77-year-old Linda Warren, also known as Queer Santa. (Facebook/ The Center on Colfax)
“Queer Santa”, a 77-year-old lesbian named Linda Warren, is giving “holigay” gifts to LGBT+ kids who have been rejected by their families.
This holiday season, Warren is handing out gifts for the 22nd year as part of her “holigay” celebration at The Center on Colfax, an LGBT+ youth centre in Denver, Colorado.
Her gift-giving mission will look a little different this year, as she is donning a mask and face shield to go with her red suit. Cars will drive past to pick up the gifts, in place of the party she usually throws for local queer youth.
Throughout the year, Warren asks for donations from as many people as possible to buy the presents, which kids are able to sign up for, and volunteers wrap them before they are given out.
Warren told Colorado Matters that she started the tradition because of her own experience with being rejected by her family because of her sexuality.
“Back when I was coming up, you weren’t accepted at all,” she said.
“If anyone found out you were gay, you wouldn’t have any friends hardly. My family did find out I was gay after I was grown and they disowned me.
“So it’s very important to me, to make sure that all children are taken care of and that we can do anything that we can.”
She added: “Twenty-two years ago… I told the people at The Center that I would do this, but that I did not want anyone turned down. They did not have to be gay.
“It was just if they were not going to get a present because they had been put out of their home, I wanted to make sure that they were taken care of.”
Warren originally felt uncomfortable with the title of “Queer Santa”, given to her by the kids, because of the time she grew up in.
She said: “The word ‘queer’ was used to make fun of us when I was growing up.
“But I had to finally realise that the children of this day in time have taken that word back, and they will not let people make fun of us by using queer. So, it took me awhile to get used to being ‘Queer Santa,’ but I did.
“I was like, ‘Oh God, please don’t call me that.’ But then I was like, ‘It’s alright, it’s theirs. So, we will do it.’ And so now I just refer to myself as Queer Santa.”