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Thanksgiving Stinks & the Kitchen Sink

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Yeah, we all know it. Despite the sea of Beaujolais Nouveau and 12 kinds of pie, Thanksgiving stinks for a lot of people. Though props to you queers who have everything lining up nicely on the health and wealth side of things and somehow escape the usual family trauma served up hot with a ladle or two of hate.

Still, I’ll count my small and large blessings, just for kicks. And at the top of the list is how my local Rite Aid has gone right from crepe paper skeletons to chocolate Santas, so I can ignore Thanksgiving entirely and stay in a sugar coma the whole holiday season. There’s not much seven or eight handfuls of candy corn can’t cure.

And I realized yesterday that I really appreciate the people who post cute photos of animals on Facebook. I mean, I like kittens as much as anybody and little baby French bulldogs, but I’m never gonna go in search of them. And I’m way too cool to admit how hard I laughed at those two kittens in the coffee cups that looked exactly like frothy cappuccinos until I noticed the eyes.

And senility. Yeah, not mine. My mother’s. She’s not really a fan but I can’t deny the upside, that she’s forgotten how repulsive she finds me and my dykeness and is insanely grateful when I call, no matter what she tells folks afterwards. We can talk 20 minutes with no insults. No threats to pray away the gay and for God to make me disgustingly normal. Of course it’s heartbreaking, too. It would’ve been nice if she’d come around while she was still in full possession of her faculties, but beggars can’t be choosers. You’ll eat that free cheese and like it!

Which reminds me, cheese. Tangy fresh goat chèvre. Those rancid blues. And melty mozzarellas or gruyeres. I’m especially grateful for anything that bubbles up, browns, and gives a third-degree burn to the roof of my mouth.

Of course I’m insanely thankful for artists and writers of all kind who are not afraid to fly the flag for freakdom, imagining things that aren’t there and seeing what is. And thanks to the people who have introduced me to the likes of Octavia Butler and, of course, Ursula K. Le Guin. I’ve loved her since I read “The Dispossess­ed,” and renewed my fangirl status after her speech at the National Book Awards about the power of books, and how “Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art — the art of words.”

That being said, all hail the people that go beyond words and the laboratory of their art, and risk resisting bigotry and stupidity in the streets. And the courts. In Botswana this week, Legabibo, a gay and lesbian group, won a landmark legal case in the country’s High Court, allowing it to be officially registered. And in Uganda, where we’re under attack, there are fierce, incredibly brave activists fighting back.

Drag queens and kings are also on my short list. Those queers unafraid to take their garish wigs and stereotypical mannerisms into the street where they’re most at risk. Who with their enormous fingernails or dicks of extraordinary length unravel the artifice of femininity and masculinity that plague us all. Thank you. Mil gracias. You’ve taught and (sometimes) terrified me since that bar in Lexington, Kentucky, where you used to carry switchblades. You know the one.

And for that matter, a shout out to my babe who is just as happy to see me in a furry brown skirt and stripey tights as the usual boring, please don’t fuck with me jeans. I admit to cowardice and a nearly PTS desire to pass unnoticed in the streets. No catcalls. No challenges. No demands that I smile. All things being equal, my secret fashion perversions are neither butch nor femme, pink nor blue, but a desire to mix stripes with plaid. Smooth with rough or fleecy.

That’s a pretty good start, I think. Let me also acknowledge my friends, including activist colleagues who still have my back after a couple decades out of touch. And the joys of modern technology, including flat screen TV’s and cell phones. Email, that essential curse. Cooking shows. Salted cashews. Proper beds. Running water. And, of course, you, dear reader.

Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” published earlier this year by the University of Minnesota Press.

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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