Sunday, 29 November 2015

Make the Yuletide Gay : 1

Happy Advent everyone. There’s only 4 Sundays left before Christmas and I’m celebrating again. This year instead of concentrating on people I’m getting into the party mood and looking at some of the things that makes Christmas “happy and gay”.

We’ll start with the very song which inspired the title of this Advent series, a line from the popular song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.

The song was written by Hugh Martin for the 1944 film “Meet Me In St. Louis”. It was sung by the film’s star, that great gay icon Judy Garland. It quickly became a regular Christmas standard. The lines from the song go like this :

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Make the yuletide gay.
From now on our troubles will be miles away”.

The song’s original lyrics were not so optimistic. The opening lines were :

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
It may be your last.
Next year we may all be living in the past.”

Very jolly – I don’t think!

Thankfully, Judy Garland and her soon-to-be husband, the film’s bisexual film director Vicente Minelli, though brighter lyrics were better.

Even in 1944 when the film was made the word “gay” had been used to describe homosexual men but it was more commonly used in its original sense of “happy and bright”. No-one thought of any deliberate double-meaning in introducing the word into this particular song at the time. Thankfully there are still many singers who sing the song with its gay yuletide intact.

The double meaning of the word gay was used deliberately in a 2004 romantic comedy whose title is the very line “Make the Yuletide Gay”. The film tells the story of a gay American college boy who goes to spend Christmas with his parents. Although he is openly gay in college he is not to his parents.
Christmas often presents difficult situations for lgbt people still, especially those who are in the same situation as the protagonist if the film.

The film received a favourable response on its original release. It won several awards at lgbt film festivals and there were plans to make a sequel, “Make the Yuletide Gay 2”. However, these plans were recently shelved, though the film’s writer hopes that it can be turned into a novel instead.

At the end of these four Advent articles I want to finish on a song. So what else could I end today with than the very song that gives this Advent series its name – Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. 

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