I greatly miss receiving printed gay Christmas cards in the post.

In the 1990s and 2000s, every overseas holiday also meant buying more cards from shops like A Different Light, Oscar Wilde Bookshop, 80% Straight, Gay Mart USA, or any sex shop in Amsterdam or London.

Whatever gay sub-group your friends attached themselves to, there were appropriate titillating cards to send them.

Tom Of Finland Cards

Remember the Tom of Finland rip-offs? And the triple-fold-out cute twink with a big bow wrapped around his (always) enormous donger, the proud-to-be-gay ones that used some form of variation of the rainbow colours, the bears, leathermen, the bitchy queens, and of course, the butt with the candle or fairy-light deeply ensconced therein?

Classic messages accompanying photos ranged from a big penis (“I hope this present fits”), naked men cuddling (“A perfect fit…you and I”), a naked butt (“Dear Smart Ass”), and the hunk in hot jocks (“To someone who is young, hung and dumb. Well, one out of three ain’t bad”). Then there were the more generic “Have a gay old time,” “You old queen,” “Don’t be a drag – it’s Christmas” to “The only package I want this Christmas is yours.”

They were not always very clever or creative, sometimes a bit smutty, and often politically incorrect. But who cared. It was fun, reflected the gay viewpoint – and we owned the sentiment expressed.

There was pride in openly accepting that you were gay, appreciating that your recipient was gay and that you were sending a heart-felt message of acceptance to him.

Festive Cheer And Pride

Many of the best cards of that era came from 10% Productions in America who even in 1995 proclaimed belief “in a world of love, compassion and mutual respect,” donated 10% of their profits to charities, and used “environmentally sensitive” recycled paper.

In those pre-internet days, there was the anticipation of which in-your-face-though-wildly-appropriate card would be chosen by your friends for you to receive.

You were happy to display them in your home, taking care to remember to deftly remove them before the family visited or to place them front and center when a potential trick paid a visit. They were great talking points while imbibing in too much festive cheer.

It is an era now confined to the archives, replaced by digital imitations that have a fleeting three-second life compared with the weeks of enjoyment emanating from the mantelpiece.

Christmas is just not the same anymore.

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