Winter Holidays Resource Kit | January 2009
As the temperature drops and the year winds down, people worldwide celebrate with a variety of holidays. Seasonal celebrations such as Eid al-Adha (Dec. 8), Hanukkah (Dec. 22-29), Christmas (Dec. 25), Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1), Muharram (Dec. 29-Jan. 26), New Year's (Jan. 31), the Lunar New Year (Jan. 26) are on the horizon and will soon set the stage for countless news and feature stories in mainstream and ethnic print and electronic media.
This holiday season, GLAAD encourages journalists and producers to share the stories and experiences of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in their coverage of the many diverse events and celebrations during the winter months. There are many timely stories coming from within the LGBT community to spotlight during this year, including couples in California and Connecticut who will celebrate their first winter holiday season together as married couples.
LGBT community centers and groups across the country arrange holiday events during the winter months, including many gay and lesbian music and performance groups. For over two decades, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band produces the annual Dance-Along Nutcracker, an all-ages performance where audience members can dress up and participate in the dancing. The event has garnered nationwide coverage, including Good Morning America, The Today Show and the Wall Street Journal. Also, many LGBT and LGBT-affirming churches, mosques, temples or synagogues organize holiday events and services.
Because the holidays are often one of the few occasions that families are able to come together, some LGBT people come out to families over the holidays, particularly when introducing a partner or significant other to family for the first time. While coming out over a holiday has become a humorous Hollywood plot device, a personal story about coming out provides an opportunity for journalists to present a personal angle to discussion of LGBT issues.
At a time of year where people gather together with loved ones, some LGBT people who are isolated from their families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity will instead celebrate the season with their “chosen family.” This could include close friends, extended family and other community members. By writing about these gatherings, journalists help increase awareness of the very serious issue of LGBT people estranged from their immediate family, while also allowing inclusive coverage of all families during the holidays.
Besides the joys, stresses and struggles that LGBT and straight Americans share during this season – “popping the question” on a holiday, introducing a new boyfriend or girlfriend at a company party, dealing with holiday travel – LGBT people also have unique stories to tell during this time of year. Here are several story ideas for LGBT-inclusive coverage during the winter holidays:
- Cover holiday events held at your local LGBT community center or by local LGBT community groups. For example, many gay and lesbian music and performance groups stage holiday concerts in major cities across the country.
- Write about holiday celebrations that are happening at a local LGBT or LGBT-affirming church, mosque, temple or synagogue.
- Consider covering the story of a family in which someone has come out during the holidays.
- Speak to LGBT people and families about their experience taking a partner or spouse home for the first time to meet their extended family.
- Interview a transgender person about their experience coming home for the holidays after starting their transition.
- Talk with LGBT people about alternative holiday celebrations that may include more than just immediate family, such as close friends, extended family and other community members who make up the person’s “chosen family.”
- Highlight the struggles of a bi-national same-sex couple that is separated during the holidays due to unfair and non-inclusive U.S. immigration laws.
- Profile LGBT community members and their reflections on the upcoming year as they approach their celebrations of Lunar New Year, New Year’s Eve, Muharram or other new year’s events.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)