Melissa Carter: Consider giving in to retail pressure

What's the hottest new toy this Christmas? If I were still a kid it wouldn't matter to my parents. They'd think it's too expensive and that they could put something together that's just as good as the original....

Melissa Carter: Going to grandma’s house in the ATL

It took my son two months to do what I've attempted to do myself for more than a decade. My mother, Millie Pete, is now an Atlanta resident. When Mr. Carter was born in October, Millie Pete decided she wante...
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‘Tis the season for holiday parties

Atlanta’s gay calendar is always a robust one but the holiday season can create whiplash for partygoers. Here are some of the major parties and special events through the end of 2013. The king daddy of the holi...
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Theater for the holiday season

Gone are the days when Christmas at local theater companies meant variation after variation of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” Sure, that show is still around but so are gobs of other Yuletide goodies for LGBT patrons.

For one, “The Santaland Diaries” will be back for its 15th year at Horizon Theatre. Based on gay writer David Sedaris’ own experience as a department store elf, as related in his “Holidays On Ice,” it has proven to be a gay favorite year after year. Here, the Sedaris figure is played by Harold M. Leaver, whose Crumpet character is forced to don the elf suit during the holidays one season when money is low. It’s not just as one-man show, though - Leaver’s co-stars are Enoch King, now in his sixth year, and LaLa Cochran, in her second, and they generate laughs as well.


What started as a staged reading is now a holiday must-see, much to the creative team’s surprise. They all thought by the fifth or sixth year it would be over. “We thought it may be close to saturation by that time but audiences keep increasing,” says Leaver. This year, he says, there is ample ammunition for pop culture references in the production - the government shutdown, Miley Cyrus, the IRS scandal, healthcare. 

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Get in the spirit: LGBT holiday happenings

Toy Party

Ready to don your gay apparel? Atlanta's social calendar is packed with LGBT holiday events to get you in the spirit of the season. Here are a few of the performances, parties and other gatherings slated for the coming weeks.

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Don’t miss these favorite ATL holiday traditions

Holiday events

Atlanta may not be a typical winter wonderland, but the season is still filled with events and attractions to get you in the holiday spirit. While not as LGBT-specific as Toy Party or gay chorus concerts, you’ll also find plenty of “family” at these beloved traditions.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
Nov. 17-Jan. 5 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

“Garden Lights, Holiday Nights” at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is among the newest traditions on our list, debuting last year. By turns whimsical and ethereal, this lovely lighted walk through the 30-acre garden uses more than 1.5 million low-energy lights to create a vision that is nothing short of delightful. Among the new features this year are the Vincent Van Gogh-inspired “Starry Night Walk and “Liquid Lights,” a lighted fountain display in the Cascades Garden described as “an icy cool vibe.” Favorites from last year also return, including the “Orchestral Orbs” display set to holiday music on the Great Lawn.

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Melissa Carter: Peace, joy, and … family?

Melissa CarterChristmas is a time for joy and peace — until you get around your family. There always seems to be one nagging holiday issue that resurfaces each year for every clan.

It might be where and when you gather, or even who gets to come celebrate. For my family, the big issue has always been determining the best gift exchange scenario.

It began after I started college. Since I was the youngest child, my parents finally had an empty nest. As a broke college student, I cried to my mom that I wasn’t going to be able to buy proper gifts for my whole family, which then forced her to initiate the conversation with everyone about a structured gift exchange to save us all money. Twenty years later we still haven’t found an arrangement that makes everyone happy.