I’ve never been one for false dichotomies. For one, as much as I say I’m a cat person, I freaking love Coach, and he’s a brilliant dog, even when he’s naughtily refusing to drop that foul thing he just found in the field and gobbling it up whole to deliver back to me as a not-so-nice surprise later.
Naughty or nice is one of those dichotomies that makes me raise an eyebrow. Because, let’s face it, naughty can be very nice, and it’s sometimes nice to be naughty.
So, while it might not score you points with Santa, how about two holiday anthologies—one a bit naughty, one a bit nice—to enjoy together as a whole?
On the “nicer” scale (though there’s some naughty in there) is Upon a Midnight Clear. An anthology edited by Greg Herren that I bumped into a few years ago and re-read throughout December of 2013, when I was doing my “Short Stories 365” project to review a short story a day for a year. It’s a fantastic anthology and tackles some great thoughts on the notion of the holidays and how they intersect with the queer world. In his introduction, Herren points out Christmas is one of the few times of the year that being queer is felt so damn strongly for many. I certainly feel it. For years, Christmas was me, outside, looking in, and while I was alone, it freaking sucked. And everywhere I looked—especially once I started retail—it was all about the perfect family, with perfect children (all white, by the way, which I’m sure adds an extra level of awesome for the intersectional folks out there), and the perfect presents, and that perfect morning. The 0ther “joy” that is the frustrating—and endless—parade of holiday movies. Just as sickening, just as devoid of anything queer, and always the same message: Christmas will fix everything!
Like hell it will. The stories in this anthology, though, add some gay to the narrative in a way that I adored. Here are Christmas stories—finally!—for us dispossessed. Especially the stories “It’s a Life,” by M. Christian, “Comfort and Joy,” by Jim Grimsley, “Skating,” by Stephen Soucy, “Secret Family Recipe,” by Warren Dunford, and “Rainbows,” by Jameson Currier.
Now, on the “naughtier” side, there’s Stocking Stuffers.
This was an anthology that got rescued from being out of print by Circlet Press (erotica for geeks!) and I bumped into this one as well during my quest for short stories in 2013.
The stories in this collection walk a solid range of kinks, heat levels, romance levels, and have such a wide variety of tone that I’m certain you’ll find something to love in it. The stockings, as it were, are well stuffed here.
Some of my favourites were: “Pink Santa Claus,” by Leigh W. Rutledge, “Under the Tree,” by M. Christian, “The Story of O. Henry, or, The Gifts of the Leathermen,” by Simon Sheppard, “To/From,” by Matthew Rettenmund, and “Christmas 1979,” by Jameson Currier.
So now I’ve shown you some of my “nice” favourites and my “naughty” favourites – which side do you generally look to during the holiday season? Nice and warm stories to rekindle your joy, or something a bit hotter that might send Santa skipping by—but totally worth it?