If you're like most Americans, today is your last day of holiday. The madness of the season is over, that hangover from New Year's Eve slowly fading. Want a fun but low key way to spend your last day before it's back to the rat race? Here are five great ways to kick in the new year.
1. Learn how to yodel watching New Zealand's highest grossing documentary. The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is the story of Jools and Lynda Topp, the world's only yodeling country singing and comedy lesbian twins who have become national treasures in the native homeland and abroad. The duo grew up singing to cows on their family farm to singing on the front lines of rallies and protests in the 1980s -- out, even when it was considered career suicide. The film documents how the Topps became unlikely cultural icons with their politically-charged comedy theater, Jools battle with breast cancer, and lesbian life in New Zealand. The film, now available on DVD, has already garnered 20 best documentary awards.
2. Go Gaga. If you were super busy during the holidays you may not have had time to crack it ope, but Lady Gaga's Nov. 21st DVD/CD combo release is an instant party. The Born This Way Remix CD offers up remixes of her songs by some seriously cool bands, including Goldfrapp and Foster the People, while the DVD has never-before-seen footage of her Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden. The LGBT anthem, Born This Way was the fastest single in history to reach sales of a million copies (just five days after its release).
3. Enter someone else's world with cinema. From the box office to Netflix, there were a ton of great LGBT films that came out during the holiday season. Among the must-sees: Beginners, a plodding but heartfelt film in which Christopher Plummer comes out as a gay man in his 70s, is on DVD, on-demand, digital download and Blu-ray (the latter has a pocket BLU app that lets you watch it on your iPhone or Droid). Still in (mostly indie) theaters, Albert Knobbs and We Need to Talk About Kevin, offer up compelling performances by women beloved by lesbians, Glen Close and Tilda Swinton respectively. And, the topper, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a must see for anyone who likes action thrillers, tough chicks, bisexuality, and a good Nazi murder mystery. (And yes, despite an ending that some dislike, it's as good as the original).
4. Prepare for the future. If you spent any time with your parents this holiday season, death may be on your mind (causing it or worrying about it, depending on how crazy the folks are). Peter Callan, a gay student and congressional intern, just released Prepare to Die!!! And Other Stuff Nobody Told You, a campily-titled but practical little guide to all things end of life including estate planning, burial, and health care directives. It's simple and substantive and Callan knows of what he preaches; when his brother, a Marine with PTSD, committed suicide and his father had a stroke the same year, Callan became the go-to guy on how to deal with the business of death. The book can be ordered by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 575-776-5201.
5. Find out why the people who fought the hardest to be out are now being forced to go back in the closet. Many LGBT seniors ultimately go back in the closet after years of being out for fear of mistreatment at senior housing facilities. Right now, 1.5 million of seniors are gay and according to SAGE, that number will double by 2030. While more facilities aimed at LGBT seniors open up, many aren't affordable to average folks (49% of Americas over 65 are poor or low income). A great way to thinking about about our forebears and our own futures, is to watch these two films. The critically acclaimed Gen Silenttackles this issue head on, by following six LGBT seniors who are faced with the issue of going back in the closet in order to survive. It asks the question social workers say is happening all over America: if you were old, disabled, or ill and the person feeding you put down the spoon and said you were going to hell unless you changed your sexual orientation, what would you do? Gen Silent is streaming live, for free viewing, until Jan. 8. Equally provocative on the flip side is Out Late, now on DVD, a moving doc that follows five individuals who decided to come out after they became seniors. Watching them begin again in late life, often after years of marriage and kids, is liberating and powerful viewing that can't help but make you think.