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Saturday 24 June 2017

Seasonal Recesses

Posted in: Our Communities
By Craig Young - 17th December 2016

Merry Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Summer Solstice or whatever you choose to commemorate at this time of year. Which raises a few questions around negotiating this time of year.

It used to be the case that this time of year was an empty space for LGBT individuals. Either we were estranged or exiled from our families, and our social venues and networks closed down for the holiday period. If that wasn't the case, we had a strained holiday period at home with the parents in small towns or the suburbs, longing to get away from their disapproving glances.

Over time and with changing social attitudes, people spend the period with reconciled parents and siblings, bringing their partners and children along with them if they're monogamously inclined. If not, then it's an opportunity for gay men to get additional seasonal servings (...) or servicings (...) at sex on site venues. I'm not sure how unattached lesbians deal with this particular period of the year.

Of course, given the housing crisis and pathological social underspending from our beloved government, some takatapui and whakwahine parents will be spending the Christmas with their tamariki and rangitahi in their cars, hotel accomodation, emergency shelters, with other whanau, and negotiating seasonal financial demands is difficult for them at this time of year.

I've never understood why it is that some members of our community assume that this time of year is one of universal peace and plenty. Not really. And it gets worse. At this time of year, dysfunctional and abusive families become especially violent and hellish. And again, it is not only straight relationships that fall into this nightmarish category. If you can help out an LGBT friend in such a relationship, please do so.

What do newsgatherers do at this time of the year? We go home or get in touch with our loved ones if we don't do so. We also continue to gather news, although it usually dries up somewhat during this point- at least, it does within areas of Christian religious observance. Meanwhile, Christmas is getting less christmasy as time goes on and post-Christian secularisation takes hold. I mean, how many shepherds, mangers, Baby Jesii and Holy Families have you seen around, apart from church environs?

It's different for LGBTI Jews- although Hannukah doesn't exactly map onto Christmas. It's about an historical event of liberation- how the Maccabee rebel movement held out against their Seleucid oppressors. This is commemorated through the lighting of candles on a menorah, a seven lobed candle holder and the chanting of particularly relevant liturgy. This makes it particularly poignant and relevant for LGBT Jews, given the additional liberation and oppression they've also experienced.

If you're a Wiccan, you commemorate summer solstice at this time of year. Northern Hemisphere neopagans are conversely celebrating Yuletide amidst the winter chill and snow where applicable. Wiccans do ceremonies and rituals to commemorate the natural rhythms of the year, and sampling the burgeoning and plenitude of fruits and vegetables is a way to do so if you're not meatily inclined.

Whatever festival you're celebrating, or none at all, hope it's a good one. And make it a good one for those less fortunate than yourselves.


Ryan Torok: "Finding LGBT Pride in Channukah" Jewish Journal: 26.11.2013:

Christopher Penczak: Gay Witchcraft: New York: Weiser Books: 2003.

Craig Young - 17th December 2016

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