I know, I know.
I’m later to the media game than a hungover starlet is to the movie-set after an all night bender at The Chateau Marmont.
By now, you’ve ~all~ probably already seen the rare, mainstream, feature-length lesbian Christmas movie of the year: Happiest Season.
And I swear to the Indigo Girls that I truly intended to watch it on the very day it came out — but. The day the Happiest Season was released happened to be the launch day for the audio-version of my debut book: GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP.
Also, my new depression meds have been working vehemently against me, so I wasn’t exactly in the headspace for Holiday Cheer. I was in the headspace for laying horizontal on the couch staring blankly at the ceiling wondering how it got so dirty.
But the other day Meghan dragged me to bumble-fuck New Jersey to some god-awful Christmas outlet. And I’m allergic to outlets. I know that sounds classist but one can’t help their allergies, darling. Plus, an outlet allergy is not nearly as bougie as a gluten allergy.
“I’d rather take a bubble bath with Rudy Giuliani than go to this vile place!” I screamed as Meghan sped down the New Jersey Turnpike.
Meghan kept her eyes fixated on the road. She ignores me when I act like a petulant child, which is probably some kind of deep-rooted trauma response but whatever.
Anyway — the hazy cloud of my dark mood dissipated the second we got inside the store. If I broke out into my usual outlet store hives, I didn’t even notice. Because the glittery ornaments that bedazzled every aisle of the store looked like mini disco balls — and I love disco balls (all girls with a propensity toward substance abuse do).
The sparkly-star tree-toppers perfectly lined up on the neat little shelves sent a thunderstorm of serotonin that struck bolts of lightening right through my brain.
When I saw a pack of silver life-sized reindeer statues — I was rolling. I grabbed a bunch of sequined toy soldiers, a chic white Christmas Tree, a slew of those glittery disco ball ornaments, three packs of iridescent snow-globes (that look like bath bubbles!), six gold candles, and got in line. The line was fourteen miles long and full of screaming children, but I didn’t even care. I was high. Fucked up on Christmas. It was nice. I finally understood why certain people keep their decorations up long past the Holiday season has run her dutiful course. They’re depressed! And these pretty shiny ornaments are like cocktails without the hangover! They temporarily make you feel like Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurts.
So. Since I’ve been feeling nice and buzzed from the Christmas Decor I’ve been overtaken by the Christmas Spirit. It reminds me of the first time I took Lexapro. All of a sudden I’m like humming along to “Santa baby.” And I’m so not a hummer. I don’t even like Christmas music!
Which brings us to last night. Last night Meghan and I went to dinner at one of our favorite Hell’s Kitchen spots: “44 and X.” I ordered the burger and a glass of sauv blanc, and in true dyke fashion Meghan had some sort of fish and didn’t order wine just helped herself to gulps of mine (rude).
“Let’s go home and watch the lesbian Christmas movie!” I smile-screamed. (My Christmas buzz has been teetering toward the manic).
“Let’s do it,” Meghan said, visibly relieved I wasn’t suggesting we go to my other favorite Hell’s Kitchen spot, Chez Josephine which always culminates in too much gin and buttery escargots and an exorbitant bill (worth every penny, it’s the greatest place on earth).
So, like real-life, stable lesbians we actually got it together to watch a movie! I threw on my polar-bear printed pajamas (child-like pajamas on an adult woman is a surefire sign of mental illness and I’m here for it) and cozied up with the dogs in front of the TV.
I’m not lying when I say I cried during the opening credits. Yes — I did have a small nip of wine swishing through my system, but that wasn’t why I was instantly moved.
I was feeling feelings because I was cuddled up in bed with my wife watching a lesbian Christmas movie! A damn good lesbian Christmas movie at that! And when I was a braces-adorned baby dyke with an eyebrow ring, trapped in the suburbs, bored-to-tears as I watched straight Christmas movie after straight Christmas movie, I never thought I’d be here. I never thought I’d be married to the sexy swaggy power lez of my dreams. I never thought I’d live in the magical city of New York and have lots of fabulous gay friends. And I never — ever — not in a month of Sundays, expected to be watching an innocent, sweet, cute, Christmas Movie about lesbian LOVE. Starring big-name actors, airing on a big-name network.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the movie was a groundbreaking art-house film that will be studied in film schools for decades to come. But truthfully, I didn’t want it to be. I was comforted by its lack of pretention. It contained all the good Christmas Movie ingredients: flawed love, a dysfunctional-yet-redeemable family, snow, wacky siblings and a happy ending.
I’m a huge fan of lesbian films, but usually, they’re sophisticated french films, with lots of cigarette smoke and lots of sex (two things I’m a big fan of devouring with my eyes). Or they’re tragic. Biopics of the world’s first lesbian supermodel who was addicted to heroin and died of AIDs.
Or they’re indie and cool and “alt.” And while those are the types of films that I live and die for, they aren’t exactly accessible to mainstream America. A kid in the midwest probably doesn’t even know they exist, or if they do, they couldn’t exactly watch them with their parents present in the house. No one wants to watch naked Angelina Jolie dry hump a fence in front of their dad or brother.
But Happiest Season is a movie that’s being so widely publicized it’s on billboards across the country. It stars Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame. There’s no way the baby gays across the great expanse of America aren’t aware of it.
Plus, *everyone* has HULU! You don’t need to sneak away to an arthouse cinema and sit in the back row praying to a god you don’t believe in that you pretty please don’t run into someone who knows your religious family, like my friend had to do when she watched Blue Is The Warmest Colour before she was out of the closet.
And Happiest Season is conventional enough that your basic bitch sister, Becky (who is straight and thinks lesbians only live on feminist communes) will enjoy it too. It will prove to your conservative parents that some gays can indeed be normal, young couples. We aren’t all in bondage & leather, honey. (I mean I am totally bondage & leather but not all lesbians are subversive sex freaks like me).
It would be nice to one day have a lesbian movie that isn’t about coming out, but I thought it was a wise move for a mainstream movie that wants to prove itself as equitable. A lot of dykes I know who live in New York and LA seemed to be annoyed by the fact that the plot was centered around “coming out” — but I’d like to gently remind them that they live in a bubble. I’m from the fucking suburbs, man. Lots of people are still in the closet. Lots of people I know outside of liberal cities are teeming with anxiety about coming home with their homosexual partners for the first time.
It wasn’t so long ago I was there myself.
And remember darlings, not all lesbian content is designed for you, specifically. Think big picture for a second. Think of the little cuties who haven’t heard of GO Magazine or Autostraddle or have never taken a “Queer Studies” course in a liberal arts college or haven’t read The Stone Butch Blues. Think of the seventh graders in the south who know they’re gay but are afraid to come out because they fear they’ll have nothing in common with their small-town cultures anymore. BUT NOW, they suddenly have a feel-good Christmas movie they can watch at home with their families! It just might be the thing that keeps them alive. I know that sounds dramatic but it’s true. Being seen in a palatable way is so important when you’re young.
And yes sometimes I was frustrated with poor Kristen Stewart having to be shoved back in the closet, and some moments were a bit predictable: but who cares? WE HAVE A LESBIAN CHRISTMAS MOVIE that Hollywood conglomerates have pumped money into. Which makes more space for those of us who would like to make a buck or two off of our lesbian content. Who would like a nice rebuttal when our agents tell us our content is “niche” and won’t make money.
Also, it was written and directed by my crush Clea DuVall, who is gay AF and cool AF and talented AF.
Before we wrap this up I want to directly address a certain type of narcissism I’m seeing among a few lesbian content consumers. You all seem to be rendered OUTRAGED when you can’t relate to a piece of art, lately. I’ve seen dykes fume that they’re not closeted and not all dykes are closeted, and therefore they don’t identify with this Happiest Season movie and WAIL, CRY, SCREAM!
My fellow dykes. It’s impossible for a lesbian movie to be relatable to every dyke in this -ever-diverse queer world of ours. And yes, you might’ve been out and proud since the dawn of time. But you’re not the only lesbian stomping around the planet. And lots of lesbians deeply relate to being closeted. Hundreds of thousands.
So your lesbian big sister is going to give it to you real: It’s not all about you.
I was recently dragged for writing about my experience with a “toxic lesbian relationship.” “STOP PERPETUATING DAMAGING STEREOTYPES” a flock of lesbians tweeted at me all at once.
Um. Excuse me?
What I think is “damaging” is expecting lesbian creatives to suppress their truths in order to appear “perfect” to the heteronormative world. And I will never pretend I haven’t had dark lesbian relationships in order to fit an agenda I never aligned with anyway. You heard it here first. Sorry, not remotely sorry. Don’t watch lesbian movies or read lesbian personal essays or listen to lesbian music if you’re going to crumble to pieces because that particular piece of art doesn’t mirror your experience exactly. Art isn’t for the fragile. If you want to feel comfortable all the time get into baking. Not art. Art is dangerous!
Anyway. I think you MUST watch Happiest Season. Watch it for your younger-self. I truly felt my alienated young self feel a little less like an isolated freak whilst watching it. It’s cute. It’s warm. It probably won’t change your life but it could change your inner-teen’s life. And we must always work hard to heal our inner teen. For she did all the excruciating leg work that brought us to where we are now.
My debut book GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP: THE BAD GIRL’S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR SH*T TOGETHER is available NOW on Audible, google play, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and BAM! If you send me a screenshot of your order, I’ll send you swag!