As we pause our feverish LGBT world of activism, anger or apathy, this will be our one post for the day, and I want to wish you all much holiday happiness by sharing with you a Christmas story that will lift your spirits and warm your hearts.
What happens when two guys living in New York City's Chelsea gayborhood mysteriously begin to receive an avalanche of mail addressed to Santa? That is the premise of the beautiful and touching story of Jim and Dylan, a gay couple who have inadvertently found themselves at the center of this year's biggest Christmas miracle. How and why hundreds of letters to Santa from kids in various New York neighborhoods ended up in their mailbox is still a mystery, but their response to this situation has done us all proud. Rather than ignore the letters, they decided to answer them and to send gifts to the children who wrote them. They enlisted friends and co-workers to help with the daunting task. Their story was featured in the Christmas Eve edition of the New York Times, and I had a delightful Christmas Eve conversation with Jim.
Jim and Dylan have been a couple for a respectable three years and became engaged in Paris during the summer. They are planning a Spring wedding perhaps in Massachussetts. Dylan is in the publishing and communications field and Jim does advertising and marketing for off-Broadway shows. They might be safely described as your typical young, energetic, successful, attractive, entertaining New York City gay couple, with one difference: they are Santa Claus. After I read their story as told by Sarah Klein in the New York Times, and watched her lovely video I had a number of questions for the newly minted gay Santas who are as delightful and humble as you'd hope them to be. Jim, who is less shy than his partner, responded for them both. Watch the video, and you'll find the interview after the break.
How does it feel to suddenly find yourselves at the center of a Christmas miracle?
Jim: I think literally I've cried like six times today, because of the beautiful comments I've received from friends and strangers. It's really amazing to know that people really care and it makes you feel like you are part of a huge community. The part that I feel bad about is that some of the letters didn't get fulfilled. Time ran out. I'll finish the remainder when I get back to NYC. [They have just traveled to Kansas City to be with family for Christmas].
Have you been able to discover why you are getting all this mail addressed to Santa?
Jim: No. We still can't figure it out. It has been suggested that it might have something to do with the fact that Clement Clarke Moore who wrote "Twas The Night Before Christmas" lived in Chelsea, but the mail is specifically addressed to our building and to our apartment. Our super didn't have any explanation and finally we decided to stop trying to figure it out once we made the decision to fulfill the letters.
So how do you feel about being suddenly highlighted as gay heroes or role models?
Jim: Well we've supported gay causes, but Dylan and I are now thrown into being activists. No, we didn't sign up for this. I guess I'm more of a public person than Dylan, but we need to make some decision about how to proceed. The thing is we had to ask ourselves were the letters intended for us? We talked it over and decided that it didn't matter.
It's interesting to think about kids growing up and learning that Santa was really two gay guys in Chelsea. How do you think that will make them feel?
Jim: By the time they grow up, it won't matter. Years from now, they won't even think in terms of gay or not-gay.
Was it hard to get people to help you fulfill the letters?
Jim: No. Between Facebook and friends we recruited about 150 who promised to fulfill them. There was only a little cynicism and suspicion that it might be a scam. You should see these letters. Some are heartbreaking. Others are simple wishes. One I thought was cute was from a boy named Diego who got right to the point by saying he was good all year and wanted a Playstation3. Period.
Are you going to do this again next year if the letters come again?
Jim: Literally yesterday we dropped off the last batch. We started the fulfillment so late. It's overwhelming but it's so inspiring to me. Something bigger than just Dylan and me and I can't imagine sitting on the side and not doing it. Facebook would be a great way to get it done. I could set up a page, but yes, I think the answer will be yes, we'll do it again.
Well maybe the Latino kids won't mind getting a late response from Santa this year because they have the tradition of receiving gifts on Three Kings Day in January.
Jim: Or maybe we'll just tell them that Santa was partying hard at a gay bar in Chelsea and got a little behind schedule.