Every year around this time, about a hundred different interpretations of A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker hit the stage, not to mention an endless list of concerts and other special presentations. If you’re LGBTQ+ and looking to see YOUR holiday spirit represented on stage however, sifting through the event page on Facebook can be tedious and annoying enough to turn any green and red bedecked Who into a grade-A Grinch. Luckily, I’ve done a fair amount of sifting for you, and here’s a (in no way exhaustive because I can’t catch everything no matter how hard I try to for you!) list of queer-friendly holiday entertainment.
For Those Looking to Keep This Yuletide Gay
These events are ones that center around standard winter holiday fare and heavily feature LGBTQ+ artists, writers, or themes and issues.
One of my “must-sees” year after year is basically “anything by the Twin Cities’ Gay Men’s Chorus.” Their work is absolutely lovely, and appeals to so many people well beyond standard fans of choral music. This year they’re doing a holiday-inclusive “Gay Holiday Spectacular,” that presumably doesn’t stick to a diehard Christmas setlist. However, for those looking for something gay, off-beat, and traditional all at once, here’s a great start.
Penumbra Theater is another surefire hit if you like your Christmas holidays pretty close to what you grew up with. Their Black Nativity is a gospel-based, stunning version of your run of the mill nativity play, and in addition to adding necessary black voices to the fold, it’s based on the poetry of gay icon Langston Hughes. Find out more here, including how to grab your tickets to this breathtaking show.
If you’re looking for something simple and fun to kick off your holiday celebration season, Lush’s normal Cast Party event on Sunday is being turned into a Holiday sing-a-long and karaoke event. Find out more here—no reservation needed.
Patrick’s Cabaret has a really wonderful, often hilarious series of Cabarets that starts with “My Horrifying”. Their My Horrifying Holiday one is one of their most popular events of the year, and this year they’ve got some theatre, standard cabaret fare, and poetry—and that’s just for starters. You can read more here and grab your tickets at the same time.
What would the winter holidays be without innovated classics? The one I’m most excited about is Visions of Sugarplums: A Burlesque Nutcracker. Co-produced by Nadine DuBois of Grown & Sexy Productions, it’s also got a largely queer cast and artistic crew. It also just looks and sounds beautiful.
On the surface, the Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical might seem like an odd choice for this list on the surface, and content-wise that may be true. However, TGATPCM has significant ties to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and is being produced at Camp Bar, the sometimes overlooked, incredibly charming queer bar in the heart of St. Paul. Laughter is an important, often forgotten part of the holiday season, and this is the perfect spot to get your fill!
It likely goes without saying, but the Minneapolis/St. Paul recurring drag and burlesque shows are probably going to all become must-sees for holiday fanatics as the month goes on, so don’t miss your normal nights at The Townhouse, Lush, or the Gay ’90s (for example) to get you in the Christmas mood! The one I KNOW I can’t wait for is Dolly Parton’s Hard Candy Christmas Drag Brunch, but they’re all going to be fantastic.
For Elf-Free Winter Fun
Essentially this is your list if you’re looking for something holiday-ish, Pagan, or otherwise slightly off-beat though not totally barren of snowflakes.
Telling Queer History is one of my favorite monthly events in the Twin Cities. What they’re doing is so important—queer oral history and conversation is one of the most wonderful things we have to offer each other, and while this Sunday’s event is not explicitly winter holiday themed, it is about the very LGBTQ+ focused topic of chosen family, something many in our community need to rely on during the holidays. The Facebook event is your best bet for more info.
Full disclosure: I’m producing this one, but Gadfly is doing a staged reading of a play by local queer playwright Eli Effinger-Weintraub that centers around Pagan Yule as opposed to Christian Christmas. The event is cheap or free depending on your preference. Our website for more info.
OutSpoken has been featured here at The Column before, and while it’s a reoccurring monthly event, their December show usually has just a hint of winter mischief without being so candy-cane laced that it’ll make you nauseous. More info here.
Venus DeMars, my favorite vegan noms, and the word “GothiCoffee” is all I needed to know to add Winter Solstice GothiCoffee to our list, but honestly whether you’re Pagan, goth, both, or neither, this is going to be a wonderful, trans-inclusive, amazing night of music. Whether you’ve seen DeMars live a million times or not at all, this event will thrill you all the same.
For When You’re Over (or not ready for) Winter Wonderlands
These are shows starring our beautiful LGBTQ+ community taking place throughout December that have nothing to do with trying to shove the Holiday spirit down your throat, offering you community and art from a queer perspective instead.
An event I have been sitting in eager, not-so-patient anticipation of for probably a month now is Patrick’s Cabaret’s show going on THIS weekend. Controlled Burn features some of the absolutely most innovative performing artists in the Twin Cities, and is a beautiful mix of big names like Marcel Michelle Obama (burlesque) and Venus DeMars (music) as well as artists that are coming from underground venues or are just now making a name for themselves. Find out the details here, but trust me, you do not want to completely miss this amazing festival. If you can’t make it every night, make it as often as you can.
Another cheap but very worthy plug: Gadfly is also producing a new slant on our Drunk Queer History series: Sober Queer History. We’re partnering with Out and Sober for it, and details and tickets are here. Total stocking-free zone.
Huge Theater is an improv theater in Uptown that really works to be inclusive of all marginalized people. Their rotating casts frequently feature LGBTQ+ performers and content, and laughter is definitively necessary when you’re trying to escape this season. Check out their full roster here.
As I mentioned, this is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list, just a (substantial) starting point for your holiday entertainment this December, whether you’re looking for straight-up Christmas, wanting to run as far away from it as possible, or looking for something completely different from either of those options. Feel free to plug any events I did not cover in the comments section, or even drop us a line to make sure we’re aware of your event and organization.
As a final note, I know the holidays are incredibly tough for a lot of people in our community, and that’s likely especially true this year for a myriad of reasons. Check in on each other, be good to each other, and head out to any one of these events when you’re looking for genuine tidings of comfort and joy to soothe your beautiful queer soul.