Creating our own traditions

Pub date November 20, 2012
WriterAirial Clark

HOLIDAY GUIDE Hold onto your butts, sweethearts, ’tis the season. Your kids are about to be out of school, your extended family is about to fly in, and your alone time is about to dwindle down to a nub.

Don’t fear, we’ve got you covered.

This holiday guide is designed specifically for LGBTQ families, sex-positive families, and other parents who don’t fit into the monogamous, heteronormative mold. Why? Most holiday advice directed at families comes with a heaping dose of heterosexism. Plus, feeling isolated from larger community networks — a common experience for parents — is especially prevalent among parents with sexual identities that reside outside the norm. That feeling of not being connected can result in stress on alt-families during the holiday season.

But not this season! This year we’ve got tips, a recipe, and events to keep you loving your queer, kinky, radical-parenting self.


The easiest way to stay sane during the holidays is to maximize the friends and family you’ve already got. If you’re not careful, a house full of holiday guests can seriously cut down on the already limited amount of sexytime parents are allotted.

So don’t think that you have to be the one to take your children to the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band’s Dance-Along Nutcracker. Try to get your in-laws to do it, while you squeeze in a quickie with your partner or have a grown-up play date with your friend with benefits. Sure, you still have to wrap the kids’ presents — but you should really have someone unwrap your clothing first.

In this truly unique SF version of the Nutcracker, the audience dances along while the Freedom Band plays Tchaikovsky’s classical suite. Tutus are available for rent on site.

Dec. 8, 2:30 p.m. and Dec. 9, 1pm, $25 for adults, $16 for children and seniors.


The best part about being a non-traditional parent is that we create the rituals. Here’s two family-focused events that each seek to empower parents.

At Rad Dad Zine’s 23rd issue release party — celebrating an end-of-the-year issue appropriately titled “Making Family” — parents will do short readings from the zine, followed by a discussion on radical parenting at this kid-friendly community gathering. Parenting norms? Hmph, let’s go poke at stick at them.

Dec. 15, 5-7pm, free. The Holdout, 2313 San Pablo, Oakl.

You’re encouraged to “bring the foods and holiday traditions that make this season meaningful to your family” to the annual Our Family Winter Solstice Party. This year, the LGBTQ group is partnering with San Francisco Recreation and Parks to hold the celebration at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, where the party will feature a magician, the group’s legendary multi-table gingerbread-making station, and other arts and crafts.

Dec. 16, noon-2:30pm, free. Eureka Valley Recreation Center, 100 Collingwood, SF.


I encourage potluck-style casual dinners with other families during the holiday season. It doesn’t have to be a big production, and if it’s other parents who are coming over, your house doesn’t even have to be super-clean. (They get it.) Just offering a space to gather is an important contribution, and if it goes well, next time around a different family can host.

At the best family holiday potluck I ever went to, the kids made all the food. My sons were six and seven at the time, and weren’t allowed to use sharp knives or the stove, as was the case for most of the other children in our little after school collective. We found easy, no-cook recipes that they could make with very little assistance from their grown-ups.

The variety of dishes we wound up with was hilarious and festive — probably not the most balanced meal ever cooked, but nutritional concerns took a back seat to the pride the kids felt in sharing food they had made themselves. The hands-down favorite dish of the evening was this little number:



1 package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed

3 cups milk

1 package graham cracker squares

1 package prepared chocolate frosting

1 package holiday M&M’s


Whisk together the pudding mix, whipped topping, and milk. Arrange as you would a lasagna, with a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking pan. Drop spoonfuls of the pudding mixture over the crackers, leaving about half in the bowl. Then add another layer of crackers and the remaining mixture. Top with the last of crackers. Spread the frosting over the whole cake, up to the edges of the pan. Place M&M’s on the frosting. Cover, and chill at least four hours before serving.


No holiday guide would be complete without the perfect gift recommendation. I’m bestowing this honor on Santa Rosa-based Calliope Designs’s personalized holiday ornaments. The company has been making them for over 30 years, and its website specifically states how happy it is to make ornaments for LGBTQ families: “We know that families come in all shapes and sizes and are happy to present ornaments to the gay and lesbian partners and families all over the world.” How can you not adore that?


Regardless of if you’re having sex alone or with a partner, your sexuality matters. That can mean prioritizing some grown-up time at one of the great sex-ed classes offered by Good Vibrations. I’ve heard that sometimes attendees leave with a free gift! The only challenge is that classes are during prime “must be at home with the kids” time. How to resolve? Do a childcare swap that includes dinner. One day a week, you host the brood, then later in the week your parent-ally can host. Maybe you can even attend a Good Vibes “Humpday Happy Hour” workshop. Every Wednesday you can find a free sexuality workshop at one of the store’s Bay Area locations. Here are two upcoming classes that I highly recommend:

“The Art of Clitoral Stimulation” Dec. 6, 6:30-7:30pm, free. Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk, SF;”50 Shades of Play” Dec. 12, 6:30-7:30pm, free. Good Vibrations, 603 Valencia, SF. (415) 522-5460,

Airial Clark is the Sex-Positive Parent, an East Bay sex educator who teaches workshops on raising kids outside heteronormative models of family. Read more about her work at