'Tis that holiday when Annual Gift Man rears his horrible head and only John Waters and his powerful gay gun can save us. If you find yourself in a same-sex relationship this year — after cleaning up the embers of that disastrous hetero relationship you tried just to make your family happy last year, or any number of other sticky situations — then have we got ways to make your holidays gay in 2015! And there are ideas for lonely guys and gals here, too, as well as plenty of options for LGBTQ supporters, too.
11) Ogle the OtterJ 2016 Calendar
In just a few short years ago, Denver photographer Josh Olsen’s so-called “dirty” pictures of otters in their natural habitat — that would be hot, hairy men and not fuzzy woodland creatures, though the differences can be slight — have turned it into a bustling, scorching-hot cottage industry. And just in time to stuff your partner’s stocking, the 2016 OtterJ calendar is ready to inspire you to get (it) up all through the new year. Twelve months of hot, hirsute men was simply not enough, so this year’s calendar layout is weekly, and features 52 of the sexiest snaps of Denver’s men, mixed with men that Olsen catches in his travels around this great, hunky country of ours. Pick up your calendar for $20 at otterj.com and be sure to check out the other merchandise available on the site, too.
10) Visit the new Wizard’s Chest location
Out artist Lonnie Hanzon spent his summer building a giant wedding cake sculpture for this year’s PrideFest — which happened to coincide with marriage equality becoming the law of the land — but he’s been spending this winter transforming the new home of the Wizard’s Chest, now open at 451 Broadway. It has all the room to stock the store's incredible costumes, as well as all the gifts and gadgets that make spending an afternoon at this Denver mainstay so much fun. But Hanzon’s new touches, including a more vivid castle facade our front, make roaming through the store’s new kingdom feel like an exciting quest to find the perfect gift for anyone in your life. Get caught in the Wizard's spell at the new store and at wizardschest.com.
9) Explore ED by Ellen DeGeneres
The famed comedian, actress, talk-show queen and out lesbian icon has certainly broken down a lot of barriers for the LGBTQ community — and the whole world, in fact — by teaching love and compassion every day. So what else can our sapphic leader do to better the world? How about launching ED, a lifestyle line that features some of the best clothes for women, whether they feel more Ellen or more Portia (de Rossi, DeGeneres’s femme wife), as well as some wares for the boys and a whole line of housewares, too. The clothes don’t just look good, but offer up subtle messages of hope, love and faith — and, gay or straight, we all could use more of them every day. Thanks, Ellen. Get your dancing shoes on and shop at edbyellen.com.
8) Celebrate Carol three ways
Lesbians, rejoice! Your Brokeback Mountain is finally here, in the form of Todd Haynes's perfectly filmed, thoughtful story of lady love in the '50s acted out passionately and wonderfully by Cate Blanchett and Mara Rooney. Carol is yours to open, like a perfectly wrapped present, in Denver on Christmas Day. There are three ways to enjoy it with the woman in your life. First, buy two tickets to see the film (theaters haven’t been announced just yet, but keep checking fandango.com), then pick up a copy of the lovely 1952 novel by Patricia Highsmith that Carol is based on (snag yours at tatteredcover.com, which still offers free giftwrapping) and hide the tickets in there. Finally, celebrate the history of lesbian writing by purchasing a lovely canvas giclee of the original novel’s cover, and pick up a few other classic lesbian covers, perfect for framing and hanging in your favorite reading nook, at this cool Etsy shop.
7) Get a furious Furiosa Tee
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have spent 2015 as the feminist icon of our dreams, but the figure that sent many a woman swooning this year was the tough-as-nails Furiosa (played by the always stunning Charlize Theron) in the over-the-top melee that was Mad Max: Fury Road. Driving innocent women away from a post-apocalyptic hellscape in her big rig while sharpshooting with only one working arm, she existed not as a sex object but as a full-fledged character driving the story to glory on eighteen wheels. Why not celebrate her this holiday season with an awesome T-shirt, the best way to honor any of our pop-culture queens? Pick up this furious gem in a variety of colors and effects for $20 at teepublic.com.
6) Gay Men Draw Vaginas
We all came out of one, but whether you avoided them altogether or awkwardly spent time in high school rotary-dialing that one sweet, forgiving girl while you dreamt of the quarterback, chances are that as a gay man you know next to nothing about vaginas. Realizing this, pals Shannon O'Malley and Keith Wilson asked dozens of gay men to draw vajayjays to the best of their imagination and, hoo boy, are there some winners collected in the coffee-table tome Gay Men Draw Vaginas. The book is 284 full-color pages of vag from the fabulous, foggy memory of men who have some wild imaginations. Gay men or lesbian ladies, this is appropriate gifting for anyone in your life with a sweet sense of humor and an artistic streak. The hardcover gem is $55 and up (signed and personalized editions are available for an extra fee) and available at gaymendrawvaginas.com.
5) Christmas Queens
The reality television hit RuPaul’s Drag Race has spent seven seasons snatching and tucking dozens of the world’s best drag performers into superstars aiming to shine as bright as their Mama Ru. Part of that process has been training these working girls to not only lip sync, but even belt out a tune or two. Just in time for Christmas, some of your favorite Dragracers have put out an album called Christmas Queens that features the gals singing their bells off with new versions of old holiday ditties. But the album isn’t all of it: Some of these drag stars are making their way to the Paramount Theatre for an Xmas Revue called Christmas Queens, where they’ll lay on the Christmas cheer as thick as their mascara. The icy line-up features Willam Belli, Alaska Thunderfuck, Sharon Needles, Ginger Minj, Katya and Jinkx Monsoon, all performing their songs live and inspiring visions of sugarplums dancing in your heads. Pick up a pair of tickets, which range from $20 to $75, for you and yours to attend the show on Monday, December 28 at the Paramount Theatre at altitudetickets.com.
4) Kai Lee’s Holiday Kiki
If a top-notch free drag show is more in your budget and you'd like to support local queens with just a sprinkle of RuPaul’s Drag Race, then the reigning Sunday night show at Charlie’s should be right up your chimney this holiday season. The December 20 edition features the excellent cast — Diva Dozen stars Felony Misdemeanor and Nina Montaldo among them — that makes it one of the best ones in town, under the colorful direction of host Kai Lee Mykels. The lineup will also be sprinkled with the tinsel of a special appearance by Drag Race glamazon Raja Gemini, who’s just tall enough to hang the star on top of the Christmas tree while performing up a storm on Charlie’s runway. This event also marks Felony Misdemeanor’s toy drive, so bring a new, unwrapped toy for the kiddos and do good while having a good time, too. As Miss Mykels would say, “It is the Christian thing to do.” Admission for Kai Lee’s Holiday Kiki is free at Charlie’s; find out more about the show at charliesdenver.com.
3) Transform into a What Not
Gays like to see ourselves in felt, whether represented by the queer crew of Broadway’s Avenue Q or the questionable relationship of Bert & Ernie on Sesame Street. Since statistically there just have to be some gay puppets, why not confirm it and have you and yours immortalized as a What Not? FAO Schwarz and the Muppet Show have joined forces to help you create puppet versions of you, your boyfriend or your girlfriend in the image of the dozens of extras seen in the background of any Muppet adventure. Once you have yours, you can take them on whatever gay adventures you like — be it the gay bar, bathhouse, poetry slam, drag show, or county clerk as you get a marriage license — or just play house with your pair. Cheesman Park would make a wonderful locale for a new educational show. Start building yours for $129.99 at fao.com/whatnots.
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2) Gay Semiotics
Deep within the annals (not anals, for those of you reading too fast) of gay culture, there's a record of a bygone time when apps like Grindr or Scruff were unfathomable and men had to devise a secret code by which they could indicate their sexual proclivities; different color hankies in different pockets could alert a suitor that you were a leather queen bottom with a minor in watersports, for example. This anthropology was captured in 1977 by Hal Fischer, whose photos and accompanying essay, Gay Semiotics: a photographic study of visual coding among homosexual men, were designed to capture the image of a sexual, active gay man — and show that it was no threat to the fabric of America or masculinity as a whole. Now Fischer has taken his original project and put it in book form, where it can be studied and enjoyed by the modern gay man to see that indeed, we’ve come a long way, baby. Pick up a copy of Gay Semiotics for $25 at cherryandmartin.com.
1) Push these buttons
Gay semiotics aside, we now thankfully live in a time where we, as LGBTQ Americans, can live out in the open with who we are and what we want from our hum-drum, everyday queer lives — and there’s no better way to announce to the world that you are here and everyone should get used to it than with a nicely crafted button or pin that features such simple distinctions as “Queer Femme,” “Bottom” (with an ability to turn it to “Top,” depending on your mood that day), “Gay Wad,” “Sissy” or even “Pizza Expert,” if that’s how you identify. Why not choose a bunch for the person in your life that apply to every possible emotional occasion and outfit? Buttons start at $4 and go up a bit for some fancy enamel options. Get yours at the Word For Word Factory at etsy.com.