Sunday Shorts – “Teddy Bears,” by Brandon Witt

I’ve been a fan of holiday novellas since I first stumbled onto them. For queer folk, the holidays can really, really suck, and anything that manages to put a bit of cheer back into a time of year I find difficult is fine by me.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I have to really screen which holiday stories I’m reading. I seem to be mentioning this every five minutes lately, but if the main focus of a queer holiday tale is the reunion and reconciliation with an estranged family, it gets a pass from me. I want my queer stories to have chosen families, and to show queer folk finding their own way back to happy times.

Something a bit more, well, queer.

I’d never partaken in an Advent Calendar series before, and when I saw the theme of one was ‘Bah Humbug”?

I jumped on board.

Cover.jpgOther than working the front desk of a gay bathhouse in Denver, Brian McKay is a bit of a recluse. At the best of times, his social life consists of work, role-playing games at a local toyshop, and making YouTube videos with his Teddy Bear hamsters. The arrival of the holidays—with the annoying music, Christmas shopping, and all the reminders of how he disappointed his father—just reinforces his reclusive nature.

When James Olsen, a gorgeous daddy bear who frequents the bathhouse, notices him, Brian is at a loss. He’s not proud of his own bear status or his struggle with weight. The idea that James has interest in him beyond an easy hookup is more than Brian can fathom. But with a little bit of holiday magic, James might help Brian learn to accept Christmas again—and himself.

So Teddy Bears was a great little novella that explored a queer holiday from a bunch of fresh angles that I can’t recall seeing before:

One: both of the guys involved aren’t in their twenties/early thirties. (I love reading about guys my age or guys older than I am, frankly.)

Two: bears who aren’t just muscle bears! (And one who’s struggling to be cool with his body, which—hey—we’ve all been there, no?)

Three: nerd/geek who isn’t “secretly gorgeous super-lean model type once he gets new clothes and reveals his abs.” (Because no.)

Four: Buffy/Spike/Angel dwarf hamster YouTube stars. (No, like, really.)

Five: a bathhouse setting for a romance? (Yep.)

So, with that in mind, if you’re in the mood for a holiday story that lives up to its description, you’re well advised to nab this one for the next time you want something jolly, sweet, a little bit smexy, and funny to boot. This was a wonderful bit of warmth for a frigid winter day.

So, thanks, Brandon Witt.


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