s rough out there. 

In an attempt to reclaim this time of gathering and celebration, I have developed a strategy for this year, and I thought I’d share it with you. I have created a Columbus Community Playlist to keep spirits high – no matter what your family is dishing up this year.   

Here are a few ideas:

Go to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium 

I don’t know what it is about animals but spending time watching the fish swim in the aquarium, the bears hibernate, and all of the nocturnal animals in the Australian exhibit scamper around lifts my mood each year.

I don’t know if it’s the many examples of gay and gender-bending animals, or the fact that they have no knowledge of our human customs, but either way, I find it restful. Spending time walking around the zoo also will help with seasonal affective disorder and general holiday malaise. 

Watch festive movies

Studio 35 has a Rocky Horror showing on Dec. 10. (If straight folks can watch Die Hard, you can do the time warp.) And then Gateway is showing holiday-themed cartoons on Dec. 17 and It’s a Wonderful Life for the rest of the month (schmaltzy I know, but I have a soft spot for it). I also recommend personalizing your own movie watching at home. My list includes Tangerine, the Christmas episode from “Pose,Single all the Way and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Pick literally any movie you want to watch and start your own holiday tradition.

Take the time to decorate

You will feel like you have more ownership of the holidays if you take the time to clean and adorn your space. And don’t hesitate to make the traditions new and weird. Get that hot pink aluminum tree (I’m still trying to convince my partner of that one), light candles and play the music you want to listen to.  You can focus on a general winter theme or take your favorite parts of decorating from when you were a kid and make those traditions your own, in your own, queer home.

Make space for your community 

If you have to attend a plethora of family gatherings, make sure you also set aside time for your community. Holiday parties that center queer folks are an important act of self-care. Spending your energy on people who are going to respect your identity and need a similar space will help raise your spirits and buoy you for those more challenging interactions. Another fantastic option is to plan a gathering for New Year’s Eve, so you can make a space for your community to dance off some of that toxic energy, compare notes on strategies with family and, most importantly, to complain. 

Yes, the holidays are a time for togetherness, but be sure to take care of yourself. I encourage you to remove one grating family gathering from your calendar to make room for your own traditions. Prioritize your own well-being and keep your support system close this season.

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