Holiday music was always pretty queer, but Tom Goss’ EP Big Fat Gay Ass Christmas takes it to a whole new level. Options spoke to Goss about his Gay holiday music, the ways Queer and Trans people navigate the holidays, his love of bears, and more.
Holidays are a bitter-sweet time in the Queer world. They are full of camp, glitter, pizzaz, and a plethora of innuendos you can giggle at with your cousins at Christmas dinner. Yet unfortunately, the holidays for too many Queer people mean having to face unaccepting family and hiding back in the closet. There is nothing “happy” about holidays if you have to disguise your authentic self behind a façade to avoid confrontation with relatives. However, Tom Goss flips that self-censorship on its head with his new Extended Play (EP) Big Fat Gay Ass Christmas, which reclaims ownership of Gross’s identity, and his love of bears… and not the kind you’ll find in the woods.
Goss is an interesting character to chat with. Born and raised in a quiet midwestern town in Wisconsin, who by 22 was in seminary school to be a Catholic priest. This is a life far removed from the Goss of today, an LA-based singer-songwriter posing in album photos seated on top of another man wearing only a smile and a strategically placed nutcracker. He even told Options how Providence, RI helped start his career: “I love Providence, I played one of my first Prides there in 2008.” Yet, how did this lead to him creating a holiday music collection?
“I wanted to create something for especially the Queer community who feels like Christmas might not be as joyful as the rest of the world says,” Goss says about creating his first holiday album. That feeling of community comes through with the EP featuring a wide variety of musical talent from Benjamin Koll, Big Daddy Karsten, Keith Lawrence, de ROCHE, Roxy Wood, Drake Jensen, and Ryan Satyr. The group used their talents in hip-hop, rock, country, and rap to create an eclectic four-song soundtrack that embodies the artists’ joy and celebration of their authentic selves.
The first track Santa Slay brings the vogue-ballroom vibe with silky smooth vocals by Goss, Roxy Wood, and Ryan Satyr and lyrics suggesting Santa has more than just presents. “ I thought it needed a little bit of grit and so I got a hold of Drake Johnson who's a Canadian country artist, he's really wonderful and kind of this big, big sexy daddy type of guy to add a little bit of that Santa gruffness.”
Following Santa Slay is Put that Ass in Christmass, a hip-hop track featuring Big Daddy Karsten “I've been a fan of his for a while and he's really in your face” and Keith Lawrence “he's a connoisseur of a big boy.” Goss recounts getting the name for the song looking for Christmas puns on Twitter, “somebody wrote ‘put your ass in Christmass’ and I just thought that was the most hilarious thing I had ever read.”
Sassy Santa, the third track of the EP, with “a Eurodance funk vibe” featuring Benjamin Koll. “I have to get Benjamin Koll on this record… he's so fun and he's so joyous and he makes me smile so much and he looks like Santa and he's like fun and sexy.” In some of the promotional photos by Dusti Cunningham, Koll (dressed as Santa) and Goss (sitting on Koll’s lap) are seen sharing Goss’ wish list for Christmas.
The final track, Ho Ho Homo, follows a more traditional Christmas ballad than the other songs, which Goss said is a sequel to a song he wrote in 2017 called Gay Christmas “it is more about the joy that I feel and embracing my authentic self and for knowing that I'm sitting on the margins of what society expects me to be.” Goss expressed that he loved the found family that he forged throughout his life that has made Christmas time a lot more joyous for him.
The EP has a variety of different sounds and moods to it and has a sampling of music choices to satisfy a wide audience. “They are all so unique and they all match a different mood, so if I'm feeling a little raunchy, then I want to listen to Put That Ass in Christmass, if I'm feeling sentimental, I want to listen to Ho Ho Homo, if I'm feeling I'm feeling just sexy I want to listen to Santa Slay, and if I'm feeling like a little boisterous like Tigger – you know from Winnie the Pooh – I want to listen to Sassy Santa.”
Christmas music typically doesn’t resonate with Goss since he would rather have music he can listen to any time of the year, not just for a month. He told Options that his EP, “it's not primarily about Christmas, it's primarily about crafting a really fun song and telling a really good story.”
Parts of the album, specifically the song Ho Ho Homo, highlight the joy of breaking free from the feeling of isolation Queer people face during the holidays around family. Goss explained that his family life wasn’t bad, or good, but felt like “sailing on a smooth ocean and then rogue waves come through… everything feels fine and everything feels good but there's kind of feeling about my Queerness or the path that I've chosen in my life that are bubbling under the surface with familial members… and I think that's natural.”
Goss mentioned having his sexual awakening after his teen years, having his first date at 23, “My parents had a really horrible divorce that scarred me deeply… I remember thinking to myself, I'm never going to go on a date and I'm never going to be with anybody because I don't want to take the risk of hurting somebody as deeply as I'm being hurt in this moment.”
As Goss grew up, he stayed away from the dating scene until, “I fell in love with one of my classmates and it was kind of like this accidental thing, and he was an older gentleman, he was 44, and he was a statistician, and he was awkward and introverted, and shy and silly… and apparently, that's all of the things that I'm into.” Now Goss is happily married to a man who he recently celebrated 17 years of dating with.
“I'm married to a bear and we've been together for 17 years and so I see how the world treats him,” Goss comments on witnessing the fatphobia his husband has faced but has an optimistic view on how we see beauty, “We're very grateful to be in a community that bear community that really embraces big guys or people that don't particularly fit the mold… Everybody I look at I see as beautiful… I see the most beautiful parts of everybody I see.”