Following Boris’ tier 4 announcement on Saturday there was a mass exodus of Londoners who fled the capital to spend Christmas with their families. Despite this, as many as 1.7 million people will spend Christmas alone this year, and amongst the LGBTQI+ community – who are more likely to turn to ‘chosen’ families on Christmas Day due to experiences of exclusion or phobia – this year will be especially difficult. 1 in 8 LGBTQI+ people will see their biological families less than once a year, and restrictions on household mixing will leave many LGBTQI+ people looking at a lonely Christmas.
At the beginning of the first lockdown, we set up the Queer House Party. The idea behind it was to provide a space where once a week queers across the globe could virtually come together and get the same sense of community and belonging found in LGBTQI+ spaces and venues. At its inception, the Zoom party attracted thousands of people each week. Months on, the reasons for our success are clear; we’re camp, radical, accessible, DIY and community-focused – and our Christmas day event will be no different.
With this in mind, this December we’ve decided to throw our monthly event on Christmas day, and here’s why…
1. Christmas Day is kind of shit
It’s not a secret that, like NYE, Christmas has ‘tragic anti-climax’ energy built into its core. Every part of Christmas exaggerates and warps social relations to push tensions and exclusions to the front, and for queer people, this can be especially potent. The queer community is less likely to spend Christmas with family, less likely to feel comfortable and included within Christmas ‘traditions’ (e.g. office parties, religious activities), and, for people who’ve been ostracized from other Christmases in their past, this is not an occasion that brings back fond memories.
People with lives that don’t fit into conventional norms can find Christmas not only exclusive but full of traumatic memories. While this isn’t true of everyone, we think it’s pretty vital that people have access to community and the opportunity for non-Christmas-themed joy on the 25th – whether it’s as a break from the mayhem, as the end to an extravagant day spent in the bath, or a bit of a safe space during a difficult time.
Every part of Christmas exaggerates and warps social relations to push tensions and exclusions to the front, and for queer people, this can be especially potent.
One important potential that queerness has is in highlighting and problematizing what appears to be normal, embedded parts of everyday life. Queer people have been doing this for centuries, and this has helped to create possibilities outside of nuclear, heteronormative families, outside of gender binaries, outside of extractive patriarchal relationships with the natural world. We hope that by throwing a queer rave on Christmas day, we’ll be adding a contribution to the problematization of the actual shitness that is Christmas Day.
2. Queer isolation during COVID-19
As a result of living in a heteronormative society, many queer people grow up with a sense of shame that bleeds into their everyday life. Because of this, we’re more likely to suffer from mental health issues, misuse substances, drink, smoke, less likely to access healthcare (which is already systemically harder to access) and more likely to become homeless – you name it, we’re doing (or not doing) it.
Like with any crisis, minority and oppressed groups face the brunt of the impact. The LGBT+ foundation’s research into queers in the pandemic shows that 42% of respondents said they want to access mental health support, and this is even higher for the more marginalised members of our community with 66% Black and Brown people reporting the same. Additionally, 18% reported that the pandemic has to lead to substance or alcohol misuse, or it has triggered a relapse.
Whilst COVID-19 has meant that most people have been more isolated than usual, this has affected queer people in a unique way. Our worlds have become distinctly narrowed, cutting-off access to our communities and spaces, which are often the only places people feel comfortable to be ‘out’ in. In this way, the separation of queer people from their community can have a profoundly negative effect on people’s mental health, with serious implications for our resilience to the structural disadvantages that shape queer people’s access to the world.
of respondents said they want to access mental health support
of Black and Brown respondents said they want to access mental health support
reported that the pandemic has to lead to substance or alcohol misuse
3. Fuck capitalism!
Christmas is pretty much capitalism on acid and, while the government and corporations want you to head out and spend your hard-earned cash, we want you to come to our party free of charge, no strings attached.
In a world of Ru-Paul and corporate-sponsored Pride marches, we are a bunch of anti-capitalist queers who are absolutely SICK of our identities being marketed by pinkwashing corporations who want to be seen as the pioneers of our movement, and instead are actively causing our community harm. Queer people are in crisis, Barclays won’t be paying for your therapy, British Airways and Serco are more likely to help deport LGBTQI+ people in the asylum process rather than funding their emergency bed spaces.
In a world of Ru-Paul and corporate-sponsored Pride marches, we are a bunch of anti-capitalist queers who are absolutely SICK of our identities being marketed by ‘pinkwashing’ corporations who want to be seen as the pioneers of our movement, and instead are actively causing our community harm.
During the pandemic and throughout the Christmas period it’s the grassroots organisations that are often overlooked when we celebrate the changemakers who have been vital in sustaining the health and wellbeing of our community. It’s the Outreach Workers who have continued to deliver vital face-to-face services for people who have lost their homes during Covid19, it’s the self-employed drag queens who are keeping you entertained, and the queers on zero-hour contracts who are dropping shifts to set up, and run mutual aid groups.
This Christmas, instead of throwing your money at Jeff Bezos please support local queer businesses and donate to grassroots organisations! We run our party on donations and once we have covered the costs for our party we will be donating all of the profit directly to The Outside Project. Send them your cash if you have some spare!
4. Supporting queer artists
The queer hustle predates the pandemic – over the past decade in London 58% of LGBTQI+ venues have shut down, queer nightlife was in crisis long before this pandemic and with our remaining spaces closed for the foreseeable, we need to find new ways of supporting queer artists that worked in them.
Since the beginning of lockdown, we have been in awe of all of the innovative ways that queer performers have managed to create platforms and hustle for extra cash. From Mynxie live streaming while playing the entirety of Crash Bandicoot raising cash for United Strippers of the World, setting up Cybertease – the first (and best) online strip club supporting providing a platform for sex workers – we have seen it all over the past nine months!
Queen House Party has always platformed and prioritised working class, Black, Brown, disabled, and sex-worker performers who have lost out on their income rather than showcasing big names and flashy queens.
So during a time where traditionally mainstream entertainment options are the focus think – Boxing Day cinema releases, West End musicals, feature-length John Lewis adverts (once again, we absolutely hate to see it), we think it’s time we turned off the hetero-entertainment and supported the kings and queens of our nightlife scene. Every year we have been inspired by the likes of Lydia L’Scabies and her annual Queen Flea’s Speech, which gives the queer community an alternative run-through of the year’s events. Inspired by all this, we wanted to do something bigger (but probably not better).
Queen House Party has always platformed and prioritised working class, Black, Brown, disabled, and sex-worker performers who have lost out on their income rather than showcasing big names and flashy queens. For Christmas Day we are working with drag queens and sex workers to create an event that will pay out-of-work queer performers a decent wage – and if you’ve got the cash, you can chip in to cover the costs!
5. Queer parties have always been and always will be political. The struggle isn’t over because it’s Christmas Day
Queer parties are about claiming and fighting for space. The four walls not only offer respite but also places to deepen connections and organise as a community. Whilst we can’t be together physically, these spaces still need to exist. Christmas highlights the alienation that people in our community can feel at the expense of our current society, so it’s all the more important we can come together.
Christmas 2020 feels like a microcosm of all the inequalities and hypocrisies that have been revealed this year, during which political and corporate elites have skimmed profit and political power from social crises, and in doing so tipped the odds even more in their favour. It has never been more urgent to demand space and advocate for those who are trampled on by Tory capitalism, so while Boris tucks into a Turkey the size of his ego, we’ll be kicking off – and raving.
Come to our Party! From 8pm-late on Christmas Day. Ft. DJs Harry Gay, Wacha and passerhost Liv Wynter and performers Jada Love, Romeo De La Cruz, Victoria Rose, Shakona Fire and Baby.
Enjoyed this story? Help keep independent queer-led publishing alive by becoming a BRICKS community member for early bird access to our cover stories and exclusive content for as little as £2.50 per month.