Faculty Research: Dr. Lauren Gutterman writes on Christmas and queerness

With Christmas a mere 11 days away, we’re very pleased to bring you such a timely piece from Dr. Lauren Gutterman. Dr. Gutterman has penned a thoughtful, fascinating discussion for Notches about how historic periodicals conveyed how “Christmas felt different for queers,” drawing upon publications like ONEThe Mattachine Review, and The Ladder.

The whole piece can be found here; we’ve printed an excerpt below:

As many scholars have pointed out, with the emergence of gay liberation such expressions of sadness and loss faded from view, replaced, at least publicly, with more politically “useful” feelings of righteous anger and pride. But the queer holiday blues have persisted, and they have even been a source of theorizing about sexuality. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick wrote in Tendencies, “The depressing thing about the Christmas season—isn’t it?—is that it’s the time when all the institutions are speaking with one voice…They all—religion, state, capital, ideology, domesticity, the discourses of power and legitimacy—line up with each other so neatly once a year.”  During the holidays “Christmas” and “the family” become one and the same; they are constituted in and through each other. Writing from the margins as queer identified and as Jewish, Sedgwick held that the fascinating—and exciting—thing about sexuality is the extent to which individuals’ bodies, appearances, identities, experiences, and fantasies fail to align so easily. It is precisely this messiness, this inconsistency, Sedgwick argues, that the concept “queer” aims to bring into focus. In other words, Christmas is queerness’s opposite.