Growing up, Christmas was fun and presents were great but it always involved a lot of family drama. Compared to my Christmas-crazed friends, I honestly didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. That steadily changed as I ascended into adulthood and started to honor my own traditions. Now that I’m in my mid-30s, I’m more than a little Christmas obsessed.
16 years ago, when my partner and I got together, we reclaimed Christmas into a secular holiday that queerly centers our chosen family and is filled with holiday treats, fun outings, and flamboyant decorations. Make The Yuletide Gay our rainbow Christmas cards said this year — after, all how could Santa be anything other than a gay bear with his polished leather boots? I even wrote a novel about the joy of Queermas (as I like to call the season) and might have spent last weekend setting up a nine-foot inflatable rainbow complete with Santa riding a unicorn in our front yard alongside light-up dinosaurs, elephants, and other holiday decor that makes our (thankfully not homophobic/transphobic) neighbors driving by literally stop and cheer. Christmas shared with my little queer family is the highlight of the year for me, and I am thrilled that, in a year as weird as 2020, I get a new and very queer holiday album to play on repeat.
I have been a fan of Mary Lambert’s music since I first heard her “Same Love” collaboration with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Her unapologetic queer, fat, and femme representation is something that we so seldom see celebrated in queer culture, let alone in the mainstream music industry. Unsurprisingly, representation is something Lambert thinks a lot about too. When I asked her why it’s important for there to be a holiday album specifically for the LGBTQ+ community she responded: “I think music is universal, but there is something really neat about seeing yourself represented in a genre that has been traditionally dominated by cis-het folks. To hear two queer people sing about kissing and hugging while making Christmas cookies is something I would have loved to hear when I was younger! Music is about possibility and imagination and feeling, and when you embody an identity that is rarely reflected in such a popular genre, it can feel at best like you don’t matter and at worst like you don’t exist. It’s really just about saying ‘Hey! We’re here! This is what the holidays look and feel like to me!'”
Lambert’s new holiday album is brilliantly titled “Happy Holigays” — the perfect name for a delightful collection of queer holiday music. The album is short, only five songs, but they cover a wide range of styles and inspirations, from country to opera and everything in between. There really is something for every gay to sign along to. (My favorite song is “Christmas Cookies” for its queer playfulness — all wrapped up in festive twang — about lovingly eating your sweetie’s sugar cookies. So relatable!)
The first single released from Mary Lambert’s new holiday collection is titled “Seasonal Depression.”
This is a different sort of Christmas song which, in a year like 2020, is exactly what a lot of people, especially anyone who is struggling a bit (or a lot) around the holiday season, need. When asked about the single, Lambert explained “My ethos as an artist is to make art that is helpful. I want to use the tools I have — vulnerability, experience, empathy — and create works that have a function. Sometimes that function is subversive, and sometimes, as with ‘Seasonal Depression,’ that function is direct. It’s meant to be a song to help you remember ways you can take care of yourself when you feel panicked or scared or sad. I made a list once of things I can do when I am having a panic attack, and this song is an iteration of that list! Take your meds if you take meds! Did you eat something today? Eat a snack! Feeling lonely? Call a friend! Sometimes we all just need a little reminder, myself included.” If that doesn’t scream tender queer holiday anthem, I don’t know what does!
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, and for Lambert, that means the perfect time to be releasing a holiday album specifically for queer folks. “I know it’s mega-cliché, but I wanted all folks — especially queer listeners — to not feel alone. This has been one of the hardest years for almost everyone I know,” she says. “This year has been a steaming mountain of trash and pain. And any person in our society who is ‘othered’ — specifically queer, BIPOC, or anyone who deals with mental health issues — is likely already dealing with a lot on their plate because of the way our society treats them.”
“Happy Holigays” was released November 28th and is available wherever music is sold/streamed. You can even pick up a commemorative ornament online at Lambert’s shop.