Christmas Feed

Some Favorite Christmas Songs From A Gay Baby Boomer's Point of View

Merry gay christmas

 

A few days ago I came across a post on Billboard.com titled 15 LGBTQ Songs for a Holiday Kiki.  It was a fun read, and there were even a few songs I knew, but for the most part it was created with young gays in mind.  And to be honest, from my silver-haired perspective, most of the songs didn't have a very Christmas-y vibe and were often tacky or a bit sleazy.  This inspired me to draw up my own list, reflecting the sensibility of a Gay Baby Boomer.  My selections range across eras, from the mid-1940s all the way to the 21st century; some of the artists are gay, others are gay icons of my generation.  The songs are a mix of standards and musical styles, with a twist of camp thrown in.  Here they are, in no particular order ...

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARLING - The Carpenters (1970)

I was in 8th grade when this song was released, and like many gay boys of my generation I fell in love with Karen Carpenter's voice.  In the course of four months at the end of 1970 the Carpenters released Close to You, We've Only Just Begun and then this beauty.  To this day I still find myself replaying the end of the song, with its beautiful layering of voices.  Category: Icon

 

The carpenters at christmas

 

 

JOY TO THE WORLD - Joan Sutherland (1965)

Soprano Sutherland's bombastic delivery suits this grand song like a red-velvet glove.  Julie Andrews also has a beautiful, more delicate rendition of this song.  Category: Icon (of Opera Queens). 

 

Joan sutherland joy to the world

 

 

JINGLE BELLS - Jim Nabors (1970)

Nabors' hearty baritone gives this lightweight chestnut a unique (and amusing) power. Category:  Gay performer (RIP)

 

Jim nabors christmas album

 

 

STEP INTO CHRISTMAS - Elton John (1974)

This is the only rocker on my list.  Category: Gay performer

 

Elton john step into christmas

 

 

MY FAVORITE THINGS - The Supremes (1965)

A nice use of sleigh bells in the background.  Category: Icons

 

The supremes christmas album

 

 

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS - Judy Garland (1944)

This song is from the movie Meet Me In St. Louis.  Another classic Judy Christmas memory is the Christmas telecast of her eponymous variety series from 1963-64.  Category: Icon

 

Judy garland - have yourself a merry little christmas

 

 

LAST CHRISTMAS - Wham! (1986)

A beautiful, adult-oriented classic.  Sadly, 2017 was the first Christmas season without George Michael, who died last Christmas (no pun intended).  And while the song is very pretty, its accompanying video is awful (as most '80s videos are); still, it's been viewed more than 300 million times.  Category: Gay performer (RIP)

 

Lastchristmas

 

 

JOY TO THE WORLD - Whitney Houston (1996)

This version is from the movie The Preacher's Wife, which starred Houston.  Category: Icon (RIP)

 

Whitney joy to the world

 

 

SANTA BABY - Madonna (1987)

While Eartha Kitt's version from the early 1950s is certainly a hoot, Madonna's has a processed smoothness along with her Betty Boop voice.  Category: Fading Icon

 

Madonna___santa_baby_by_rymc730-das2lmd.png

 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAY - Peggy Lee (1960)

This has Miss Peggy Lee's signature cool jazz styling.  Category: Camp

 

Peggy lee christmas

 

 

CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE - Billy Porter (2001)

Porter appeared on this benefit CD twelve years before he won the Tony for Best Actor for his performance in the musical Kinky Boots.  (Unfortunately, I could find no YouTube link.)  Category: Gay performer

 

Broadway cares - home for the holidays cd

 

 

WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS - Cast from Glee (2010)

This is upbeat, fun version from the TV show, Glee, first appeared in the Broadway production of Mame, starring Angela Lansbury, in 1966.  And Lucille Ball played Mame in the 1974 movie (the 1958 movie with Rosalind Russell, titled Auntie Mame, wasn't a musical).  Category: Iconic TV series

 

Lucille ball as mame

 

 

THE CHRISTMAS SONG - Donna Summer (1994)

This is a beautiful version, especially the plaintive piano ending, which brings to mind the beginning of Summer's Last DanceCategory: Vilified Icon

 

Donna summer - the christmas song

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL - Denise Montana & the Salsoul Orchestra (1976)

This selection has a very chill vibe - very urban gay.  Category: Tom Ford

 

Salsoul christmas jollies

 

 

WINTER WONDERLAND - The Andrew Sisters w/Guy Lombardo & Orchestra (1946)

This version was featured in The Polar Express, and played in the vast emptiness of the North Pole gift operation, which gave off a reverb-effect sound quality, which is different from its original version.  Category: Camp

 

Andrew sister - winter wonderland

 

 

IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR - Diana Ross (1993)

This performance aired during the 1993 PBS holiday special, Christmas in Vienna (other years featured Natalie Cole and Kiri Te Kanawa).  Ross looks exquisite.  This is a great song made even better by her breathless delivery.  Category: Icon

 

 

Diana ross - christmas in vienna

 

 

KISSING BY THE MISTLETOE - Aretha Franklin (1962)

A fun song from the very early years before Aretha's rise to Queen of Soul-dom (she was 20).  Category: Icon

 

Mistletoe - gay kiss

 

 

THE MAN WITH THE BAG - Kay Starr (1953)

No, she's not talking about condoms (or perhaps she is and I was too dim to catch the secondary meaning).  This song has a great, upbeat Big Band-ish tempo.  Category: Camp

 

Kay starr The-Man-With-The-Bag

 

 

PAT-A-PAN - David Archuleta (2009)

The adorable Archuleta stole the hearts of girls, their moms and gay boys when he competed on American Idol in 2006 at the age of 16, ultimately finishing second.  Category: Cute as a Bug

 

David archuleta - pat a pan

 

 

And not one of these selections included the song with the lyric, "Don we now our gay apparel"!

 

Here are links to a few more Christmas-themed posts:

The Hunks of TV's Cheesy Christmas Movies

"The Land of Misfit Toys" - An Early Gay Anthem?

What Makes the Yuletide Gay

K-Mart's Charmingly Risque Christmas Ad

Bette Midler Stars in Christmas-Themed Holiday Ad

 

 


A Salute to the Hunks of TV's Cheesy Christmas-Themed Movies

Christmas wish - aaron odonnell

Whenever I take a trip back home to Pittsburgh to visit my mom, we spend a good amount of time watching TV.  During this year's Thanksgiving visit (2017) there was, as there always is, a surfeit of cheesy, formulaic Christmas-themed movies on The Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Icon, all with heterosexual romance as their main themes.  But despite their mind-dulling plots and cliched twists and turns, the hunky male leads held my attention - and not once did I implore Mom to change the channel.  While watching I amused myself by fantasizing that the big reveal at the end of each movie would involve the hunk coming out to his lady friend rather than proposing to her. 

 

Hallmark-christmas-movies-all i want or christma

 

Here are some of the best "knights in shining armor" I feasted my eyes upon. (Please note that, with one exception, bare chested photos of them are not from their Christmas movies.)

 

AARON O'DONNELL (32 y.o., 6'1"/born in Ohio)

O'Donnell, a former Ford model, has four holiday movies to his credit: With Love, Christmas (2017); My Christmas Love (2016); 12 Gifts of Christmas (2015); and A Prince for Christmas (2015).  However, he may be most famous for his role as a plumber in TV ads for Liquid Plumr

 

With-love-christmas-2017-dvd-hallmark-movies-c988

 

Aaron o'connell - liquid plumbr ad
Liquid Plumr ad

 

Model aaron odonnell
A photo from O'Donnell's modeling days, not from the movie

 

STERLING SULIEMAN (34 y.o., 5'11"/born in Hawaii)

Perhaps best known for his roles in The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, in 2015's The Christmas Wish (on Lifetime) Sulieman portrayed Wesley, director of an agency that places foster children, which is across town from his father's architectural firm, notorious for razing neighborhoods to make way for glitzy Trump-like towers. 

 

Sterling sulieman - the christmas gift

 

Sterling sulieman

 Sterling-sulieman-open shirt

 

 

RICK FOX (49 y.o., 6'7"/ born in Canada)

A former member of the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers over thirteen seasons, Fox appeared in a supporting role to Sterling Suleilman in The Christmas Wish as the publisher of an alternative newspaper.

 

Rick fox

 

 

ROB MAYES (34 y.o. /born in Ohio)

A child model, Mayes starred in Love for Christmas (2012, on Ion), where he played a naval officer returning home to California, where he bumps into his former high school crush (in real life he briefly attended the US Naval Academy).  The flame is rekindled but she takes a job in New York as a Broadway director, something she avoided telling him until the last minute (at the party following the big Christmas pageant she oversaw).  After she moves he decides to find her (at the urging of his precious 10-year-old niece) and finds her on top of the Empire State Building where he proposes. 

 

RobMayes

 

Rob mayes

 

Rob mayes

 

DAVID ALPAY (38 y.o., 5'10"/Canadian)

He's starred in three holiday movies.  In The Mistletoe Inn (2017) he plays Zeke, a romance novelist; in Sleigh Bells Ring (2016) he plays Alex, and old flame of the organizer of their town's Christmas parade; and in Ice Sculpture Christmas (2015) he plays David, who enters his friend, a chef, into an ice sculpting contest that pits her against her boss.  Her friendship with David blossoms into romance.

 

David alpay - sleigh bells ring

  David alpay ice sculpting
 

David alpay - younger days
In younger days

 

 

CARLOS PENAVEGA (29 y.o., 5'6"/born in Missouri)

PenaVega's last name was simply Pena until his marriage to Alexa Vega.  After graduating from the Boston Conservatory, he rose to fame on Nickelodeon, then in November 2015 he competed on Dancing With the Stars and in 2016 he played Kenickie in Fox's production of Grease Live!  And this holiday season he starred in An Enchanted Christmas on The Hallmark Channel where he played the role of Ricardo, a salsa instructor. 

 

Carlos-penavega-enchanted christmas

 Carlos-penavega-bio-photo

 

Carlos penavega - dancing with the stars
Dancing With the Stars

 

LEA COCO (41 y.o., 6'2"/born in Louisiana)

Not to be confused with Lea Delaria or Lee Iacocca, Coco is a journeyman actor with no real TV franchise under his belt.  In The Sweetest Christmas (2017, Hallmark Channel), he plays the role of Nick, old boyfriend of Kylie, who owns a pizzeria.  Kylie asks to use his oven when hers malfunctions the day before the American Gingerbread competition.

 

The-sweetest-christmas

 Lea coco actor

 LeaCoco_TheGlades_s3e04_TheNakedTruth_20120624_001

 

RYAN PAEVEY (34 y.o., 6'/born in southern California)

Similar to Aaron O'Donnell, Paevey jumped from modeling to acting and is best known for various roles on General Hospital (starting in January 2014).  During the 2016 Christmas season he co-starred in the Hallmark Channel's Unleashing Mr. Darcy, in which he played an arrogant judge at a dog show.  (Yes, it's considered a holiday movie.)

 

Ryan paevey - unleashing mr. darcy

 Ryan-paevey-hot-guys

 

DANIEL LISSING (37 y.o., 5'11"/Australian)

Lissing appeared with Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman in the shortlived ABC drama Last Resort in 2012-13.  In 2016's A December Bride, he had the role of Seth, who was responsible for introducing Layla's ex-fiance to his bride-to-be, who is Layla's cousin.  Layla can't find a date to the wedding and Seth offers to go with her.

 

A-December-Bride-2016-movie-poster

 

Daniel lissing australian

 

Daniel lessing in tank top

 

JESSE HUTCH (37 y.o., 6'0"/Canadian)

Hutch is a Hallmark Channel favorite; he reminds me of a TV version of Channing Tatum.  Growing up in the Canadian Rockies he has a reputation for doing his own stunts (and his bio says that he always had an attraction to action and adrenaline).  He has three Hallmark holiday movies to his credit, where had the roles of Cole in Snowmance (2017); Connor in Becoming Santa (2015); and Brady in Let It Snow (2013).  As you'll see he's the only actor on this list who bared his chest in one of his movies.

 

Jesse hutch - let it snow movie
"Let It Snow!"

 

Jesse hutch in snowmance
"Snowmance"

 

Jesse hutch becoming santa
"Becoming Santa"

 

 

CHRIS CARMACK (38 y.o., 6'1"/born in Washington, DC)

Carmack may be best known for his role as closeted country singer Will Lexington on the ABC drama Nashville.  Before that role he starred in two 2012 Christmas-themed movies, All About Christmas Eve and A Christmas Wedding Date.

 

Chris-Carmack-620x373
"A Christmas Wedding Date"

 

Chris carmack - all about christmas eve
"All About Christmas Eve"
 
Chris-carmack-shirtless-03

 

TRAVIS MILNE (32 y.o., 6'2"/Canadian)

Shortly after his six-year stint on ABC's Rookie Blue came to an end, Milne starred as a workaholic single dad who falls for his personal shopper in A Gift-Wrapped Christmas (2015)

 

Travis milne - a gift wrapped christmas

 Travis-milne-4

 

BRENNAN ELLIOTT (43 y.o./Canadian)

Yet, one more Canadian!  His most high profile performances were on Lifetime's medical drama Strong Medicine for four seasons and the USA Movie Flight 93 before starring in A Christmas Melody (featuring Mariah Carey) in 2015 and Love You Like Christmas in 2016.

 

Brennan elliott - a christmas melody

 

Brennan elliott all of my heart

 

Brennan elliott driving
 

 

I had the makings of my very own Hallmark movie during my trip to Pittsburgh.  I took Amtrak there and my seatmate, who boarded in Philly was a young, friendly, talkative attorney who was also visiting his mom in Pittsburgh.  We chatted non-stop for three hours; from our conversation I surmised that he was single but I couldn't tell if we played on the same team.  However, once off the train we quickly parted, going our separate ways, he taking Uber, me Lyft.  If this story followed the arc of the holiday movies we would have a chance encounter a number of weeks, months or years later.  Alas, it was not to be.

 

Amtraktrain

 

Finally, fast forward a few years to Lifetime and its holiday movie, Twinkle all the Way, in which one of the two sons of Leslie Ann Warren's characters not only was gay, but married as well.  Yes!  And the final kiss of the movie is between husband and husband.  And during the summer of 2020 it was announced that Hallmark Channel was planning to air at least one Christmas move with a gay romance at its center.

 

Gay kiss_ twinkle all the way_lifetime movie
Husbands kiss in "Twinkle All the Way"

 

 


   


Song Lyrics That Used the Word 'Gay' Before Its Meaning Changed

GayIf a song has the word 'gay' in its lyrics chances are it came from an earlier era, most likely before Stonewall and the beginning of the gay liberation movement (but there are exceptions).  Such songs use the word to describe a mood of happiness or lightheartedness.  When people hear these lyrics today some smile, others giggle, but traditionalists are often annoyed that the word has lost its innocent meaning.  (Occasionally a misguided soul tries to change 'gay' to 'happy' or 'fun' but then relents when his/her attempt is discovered and ridiculed in the media.)  For this post I've found seventeen songs that use the word the old-school way, and here they are ...

 

TWISTIN' THE NIGHT AWAY

This was a top-10 tune for R&B singer Sam Cooke in 1962.

 

Let me tell you about a place

Somewhere up-a New York way

Where the people are so gay

Twistin' the night away

 

Samcooke_twistin

 

THE GREAT PRETENDER

This was one of the biggest hits of the 1950s, by the Platters.

 

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender

Just laughing and gay like a clown

 

Platters_great.pretender

 

WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE

Like The Great Pretender this was another big hit from 1956.  Originally performed by Frankie Lymon & the Teenager, it was also a top 10 hit for Diana Ross 25 years later.

 

Why do birds sing so gay?

And lovers await the break of day?

Why do they fall in love?

 

Frankielymon.whydofools

 

IT MIGHT AS WELL AS BE SPRING

From the 1945 movie State Fair, it won Rogers & Hammerstein an Oscar for Best Original Song.

 

But I feel so gay

In a melancholy way

That it might as well be spring

 

Might.as.well.be.spring

 

LUSH LIFE

A jazz classic written in the 1930s by gay composer and lyricist Billy Strayhorn (who also wrote Take the 'A' Train).

 

I use to visit all the very gay places

Those come what may places

Where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life

To get the feel of life

From jazz and cocktails

 

Lushlife.billystrayhorn

 

ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY)

This maudlin pop song by Gilbert O'Sullivan topped the charts in the summer of 1972. 

 

To think that only yesterday

I was cheerful, bright and gay

 

Alone.again.naturally

 

STANDING IN THE DOORWAY

Written by Bob Dylan in 1997, long after the word 'gay' had its transformation.

 

I'm strummin' on my gay guitar

Smoking a cheap cigar

 

Bobdylan

 

THE MUMMERS' SONG

A somewhat generic New-Age song in the style of Enya or Sarah Mclachlan that was a hit for Loreena McKennitt.

 

We've been rambling all the night

And some of the day

Now returning back again

We bring a garland gay

 

Mummers.dance

 

KOOKABURRA

This is an Australian nursery rhyme.  The kookaburra is a large bird found in Australia and New Guinea that has a loud call that resembles human laughter.

 

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,

Merry, merry king of the bush is he

Laugh kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra

How gay your life must be!

 

Kookaburra
 

PETER COTTONTAIL

Here's another children's song, from 1949.  The composers, Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, would write Frosty the Snowman the following year (but with no use of the word "gay").  Peter Cottontail was released as a single by Gene Autry and it went to #5 on Billboard's Hot 100!  

 

Bringin' every girl & boy

A basketful of Easter joy

Things to make your Easter

Bright & gay

Peter.cottontail.gene.autry

 

I FEEL PRETTY

From West Side Story, this song has a gay pedigree as its lyricist was Stephen Sondheim.

 

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

I feel pretty and witty and gay

And I pity

Any girl who isn't me today

 

Ifeelpretty

 

GLITTER AND BE GAY

This comes From Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide, composed in the 1950s.

 

Glitter and be gay

That's the part I play 

Here I am in Paris, France

Forced to bend my soul

 

And later in the song ...

 

Enough! Enough!

I'll take their diamond necklace

And show my noble stuff

And being gay and reckless

 

Glitter.and.be.gay
 

 

THEME FROM THE TV SHOW 'MOONLIGHTING'

Al Jarreau provided vocals for this jazz-infused theme song for ABC's detective comedy from the late 1980s.  It starred Cybil Shepherd and, in his breakout role, Bruce Willis.

 

Some walk by night, some fly by day

Nothing could change you, set and sure of the way

Charming and bright, laughing and gay

I'm just a stranger, love the blues and the Braves

 

Moonlighting.abc

 

HAPPY WORKING SONG

Sung by Amy Adams' character in the 2007 Disney movie Enchanted, this is the most recent example of a song tapping the word 'gay' for its earlier meaning.

 

And you’ll trill a cheery tune in the tub

As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain

Lug a hairball from the shower drain

To the gay refrain

Of a happy working song

 

Amyadams.happyworkingsong

 

THEME SONG FROM 'THE FLINTSTONES'

This was the first cartoon to air in primetime.

 

When you're with the Flintstones

Have a yabba dabba-do time

A dabba-do time

We'll have a gay old time!

 

Flintstones

 

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Although the word 'gay' didn't mean 'LGBT gay', this holiday chestnut was first sung by gay icon Judy Garland in the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis.

 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let the yuletide be gay

From now on our troubles will be miles away

 

Judygarland.merrylittlexmas

 

DECK THE HALLS

This is likely the best-known song on this list, largely because it's been around since the late 19th century.

 

Don we now our gay apparel

Fa la la la la la, la la la!

Troll the ancient Yuletide carol

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

 

Gayapparel

 

Finally, one of the readers of this post was inspired to post a video on YouTube with a medley of 34 songs, including most of those listed above.

 

 

 

 

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Saluting The Kennedy Center Honors' Roster of Gay Inductees

Kennedy center honorsLike the Academy Awards and Tony Awards, a considerable number of gay men have an affinity for the Kennedy Center Honors because of its celebration of personalities in the performing arts.  Since the first awards were handed out in 1978 a steady stream of accomplished gay men have been chosen as honorees.  However, not until 2015 year was a self-proclaimed lesbian awarded the honor - Lily Tomlin.  (But rumored lesbians such as Mary Martin, Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn and Dolly Parton have been honored).  The ceremony takes place in early December, with the President and First Lady in attendance (the exception has been Trump and Melania); the telecast of the event usually airs a few days after Christmas on CBS.  Interestingly, the colors of the award's sash are those of the rainbow flag.  In 2002 DC's Gay Men's Chorus performed as part of the tribute to Elizabeth Taylor.

 

Lily.tomlin
2014 honoree, Lily Tomlin

   

23 of the 213 recipients (through 2019) have been gay.  In four of the years there were two gay inductees: 1979, 1986, 1993 and 2010.  (In 1989 Claudette Colbert and Mary Martin were honorees).  The longest stretch in which no gay honorees were named was the five years between 2005-2009 (this drought might be matched next year depending on 2019's announcement).  Conversely, between 1979 and 1988 every year but one (1989) had a gay recipient.   

 

GAY HONOREES   

To be considered, a candidate must be living at the time of their induction.  Of the 23 gay honorees (listed below), eight are still alive.  The first gay honorees were Aaron Copland and Tennessee Williams in 1979.  One glaring oversight was playwright and director Arthur Laurents (who died in 2011 at the age of 93).  Perhaps it was because of his prickly personality?

 

Bill.t.jones.kennedy.center.honors
Bill T. Jones

 

Aaron Copland (1979) - composer (died in 1990, age 90)

Tennessee Williams (1979) - novelist (died in 1983, age 73)

Leonard Bernstein (1980) - composer/conductor (died in 1990, age 72)

Jerome Robbins (1981) - choreographer (died in 1998, age 79)

Virgil Thomson (1982) - composer (died in 1989, age 92)

Gian Carlo Menotti (1984) - conductor/composer (died in 2007, age 95)

Frederick Loewe (1985) – lyricist (died in 1988, age 86)

Merce Cunningham (1986) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2009, age 90)

Antony Tudor (1986) - ballet choreographer (died in 1987, age 79)

Alwin Nikolais (1987) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1993, age 82)

Alvin Ailey (1988) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1989, age 58)

Stephen Sondheim (1993) - composer/lyricist (born in 1930)

Arthur Mitchell (1993) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2018, age 84)

Edward Albee (1996) - playwright (died in 2016, age 88)

Fred Ebb & John Kander (1998) - lyricists (Ebb died in 2004, age 76; Kander is still alive, born in 1927)

Van Cliburn (2001) - pianist (died in 2013, age 78)

James Levine (2002) - conductor (born in 1943)

Elton John (2004) - singer/composer/pianist (born in 1947)

Bill T Jones (2010) - dancer/choreographer (born in 1952)

Jerry Herman (2010) - lyricist and composer (died in 2019, age 88)

Lily Tomlin (2014) - actress/comedian (born in 1939)

Michael Tilson Thomas (2019) - conductor, pianist and composer (born in 1944)

 

Michael tilson thomas

 

Other lesbians worthy of consideration for future induction may include Jodie Foster, Cherry Jones, Melissa Etheridge and Cynthia Nixon. And Johnny Mathis, Terrence McNally, Tommy Tune and Richard Chamberlain are worthy candidates on the gay male side.  

 

GAY ICONS/DIVAS

Although not gay themselves, sixteen recipients, all women, have the distinction of being gay icons.  The most recent was Cher, in 2018.  Another icon, Maria Callas, likely would have been honored but she died the year before the first Kennedy Center Honors (at the very young age of 53).

 

Barbra.streisand.kennedycenterhonors

Ella Fitzgerald (1979)

Martha Graham (1979)

Leontyne Price (1980)

Lucille Ball (1986)

Bette Davis (1987)

Katharine Hepburn (1990)

Aretha Franklin (1994)

Judith Jamison (1999)

Angela Lansbury (2000)

Chita Rivera (2002)

Elizabeth Taylor (2002)

Dolly Parton (2006)

Diana Ross (2007)

Barbra Streisand (2008)

Barbara Cook (2011)

Cher (2018)

 

Kennedycenterhonors.cbs


Chanticleer - Voices of Angels (In Tuxedos)

Chanticleer.christmas2014Chanticleer is an all-male vocal ensemble based in San Francisco.  Best known for its interpretations of Renaissance music, the group also performs a repertoire that includes jazz, gospel and standards.  The group came to my attention in 1992 when I saw a video for their version of Responsorio Desundo de SS Jose from the CD Mexican Baroque.  In addition to this CD I later bought a few others.  Then ten years ago I bought a DVD of their Christmastime performance at the Metropolitan Museum.  It was magnificent.  And this year (2014) I attended their Christmas concert at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan (where Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis' 1994 funeral was held).

 

Chanticleer_mexicanbaroque

 

Christmas.with.chanticleer 

 

The ensemble is comprised of a dozen male singers who I'd say are between the ages of 30 and 50.  Although they're not officially considered a gay group they certainly send out a gay vibe.  (In this year's concert program  one singer made it known that he's straight.)  The group was formed in 1978, which happens to be the same year the first gay choral group, San Francisco's Gay Men's Chorus, was formed.


"The Land of Misfit Toys" - An Early Gay Anthem?

Misfit.toysThe beloved Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer made its debut in 1964 when I was in the Second Grade.  For me the highlight was the song, The Land of Misfit Toys.  Without knowing why, I identified with this plaintive, sweet number about outcasts who were banished (through no fault of their own).  This included Herbie, the elf who wanted to be a dentist.  As we all know, Rudolph becomes the Moses of the misfits, persuading Santa to include them in his deliveries around the word alongside the "normal" toys.

 

Rudolph.reindeer

 

Herbie.the.elf.and.rudolphOf course the song's progressive message is for anyone who feels out of place and yearns to be accepted by society (however, not all of us feel that way and actively seek out the Land of Misfit Toys, such as Fire Island, Provincetown or San Francisco).  Years later the Disney TV movie High School Musical had a variation of this song, Stick with the Status Quo.  And Misfit Toys was later performed on a Christmas episode of Glee, known for tackling gay issues.  


What Makes the Yuletide Gay?

20131216_125933 What's not to love about Christmas, especially if you're a gay man?  Tinsel, ribbons and Garland - specifically, Judy's 1963 Christmas show!  And when we watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer who didn't feel a connection with Herbie the Elf and the toys found on the Island of Misfit Toys?  Then there's the beloved Christmas carol, Deck the Halls.  Not only does it have the fabulous line, "Don we now our gay apparel", but a chorus of "fa la la la la, la la la la" to boot!  Besides that song, we also embrace Christmas music in general, especially if it's sung by the Carpenters or Julie Andrews.  And who can forget the Salsoul Orchestra's classic Christmas Jollies album?

 

Wrapping_xmas_presentHowever, I must admit there is one aspect of Christmas I don't embrace, and that is wrapping presents.  Although I love beautiful wrapping paper, I've never developed a flair for transforming a package into a work of art - and I have no patience whatsoever when it comes to ribbons and bows.  (I'm more of a brown paper packages tied up with string kind of guy.)  I guess when they were handing out the Martha Stewart gene I must have been in the line for liking baseball.  But let's not dwell on "bah humbug".  Rather, with dreams of sugar plums dancing in my head, here's a ZeitGAYst toast to the Christmas season ....

 

 

  • From the movie White Christmas (not to be confused with Holiday Inn), the wonderful number "Sisters" was performed by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen and then, hilariously, by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye ...

 

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  • A "Glee"-ful Christmas.  And who can forget Kurt and Blake's spicy duet of Baby It's Cold Outside from the show's 2010 Christmas episode?

 

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  • Here's some gay apparel ...

 

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  • Tzabaco was one of a number of catalogs in the early to mid 1990s that was targeted to gay and lesbian shoppers (Shocking Gray was another).  Alas, it didn't survive more than a few years. 

 

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  • Hats and underwear count as apparel ... 

 

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  • With names like Dancer & Prancer, can two of Santa's reindeer be anything but gay?

 

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  • Although not a movie, per se, about Christmas, a key scene early in John Waters' Female Trouble takes place on Christmas morning when rebellious high school student Dawn Davenport (played by Divine) goes ballistic on her parents when she doesn't get the "Cha-Cha heels" she so covets.

 

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  • And finally, holiday cards from dear, dear friends ... 

 

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May all of your Christmases be pink ...

 

Here are a few other posts I've written with a Christmas theme:

Jingle Bells or Jingle Balls?

Bette Midler Stars in Holiday Commercial for Honda

Martha Stewart's First Christmas Special

Christmas Ads That Spread Holiday Cheer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


"Jingle Bells" or "Jingle Balls"? Kmart Decks the Halls with Charmingly Risque TV Ad

Kmart_jingle_bellsNow this is some "ballsy" advertising!  Kmart recently unveiled a holiday ad for the 2013 season for its Joe Boxer line of men's boxer shorts (titled "Show Your Joe").  In it six studly bell-ringers go from ringing traditional bells to shaking their balls while showing off their boxers in a quasi Chippendale's production.  Although risque, it's also charming, and Kmart maintained some dignity as the bell ringers kept their tuxedo jackets on throughout.  Gay apparel indeed - and a delightful ad you don't want to fast-forward through!  Double cllick here to view it.

 

Here are a few other holiday-themed posts you may enjoy:

A Salute to Ads that Spread Holiday Cheer 

Bette Midler Spreads Holiday Cheer in Honda Ad

Martha Stewart's First Christmas Special Airs 

 

 


Martha Stewart's First Christmas Special Airs (December 12, 1995)

Martha_stewart_christmasMadonna wasn't the only diva with "blonde ambition" during the 1990s.  There was also Martha Stewart, goddess of the domestic arts, who rose to icon status during the decade.  Five years after her wildly popular magazine Martha Stewart Living began publishing, Martha starred in her first holiday special, "Home for the Holidays", which aired on CBS on December 12, 1995. 

 

Martha_juliaOne of Martha's guests was Julia Child, and it was the first time the two worked together (Julia was 83 at the time).  Then Miss Piggy helped Martha construct a gingerbread house.  They used white Necco wafers for the roof's shingles and as I watched I shuddered thinking how an assistant probably was ordered to go through countless packages of wafers in order get the white ones ready.

 

 

 

Topless_martha_stewart_snlA year later Saturday Night Live aired a parody of Martha's holiday special.  The skit was called Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays Topless Christmas Special and it became a classic.  Cast member Ana Gasteyer (right) portrayed Martha. 

 

 

Three other Christmas-themed posts you may enjoy: 

"Jingle Bells" or "Jingle Balls"?  Kmart Decks the Halls with Risque TV Ad  

Bette Midler Stars in Honda Holiday Commercial 

Favorite Toys of Christmases Past 

Christmas Ads That Bring Holiday Cheer


Bette Midler Stars in Christmas-Themed TV Ad for Honda's Acura

Bette_midler_acura_christmasAlthough no auto manufacturer has yet to feature a same-sex couple gifting each other with a be-ribboned car in the driveway, for now we'll have to settle for Honda's Acura choosing gay icon Bette Midler to star in one of its Christmas commercials during the 2011 holiday season.  She's at her Divine Miss M best, eagerly grabbing center stage among a group of suburban Christmas carolers.  She's like a sparkly Christmas ornament, all glittery and a wonder to behold.  Double click here for 30 seconds of holiday cheer.    

 

If you'd like more of Bette in a holiday mood check her 2006 CD Cool Yule.

 

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