I thought this might be an appropriate time of year to finally launch my blog on being a fag hag, given the popularity of the phrase “as gay as Christmas.” You may also know the common variant “as camp as Christmas.” Though by implication, the two phrases mean virtually the same thing. As in, “Oh my god, Ryan Seacrest. He’s as camp as Christmas.” (He is. Don’t deny it. It‘s in the OED.)
So in this equation:
Christmas = fun glittery stuff, merrymaking, good cheer = gay men
(Apologies to the lesbians, this equation probably implies gay men, not women.)
There is some truth to this coarse piece of pop cultural algebra. For example, I’d be hard-pressed to find a bar in London which does Christmas better than The Yard , a popular gay watering-hole in Soho. (Watering-hole… good word choice.) The Yard is — in a word — fabulous. You have your usual twinkling Christmas lights and fake, cottony snow and random branches of evergreen sticking out of the wall to recreate a wintry forest glade (read: elves, reindeer, sleigh bells). And yes, the seasonal beverage menu includes the mulled wine and rum-spiked cocoa and other such delights for the festive alcoholic. And because it’s a gay establishment, you don’t encounter the raucous drunken louts or the over-mascaraed short-skirted floozies who make you lament being in a straight bar. Instead, as the gold star at the top of the tree, you have the ueber-virile bartenders: tall, bare-chested, muscular men, wearing either regulation Russian fur hats or plush reindeer horns.
Now that, my dear, is camp as Christmas.
But there is some irony to the phrase, given that the holiday of Christmas is a mainstay for heterosexual, reproducing families, church, God, etc. In fact, what would the devout Christian right have to say about the phrase “gay as Christmas”? Is it sacrilege to compare the holy birth of our Saviour with a way of life which is immoral, unnatural, impure? You could say this phrase is the worst possible insult to the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. But then you would have to retract that statement when you remembered Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas II You album, which some sixteen-year-old demanded you buy her to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
I think the phrase “gay as Christmas” is rather a good one because it emphasizes all the positive aspects of this holiday — and many of the positive aspects of the gay stereotype. For once, being camp — or gay — isn’t necessary perjorative, or frowned upon. It’s joyous, it’s full of life and light and celebration. For once, it’s part of the mainstream, the accepted holiday which you see blazoned all over the place in sparkling letters.
So in this equation, being gay is as mainstream as Christmas — and being straight is, well, the other side, the not-Christmas.
In which case, I want in! …If only for a day. The Little Match Girl with her face pressed up against the cold window, looking in on this fabulous party, amidst the winter of straight discontent. Think of me as that Jewish kid who always wanted to celebrate Christmas because it seemed so much more fun than the dreidels and the latkes and the muttering in Hebrew. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t deny who I am. I’m straight, I can hang with straight people, I’ll hopefully marry within my Tribe one day.
But oh, to be part of that glittery kind of Christmas – the sparkling wit and high spirits and the perfect sculpted men in the plush reindeer horns who just want to provide amusing, respectful, gorgeous company. That, of course, is the universal dilemma of the fag hag.
So enjoy Christmas when it rolls around… wherever you are, with or without family, with or without friends who count as family. After all, Christmas is supposedly about love and acceptance and understanding. And it’s the one time all year when you can get away with being unabashedly camp. That goes for you Jews and non-believers in the audience, too!