I hadn't been back to my birth family home since 1984 when my Dad threw me and my girlfriend out during a rare visit home. My parents were deeply religious and hadn't yet found a way to marry their beliefs with my sexuality. So I was 'out', out and proud with the rest of the power playing, trouble making, leather clad, tribe of Chain Reaction, and not about to be invited to Christmas with the straight family any time soon. We make our own luck..we make our own family ,we make our own Christmas. A tough gig coz no one really wants to be the outsider, the outlier to that heteronormative gig which is so soul destroying and sometimes downright dangerous for young women.
We planned to have the best Christmas we could have with no money, an anti consumerist Christmas by necessity not design. The place was the Forest Gate squat, the most communal of them all. All we had to do was organise some food, stock up on beer - we had enough games to last us for days.
I was always considered the most sensible so I had been delegated the job of cooking the turkey, a huge turkey that TJ had acquired from a hotel kitchen. TJ delivered the turkey into my fridge where it refused to stay, every morning I'd go down to the kitchen to find it had broken out and was half way across the floor. Not that it mattered as the squat we lived in was so cold and damp the bird barely defrosted in time.
A was with staying with us that Christmas. If straights thought we were loud, they hadn't met A! She was a tuned in, political, beardy American lesbo as special and as rare as a unicorn. A was pure magic, sprinkling queer fairy dust wherever we went and that included anarchist carol singing up the west end to get funds for the important victuals. “Hark the Harrods Cash Tills Ring”, raised enough money for a bottle of Johnnie Walker black label, and Stella cans all round.
On Christmas Day I dutifully got up early to ensure my bird was tenderly prepared though oddly I couldn't find the turkey baster anywhere? Still I cooked and basted to perfection, and turkey sizzled away in its little sea of gravy while we got ready for the party.
Getting dressed for a Chain Reaction party isn't difficult, just dress to be ready to fight and fuck. Any variation of leather biker jacket ,black boots or heels, chains and studs. While the lesbian feminists wanted to define our garb as fascist, our jackets and studs only marked us out as ready for sex, drugs and rock and roll.
We all bundled into the car with A on the front seat and the turkey resting in its juices in the footwell. I realised at the first corner that turkey should have been wrapped up for the journey as gravy waves decorated the inside of the car and we had to go back to mop ourselves up.
We finally arrived just as everyone was gathered around the table, twenty three hungry dykes with no dinner plan. The bird disappeared in minutes. I didn't get to taste it, there wasn't enough plates to go round. Instead I had a bowl of rice and onion bhaji, enough to line my stomach to join in the games. Punked out party games like pass the parcel with forfeits that played to your edges: piss in a glass in front of us all, be whipped for six, dance down the street wearing only a body harness.
It wasn't all hard and fast though, we stayed bundled up for three days taking turns to kip on the sofa, make tea, watch telly, smoke a shecki.
My big chain reaction family are still together, bundled up via Facebook, we might be all over the world, but we know how to celebrate at queermas ..and we're still cooking.