Why I like Christmastime (other than thinking elves are hot)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was on TV last night. It’s a tradition even older than I am to watch this mid-1960s bit of Americana, and it reminded me how much of Christmas is really gay — and also how some of the older shows are quite closed-minded and politically incorrect now. Consider this:

• The story of Rudolph is the story of someone who, because of his flamboyance (literally — he’s a flamer) is immediately ostracized by his family and community, and bullied by not only his peers but adults. Worse among these bigots: Santa Claus, who is portrayed as judgmental and in today’s world would probably have advocated “don’t ask, don’t tell” and would condemn its repeal.

• The Isle of Misfit Toys is a collection of gay-ish creatures, from Charlie in the box, who lisps more than Chris Krok on a rant, to the polka-dotted elephant to Dollie, who seems to have nothing on the surface wrong with her (implying she may be damaged in a deeper way, i.e., she’s lesbian. Read the signs, people!).

• Hermie and Yukon Cornelius are clearly gay lovers. The Abominable Snow Monster strikes me as a sloppy bottom, especially once his teeth are pulled (that’s when he takes up a career as a decorator).

• Santa’s transformation (and that of the others) only occurs once Rudolph proves he has some value — a skill no one else has. This strikes me as having cognates in the stop-loss policy that kept useful gays in the military only until suitable straight replacements could be found.

And this isn’t the only one — don’t even get me started about Snow Miser, Heat Miser and Prof. Hinkle.

Ultimately, I think shows like Rudolph are empoweringly pro-gay, despite employing stereotypes to achieve a message of inclusion. But I worry that the messages may be lost to some. Just remember: You heard it here first.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay OKC pioneer Arnold Smith remembered

Arnold “Arna Lee” Smith, who owned a series of gay bars in Oklahoma City dating back to the 1960s, died Oct. 31 at 83, according to the Metro Star:

During the early 1960s America and Oklahoma were quite different, where being gay was officially still a mental illness, sodomy laws were still in the books, and gay rights (let alone marriage) weren’t even discussed. Police raids on gay bars were common, albeit on dubious pretexts and very selective law enforcement, much facilitated when most people victimized by these tactics were either afraid and/or ashamed to fight back. But even in this dark scenario Arnold’s first club, Lee’s Lounge which opened in the mid 1960s in the Paseo District, was a bright spot for the GLBT community that refused to back down. Although the club endured relentless police harassment, the club proudly kept going. On many occasions when he was arrested along with his customers, he would bail himself and his customers out and re-open the bar the same night. His drag persona, Arna Lee, became famous during this time, accompanied by his outrageously fun costumes and tap dancing with a campy wit to match. During this time he became a Drag Mother to many budding female impersonators, a passion that spanned over 40 years.

—  John Wright