Sleighing it

Home for the holidays? Gay guys share their seasonal traditions

Depending on where you live, the 2020 holiday season may look very different to usual. Across the US, people are being told to stay home, maintain social distancing, or gather in only small groups. The CDC has issued guidelines warning against unnecessary travel, and offering advice on how to cope with holiday stress.

Despite the challenges, most of us want to celebrate the season as best we can. We caught up with a handful of guys to ask them where and how they’d be celebrating.

Daniel Jungo and Adam Abston – Florence, Kentucky, US


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A post shared by Daniel Jungo (@dany_jungo)

Do you have any specific holiday traditions you do every year?

Baking cookies.

Has the pandemic changed what you will be doing this holiday season?

Yes. Normally we would travel to Mexico to celebrate with family. This year we are staying home in Kentucky; Watching Christmas-y movies and playing video games.

Jeff Miller and Anthony Navarro – based between Los Angeles and Chicago, US

Jeff Miller and Anthony Navarro
Jeff Miller and Anthony Navarro (Photo: Supplied)

Jeff and Anthony are co-Hosts of the podcast Talk Out Loud. They’re pictured here with their pups, Poptart, Jax, Prince, Mickey.

Do you have any specific holiday traditions?

Since we have been together, we have created a way to celebrate with both of our families. On Christmas Eve, earlier in the day, we go to Anthony’s dad’s home just outside of Chicago, where his family celebrates the evening with an Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. There are typically 50-60 people at that gathering with family and friends.

From there, we make our way to South Bend, Indiana, where Jeff is from, just in time to join Midnight Candlelight Service at the church where Jeff’s brother is the Pastor.

Has the pandemic changed your festivities?

There are a few changes for sure! The big fish feast at Anthony’s dad’s home is moving to July 24th, 2021 for a Christmas in July celebration. Instead, on Christmas Day, we are going to have a Zoom call with the entire family. We are working on putting together a virtual holiday bingo tournament for fun!

For the candlelight vigil mass, that will take place virtually, so we will have our candle kits at home with us the night of the mass.

We will be taking advantage of the outdoors this holiday with socially distant activities and have dates planned over seven days to see a few family members. This includes ice skating, cross country skiing, and roasting marshmallows, and having hot chocolate spread out around a bonfire. Everything we are planning will be outdoors, masks on and we will have to keep our distance.

Phillipe Taylor – London, UK


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A post shared by Phillipe Taylor (@8glass_kingdom7)

Do you have any specific holiday traditions?

Typically every year I spend the morning with my family. We have a great big breakfast at my Dad and Stepmom’s house where everyone gathers. Then I spend the day driving around the city seeing extended family and usually I end the day at a friend’s house having a few drinks possibly playing games or watching movies.

Has the pandemic changed your plans?

The pandemic has changed my holiday season 100%. I was expecting a slight change seeing as how I am a new ex-pat from Toledo, Ohio. But it’s been narrowed down to just me and my husband.

The initial plan was to be in Belfast to see his family, then it went to me possibly traveling back to Toledo alone since I missed Thanksgiving also due to the pandemic. That soon went away. After the last [UK] shutdown was lifted at the beginning of December we thought we’d be able to have friends over for Christmas. We invited two other couples over who also were going to be away from family this year. That again was quickly changed.

So our plans are now to have a Christmas at home. We have decided to take the day device-free(ish) to watch a marathon of holiday movies and to make a special breakfast and dinner for two. We will make sure to have a video chat with both of our families and also some friends.

Erik Alexander – New Orleans, Louisiana, US

Do you have any specific holiday traditions?

Traditions have and always will be an important part of my life, especially since we [husbands Erik and Douglas] have children. Since our oldest was born, one tradition we love to do is on Christmas Eve, we bundle up and board the New Orleans streetcar on Saint Charles Avenue and gaze at all the beautiful Christmas lights that are on display amongst the gorgeous mansions.

Unfortunately, this year, it will be different because we usually complete our ride at the foot of Canal Street to explore the beautiful lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel. We will leave this behind this year as the risk of Covid is too high. However, instead, we will then go home and ride around the city looking at displays from the safety of our own vehicle. Even in an unprecedented pandemic, we must improvise so we can create that much-needed magic that Christmas so easily brings about.

Henry – Virginia, US


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A post shared by Henry Clark (@therealhenryjames)

Usually I spend time with family, however seeing as though we are in a pandemic and I work for a hospital, I will be working this holiday season. However once I am off, my husband, Jerome [above right in the first photo], and I plan on opening gifts next to the fireplace and spending as much time we can together listening to some Christmas music and eating some southern food.

Filippo Grandulli – Sardinia, Italy


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A post shared by FilippoGrandulli (@filippo_grandulli)

My name is Filippo Grandulli, I am a fashion designer, and my husband Daniele Coppi [above right] is a graphic designer. We have been a couple for almost twenty years and we got married in 2017.

We love Christmas very much. Every year for this season we decorate the whole house. We have a Christmas tree in the living room and one in the bedroom. The whole house is decorated for a party, even the bathroom!

Our mothers spend Christmas with us. We are very lucky. There is a lot of harmony in our families.

This is going to be a different Christmas because of the coronavirus. We couldn’t have the Christmas party with all our friends, with games and gift exchanges. We will spend Christmas at home. This virus has taken a part of our Christmas but we are still optimistic and we live in the best of these days. The new rules in Italy are very strict, but we will still be able to see our mothers. Our Christmas has many traditions, we cook gingerbread cakes and cookies. We are a traditional gay Christmas couple.

Luke and Kyle in Toronto – Ontario, Canada


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A post shared by Luke & Kyle (he/him) (@canuxabroad)

In the lead up to Christmas, we normally watch our favorite Christmas movies, bake, and shop. We like to go downtown to see the Christmas Tree and the Christmas set up at Hudson’s Bay. We open our gifts on Christmas day to each other and we also usually go over to my parents’ place and help them with a big Turkey dinner with all of our family.

The rest of the holiday season is filled with enjoying our Christmas presents and several more family dinners with Kyle’s family and with mine. Kyle’s family lives about two or so hours outside of Toronto and we usually go up around Boxing Day and spend a few days with them.

Has the pandemic changed things?

The pandemic has changed how we will celebrate! Toronto has been in a super soft lockdown since the end of November so we couldn’t really go anywhere. We are doing a scaled-back version of baking because we aren’t as able to get stuff out to people.

For Christmas day we are trying to find alternative ways to celebrate with family. For my [Luke’s] family we are having dinner catered and delivered to my parent’s place. We are then going to pick it up at the door wearing masks and will eat it at home. My family is kind of old school and doesn’t really do Zoom, so I’m not sure if that is in the cards for us.

We were supposed to go see Kyle’s family after Christmas Day, but that is when our province goes into a full lockdown. As a result, we will have dinner and a Zoom conversation with them. We will go up to see them when it is safer.

Jeffrey – Ludlow, Massachusetts, US

(Photo: @rebelcreation | Instagram)

Do you have any specific holiday traditions you do every year?

We started a holiday tradition our very first Christmas with finding a glass, figurine type ornament (usually from that represents something special from that year or encompasses it. For example, this year we got a mask-wearing Santa because it was only fitting to describe the year.

Has the pandemic changed your plans?

This year we will be spending Christmas with a select group of close family members at their home. These family members work with me so we see them constantly and feel comfortable enough to spend it together. Usually, during the holidays we would get together with 30+ people so this will be a lot different than a normal Christmas.

Charles – Ohio, US

My name is Charles [on the right, with partner Malik on the left]. During the holiday season, I typically spend it with my family and friends. This year I have had the pleasure to spend it both with my family and partner. During the season we all exchange gifts, cook, play games, and share our favorite family moments.

The pandemic has totally altered the season for some families, including mine. This season has brought us very close. Distant family members have been included due to the changes of this year. Tomorrow is never promised so at a safe distance and with many negative COVID results, my family will celebrate collectively and we’re happy about that. It’s also important for a Queer and Black man to be supported by family, especially during the holiday time and I’ve been blessed to have that piece.

Timothy Cappelli – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US


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A post shared by Timothy Cappelli (@tcappelli)

Do you have holiday traditions?

Every year I normally bake and build gingerbread houses with my special needs brother, Giuseppi. Make peanut brittle with my mom. I also make Orange slice Christmas decorations for wrapping gifts and around our tree.

How has the pandemic changed this year’s festivities?

My birthday is Christmas Eve and this year, because of the pandemic, I haven’t seen my family for my birthday or Christmas. Most of the annual traditions will wait for next year. Instead, I am doing a small birthday and Christmas with my partner.

Henry Dez – Los Angeles, California, US

Henry Dez
(Photo: @henrydez320 | Instagram)

Do you have any specific holiday traditions?

Normally every year I host an Ugly Sweater Gathering with my friends. It’s a night of games, food, holiday drinks, gifts, and spending the holidays together. My family tends to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. The whole family (cousins, aunts, uncles) would dress up, get together to spend time with one another, and enjoy the holidays together.

How has the pandemic changed your plans?

With the pandemic, this holiday season has definitely been different. I fly out to Chicago every year to see my family and friends back home. My mother is everything to me and I have not been able to see her and family since last Christmas. Breaking the news to her that I was not coming was very overwhelming.

I am very protective of her and we thought staying put was the best decision I think I could have made to keep her safe.

All my family is back in Chicago and not being able to see them has made things much harder for me to grasp this holiday season.

I tried to stay positive by making my home here in Los Angeles extra festive and special. My roommate and I decorated our apartment so nicely in order to give us a warm and cozy feeling. My roommate and I decided not to go back home so we will be spending it here in LA with each other.

Henry wanted to make his apartment feel extra special this year (Photo: Supplied)

On Christmas we will be Zooming with our families, opening presents via Zoom, and having breakfast over Zoom as well. It’s the best we can do given the pandemic. The best gift I can have is knowing that they are alive, healthy and safe.

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