Family can be a difficult topic for the LGBTQ+ community, especially during the holidays. While much of our society is more accepting of us now than it was even 10 years ago, there are still parents who disown their children for being gay or trans. Our struggle has been an upward one, whether fighting on the streets during Stonewall or fighting for same sex marriage in the courts. We have been in a constant blitzkrieg to both assimilate and maintain a core identity that stands for pride and liberation, all while being taken seriously as a political force.
Many of us find still ourselves alone during Thanksgiving, with its dedicated emphasis on both the colonization of America and the nuclear family uniting for a traditional family feast. But Thanksgiving is also about gratitude, and we have plenty of that to go around. It’s not hard to feel the spirit of gratitude when we look at how far we have come. Additionally, we have been creating our own families for centuries; and whether these families are based on shared interests, shared locations, or shared desires, they are not exactly traditional in the Thanksgiving sense. Celebrating Thanksgiving on our own terms without ignoring the historical baggage can be a creative and empowering act.
Here are some fun ways to go about it:
Throw a queer Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving celebration online.
While Zoom is often used for boring work meetings, it is also a great way to unite people and throw digital gatherings. The pandemic has accelerated social decentralization, and online events have become a regular occurrence. So, why not throw a Thanksgiving for your online friends, or even a queer Thanksgiving for people all over the world? You may not be able to share food in person, but you can share recipes and ideas for Thanksgiving dishes that you can eat on video together. Why not recite some queer Thanksgiving poetry too?
Host an intimate Thanksgiving for your chosen family.
Thanksgiving celebrations don’t have to be huge. You can have wonderful and intimate celebration for just a few people. Whether you are celebrating with the love of your life or a chosen family of you and your two or three best friends, make it elegant and make it count. Perhaps have candlelight on the water, or decorate your food in a way that expresses your intimate connection. There is no need to have a stereotypical Thanksgiving feast. After all, our community is here to break stereotypes.
Make some wild and outrageous art.
Maybe you have an idea for a new painting that you have been too timid to show your colleagues at work. Maybe you have an exciting photography project on the horizon. Maybe you have been wanting to get into crypto and find out what this NFT craze is all about. Maybe you have an idea for a fabulously queer holiday collage or provocative sculpture. Whatever your goal or idea is, why not use Thanksgiving as an excuse to make it happen?
Revisit queer history and mash it up with Thanksgiving history. Reclaim the narrative.
Watch a heavy movie like the original “Stonewall” or “Boys Don’t Cry,” or find out about the history of the riot grrl punk scene. What would queer Thanksgiving be like if you were to rewrite the narrative? Would someone dress up as Christopher Columbus in fetish gear and get colonized in the other direction? What would their new gender be? Maybe the Pilgrims and Indians could have had a steamy orgy together. Envision Thanksgiving in a new and radical way after reflecting on how far we have advanced.
Experiment with creating new avatars in Virtual Reality.
Use this holiday to reflect on different forms of identity by exploring new modes of being. Whether you are using VR Chat, Fortnite, or a newer platform like Decentraland, you now have the ability to create avatars that look exactly like your ideal self, and you can hang out with other people on these platforms while having a special Thanksgiving in hyperspace.
Volunteer to help the needy in your community.
Thousands of people are without food to put on their table this year or a place to call home. Whether it’s cooking meals for at-risk queer youth or volunteering at a soup kitchen to help the homeless, there are many ways you can volunteer to help out. Show the needy the true meaning of Thanksgiving: love and gratitude.
Make a new friend across the world exchange gifts with them.
It could be that sexy Instagram crush that you have or the brilliant musician who replies to their posts. Whoever it is, don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone online who you feel a connection with and start up a gift exchange. There are so many unique gifts that will make people happy, and you can receive something fun too.
Have an Netflix marathon and order takeout while dancing in your living room.
If you don’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving, you shouldn’t have to. Watch that lesbian “Black Mirror” episode “San Junipero,” steamy episodes of “Orange is the New Black,” “The L Word,” or even an older film. Order Chinese food and dance to your favorite songs in your living room. You should never be forced to celebrate anything or spend time with people you don’t want to. If you want to spend Thanksgiving alone without partaking in the holiday, go for it!
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about the same old narrative. As a community, we are able to turn it into something both fun and special. As people who have historically created our own families outside of traditional gender structures, we are in a great position to reinvent Thanksgiving in various exciting ways, especially with its history of colonization and our creative spirits that find a way to make things work on our own terms. In the end, there is always something to celebrate.