Some are geographically distant from those they hold dear and raise a solitary glass to absent friends. Others have lost loved ones to the grave. But for many of us, "no contact" is a choice we consciously made. Loneliness is simply less painful than the agony of spending time with our toxic families.
Prior to the 1970s, house parties were an essential element of the homosexual social scene. Photographs of these private affairs are rare. The few that are available in archival collections memorialize a history of forced seclusion. One of the most tantalizing photographs I've come across in my research of Canadian LGBT history is of a trio of men attending a Christmas party in 1956. Standing in front of a decorated tree, a young man with a then-stylish pompadour delights in opening his gift while another man, who has his arm around him and another gentleman, looks on.
With the holidays approaching, many people tend to slow down and focus on comfort, joy, and closeness with others. We may normally think of cozy situations involving family, food, and festivities. But for many across the globe, this time of the year signifies a different type of bonding in which clothes are optional and the fire comes from deep within.
The holiday season is truly a magical time of year. It is a time for giving, reflection, and appreciation. Many individuals and organizations come together and show thanks by donating what they can to those in need. Unfortunately, the holidays will not be magical for everyone, especially not for a high proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and 2-Spirit (LGBTQ2S) youth who have experienced familial, societal, and institutional rejection. The holidays can be an especially lonely time for many, particularly for those without a safe place to call home.
The entire fitness industry decides that the best thing we can do at this time of year is attempt to make your life miserable; by telling you how many stupid things you do, how you don't exercise enough, and how you don't have any willpower. We also tell you that any kind of life enjoyment will make you over fat and probably die.
Back in 1999, a report suggested the situation could be far worse than believed in countries like the United States. In 2003, a global document concluded foodborne illness is far worse than we may have thought. In that same year, a report in Canada provided a look at only a few pathogens but revealed the situation, while not dire, could be getting worse.
When my son was a toddler, I remember a few events that I declined to attend simply because it was too complicated -- I just didn't have it in me. Looking back at the earlier years, I realize just how little people new about my son and his autism. I think our experience would have been different had others been more aware.
All of it comes with a price tag, no matter which holiday you're celebrating. Have you ever stopped to think about what else all that seasonal spending can get you? Perhaps a closer look at your budget could be the key to a different type of holiday cheer. After all, if Santa gets to travel around the world for Christmas, why can't you?