A Holiday Handbook
This is the 2019 year end issue of Letters. Before we all “speak” again, we will hopefully have shared a Thanksgiving meal, a Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa celebration, and rung in the New Year with a resolve to live in wellness as best we can.
So that said, no pressure on this last column.
Let’s begin with the last, first: 2020. The New Year.
First thought, I like it. The numbers have a lovely symmetry. Second thought, the looming election. The year 2020 will be about who will lead our country. Not just the presidency, but the House, the Senate, and many counties, cities, and other municipalities.
Please do not sit at home being strident from your couch. Get involved.
As former President Barack Obama just remarked, criticizing people on Twitter for doing something wrong, or for a poor choice of words, “That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change.”
This year, Forbes magazine shared the Spartacus International Gay Guide’s Travel Index 2019, listing the friendliest countries for LGBTQ travelers. The top three countries are Canada, Portugal, and Sweden, which finished in a tie for the top ranking, and 13 countries—mostly in Europe—tied for fourth.
The index ranked 197 countries based on 14 criteria, including antidiscrimination laws, marriage and civil partnership laws, adoption laws, transgender rights, and persecution.
The United States did not rank in the top 45 countries. It ranked number 47, a ranking shared with nine other countries: Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Macao, Seychelles, and Thailand. In two years, the US dropped over a dozen places.
But we can change this. The upcoming year—2020—is our opportunity. If we stand up for ourselves, and seize the vote, we can change the world!
Make your resolution this year about getting active, and keeping our queer selves alive and equal. Call, knock, stuff, donate, and take back more than the night; take back the promise of our progress.
Stepping back for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa.
This one’s easy. It’s Romantic Comedy Season, and for all you Hallmark-Netflix Christmas “Rom Com” junkies, we actually have one of our own populating this sphere. From the production teams Tello Films and DASH Productions, we can watch Season of Love. (tellofilms.com). And we should…in record numbers, people.
If you think about this, rom coms are a genre completely dedicated to romance, and traditionally, the Christmas ones are hilariously, let’s say, chaste. Aficionados, you know just what I’m saying.
We get no sex, not even talk of sex, and barely use of “adult language.” The two leads never kiss until right before the credits roll, unless it’s an “oh my” mistaken identity plot twist.
Ergo, there is no reason why making an LGBTQ Christmas rom com should be a scary endeavor for any and all of those big streamers. Eyeballs translate to money, and money talks.
So let’s take our popcorn, cocoa, marshmallows, chocolate, and wine, and make Season of Love the most watched rom com of all time. Then we should continue curling up on couches, treating ourselves to an array of rom com magic including Love, Simon; Alex Strangelove; and I Can’t Think Straight.
And maybe if Netflix gets wind of this Season of Love watchathon, they will pony up and give our filmmakers opportunities to create next year’s out-and-proud rom coms, for our diverse LGBTQ rom com junkies and friends.
Thanksgiving. We time-travel backwards, for attitude is gratitude.
Before we can be effective activists we need to remember who we are, and why we must find ways to nourish and celebrate our identity.
The big meal is where we can all start.
According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law, it is estimated that up to 1.6 million young people experience homelessness in the United States every year. Forty percent of them identify as LGBTQ.
As the study also notes that LGBTQ youth represent only about seven percent of the population, that 40 percent figure is staggering and heartbreaking: If a group composes only a small minority of the overall population—but a large proportion of the homeless population—clearly, something’s gravely amiss.
So as you shop, chop, and put food on your table, think about that homeless LGBTQ child. Have gratitude for the meal on your table, the friends and family you have, or have found. And maybe, as you shop, find a food drive and toss in an extra can or two. Or even find a place to volunteer an hour to serve someone else a meal.
Our children deserve better odds.
Here for you, readers, is my 2020 fitness plan: a meal, a movie, and an activism workout. It does come with a warning label: activism has been shown to create an endorphin rush. In some not-so-rare cases, it might be addictive.
Thank you for 2019. See you in 2020!▼
Stefani Deoul is a television producer and author of the award-winning YA mystery series Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventures, with On a LARP and Zero Sum Game.