LGBTQ INFORMATION NETWORK │ RAINBOW OF RESOURCES

HALLOWEEN

 

Advocate: Reason Why Queer Folks Love Halloween
Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Queer History of Halloween

Monster by Lady Gaga

Modern Fall Gay Wedding

Advocate: Queer Friendly Halloween Films

Gays With Kids: Pumpkin Patch Families

LGBTQ Perspective: History of Halloween

Quinn's Anatomy: Lesbian Halloween Costumes

Haunted by Beyonce

 

 

Halloween Greetings
 

Happy Halloween! We wish you well on this October Holiday! With the Autumn Season underway, and Fall Festivals all around, this haunted jubilee is a favorite among many, especially LGBTQ folks! It is sometimes referred to as "Gay Christmas."


Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, hayrides, bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

 

Halloween or "All Hallows Evening" is a yearly celebration observed on October 31. It is the time of year dedicated to remembering the dead.

Is Halloween a magical fire festival in observance of the dimming sun or is it a mystical celebration of departed saints? The word "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening." Mexico's version of Halloween is the Day of the Dead (Días de los Muertos). Halloween's connection with All Saint's Day or All Soul's Day has mostly fallen on the wayside in favor of modern secular traditions.

Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

Halloween is campy and flamboyant. It's irreverent and fun. It's all about dressing up and wearing outrageous costumes and fabulous disguises. And, for some reason, Halloween is a very popular holiday among many LGBTQ people.

 

Freakshow by Britney Spears

LGBTQ Nation: Gay Culture and Popularity of Halloween
San Francisco: Early Gay Halloween
Lambda Literary: LGBTQ Horror Stories

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Opening Song and Movie Intro

Spooky Songs for Your Hay Halloween Party

Halloween Pride Parade

Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett

Pop Trigger: Lesbian Halloween Costumes

Pretend We're Dead by L7

Ariana and Hannah: Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

 

 

Halloween: National LGBTQ Holiday

Here's why Halloween is basically a national LGBTQ holiday. Give me your fearsome ghouls and your flaming gays, your slutty zombies and your zany queens, for it is time for Halloween.

Halloween isn’t just a holiday for LGBTQ people, it’s an institution. But why? Sure, there are the obvious parallels. Many queer and trans kids grew up having to wear a mask, and to many of us, every day was Halloween until we opened those closet doors. We are highly trained at hiding our true selves, so the celebration of costume and disguise is a natural marriage for us. But for today’s generation, where “queer” is hardly the horrifying pronunciation that it once was, this explanation may no longer carry much weight.

Still, many LGBTQ folks delight in the chance to express themselves in ways that society usually deems lewd, weird, or inappropriate. This holiday is one that praises all the frights and fetishes that we are told to cover up. But then again, that is what Pride (not to mention leather festivals like San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair) is all about. The queer community is itself a celebration of sexual liberation, so for many, Halloween is just another Saturday night at the club.

 



The main reason Halloween is a national LGBTQ holiday is the fact that being queer or trans is an extension of expressing who you want to be, in spite of who fears it. Regardless of how liberal the community you live in may be, the global reality is that being any part of the LGBTQ community is still considered a perversion, a subversion, and even an abomination. Some of us may rarely have to address this reality, living in progressive hubs where queer is practically the norm. Others know all too well that a disturbingly large number of people in the US still think our “lifestyle” is to blame for all that’s wrong with the world.


Living in Dallas, Texas, I easily forget how odd I am to some people simply because I am gay. And for a minute here and there, I might even convince myself that my life, my marriage, and my sex life are now just part of the boring norm. But if I travel even a few miles outside of my bubble, the sometimes-painful realization that I am still considered an “other” swiftly sinks in and reminds me of my alternative position in society.

And that’s a good thing. Being queer isn’t a fetish. But for many, it is a fantasy. For those who are out, facing the fear of exploring our fantasies, which in turn become reality, can almost be second nature. When Halloween comes around, many of us on the LGBTQ spectrum aren’t afraid to revel in our proclivities, whether they are ghoulish, garish, or slutty as hell, because in the eyes of the judgmental peanut gallery, we already represent those things every day.

 

But Halloween is the one time of year when everyone is allowed to be whoever they wants to be. Even boring straight cisgender folks go queer for a night and walk on the wild side. Those who feel they have to be in a closet the rest of the time can bust out in all their glory on Halloween. And anyone questioning their current identity has the chance to try another out in public without fear of reprisal. When dawn breaks, some of those folks will have to turn back into pumpkins while we fairy godmothers get to keep being fabulous.

But at some point in a queer person’s life comes the realization that we will always be a freak to some. Regardless of how good we are at donning costumes, eventually we figure out changing ourselves into someone else is impossible, so we might as well relish in our freakdom and celebrate Halloween as the one time of year onlookers creep closer to our side of the line. (If we show those ghouls a good time, you never know who might just stay in gay town permanently.) So throw on those hooker heels and paint those faces a fright, because soon, very soon, it will be Halloween night!

[Source: Tyler Curry, Advocate Magazine, Oct 2019]

 

Queer and Gender Variant Perspective: History of Halloween

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Queer History of Halloween

Modern Fall Gay Wedding

Freakshow by Britney Spears

Advocate: Queer Friendly Halloween Films

Gays With Kids: Pumpkin Patch Families

Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo

LGBTQ Perspective: History of Halloween

Quinn's Anatomy: Lesbian Halloween Costumes

We Sink by Chvrches

 

 

Halloween Films for LGBTQ Folks

 

Bride of Frankenstein | Director James Whale (1935)
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane | Bette Davis, Joan Crawford (1962)
The Haunting | Claire Bloom, Julie Harris (1963)
Rocky Horror Picture Show | Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick (1975)
Carrie | Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie (1976)

Cat People | Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, Annette O'Toole, Ruby Dee (1982)
Nighmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge | Robert Englund (1985)

Lost Boys | Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland (1987)
Beetlejuice | Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton (1988)
Edward Scissorhands | Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder (1990)
Addams Family | Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, Raul Julia (1991)
Addams Family Values | Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, Raul Julia (1993)

Nightmare Before Christmas | Animated: Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Reubens (1993)
Hocus Pocus | Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy (1993)
Interview With the Vampire | Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt (1994)
Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street | Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter (2007)
ParaNorman | Animated: Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein, John Goodman (2012)

Hotel Transylvania | Animated: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, CeeLo Green (2012)

 

 

 

Have a Safe Halloween

High Risk..

Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating with shared candy bowls

Trunk or treating events

Crowded indoor costume parties

Medium Risk..

No-touch trick-or-treating (using a candy chute)

Goodie bags set out for pick-up

Reverse trick-or-treating

Outdoor, personal distanced costume parade

Outdoor, personal distanced movie night

Outdoor, personal distanced scary storytelling (around campfire)

Low Risk..

Pumpkin carving at home with your partner (or family)

Outdoor, personal distanced pumpkin carving with friends

Decorating at home

Outdoor scavenger hunt in the neighborhood

Virtual costume contest

Movie night at home with your partner (or family)

 

 
 

Advocate: Reason Why Queer Folks Love Halloween
Lambda Literary: LGBTQ Horror Stories

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Ariana and Hannah: Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Queer History of Halloween

Monster by Lady Gaga

Advocate: Queer Friendly Halloween Films

LGBTQ Perspective: History of Halloween

Quinn's Anatomy: Lesbian Halloween Costumes

Haunted by Beyonce

 

Gay Culture and the Popularity of Halloween

In the words of the lesbian poet and scholar Judy Grahn, Halloween is “the great gay holiday.” The holiday’s tradition of lavish costumed theatricality attracts almost everyone, but especially lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer revelers.

Back in the day, Halloween, the night before All Hallows Day (All Saints Day), was linked to the ancient Celtic festival “Samhain” in the British Isles, meaning “summer’s end.” And because the celebration is associated with mystery, magic, superstition, witches and ghost, the festivity, not surprisingly, was limited in colonial New England because of its Puritanical belief system. But today it’s an LGBTQ extravaganza that rivals Pride festivals.

Long before June officially became Gay Pride Month, and October “Coming Out Month” for the LGBTQ community, Halloween was unofficially our yearly celebrated “holiday,” dating as far back at the 1970s when it was a massive annual street party in San Francisco’s Castro district.

By the 1980s, gay enclaves like Key West, West Hollywood, and Greenwich Village were holding their annual Halloween street parties. And the parades the night of Halloween did and still do draw straights and gay spectators out to watch. Gay cultural influence on Halloween has become such an unstoppable phenomenon here and abroad that anthropologist Jerry Kugelmass of University of Florida published a book in 1994 on the new trend, titled Masked Culture, describing Halloween as an emerging gay “high holiday.”

 



“The ’masked culture’ first developed by the gays of San Francisco has reached across the lines of orientation, and now jumped across the boundaries between nations and languages. It’s not just a party. It’s an ideal of personal emancipation, self-expression and self-fulfillment. It is an ideal that loses none of its power when it takes the form of a sexy nurse’s outfit,” CNN contributor David Frum wrote in an article about Halloween and the gay culture.

Nicholas Rogers, author of Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, points out that while Halloween is enjoyed by everyone, “it has been the gay community that has most flamboyantly exploited Halloween’s potential as a transgressive festival, as one that operates outside or on the margins of orthodox time, space, and hierarchy. Indeed, it is the gay community that has been arguably most responsible for Halloween’s adult rejuvenation.”

Halloween allows many LGBTQ Americans at least one night annually to be safely being out and “unmasked” while remaining closeted. The community revels the entire night like there is no tomorrow, and for many there isn’t. Like its pagan roots, Halloween provided an outlet for us cross-dressing and gender-bending LGBTQ outsiders who are ostracized by mainstream society.

As Halloween flourishes as a gay cultural phenomenon, so too flourished a backlash by the fundamentalist Christians with their “Hell Houses.” And these Christians targeted our children. Hell Houses were a contemporary form of both anti-gay bullying and witch-hunting. Created in the late 1970s by deceased fundamentalist pastor, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, they were religious alternatives to traditional haunted houses. They were tours given by evangelical churches across the country design to scare and bully people away from myriad sins. And one of those sins is homosexuality. While the horror show has mostly died out, it still appears occasionally in far-right conservative churches like a vampire rising from the dead.

 

 
 

In 2006 the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) put out a report titled “Homophobia at Hell House: Literally Demonizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth” explaining how hell houses specifically targeted youth. “Instead of spooking youth with ghosts and monsters, Hell House tour guides direct them through rooms where violent scenes of damnation for a variety of ’sins’ are performed, including scenes where a teenage lesbian is brought to hell after committing suicide and a gay man dying of AIDS is taunted by a demon who screams that the man will be separated from God forever in hell,” the NGLTF stated.

A study published in the Journal of Psychology stated that a strong belief in Satan is directly related to intolerance of LGBTQ people. Religious leaders who supported Hell Houses believed that by scaring LGBTQ youth into “heterosexual” behavior they are saving their souls. However, the message that “homosexuals” are going to hell can have a deleterious impact on our youth.

But with Halloween flourishing as a gay cultural phenomenon our children, too, can joyfully go door-to-door trick-or-treating. Our influence on culture is being acknowledged and celebrated more as we come out. As Kwanzaa is a black holiday, and St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday, maybe someday soon Halloween will be officially acknowledged as a gay holiday.

[Source: Rev. Irene Monroe, LGBTQ Nation, Oct 2018]

 

Halloween: History, Meaning, Symbols
Modern Fall Gay Wedding

Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Gays With Kids: Pumpkin Patch Families

Kernel: Halloween Gay History
Rocky Horror Picture Show: Sweet Transvestite

Halloween Songs From the 1990s

Vice: Best Little Hell House in Texas

Destroy Everything You Touch by Ladytron

Pop Trigger: Lesbian Halloween Costumes

Ariana and Hannah: Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

 


 

Halloween Tunes for LGBTQ Folks

 

Monster by Lady Gaga
Thriller by Michael Jackson

Pretend We're Dead by L7
Freakshow by Britney Spears
Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde
Disturbia by Rihanna

Jump in the Line by Harry Belefonte
We Sink by Chvrches
Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo

Time Warp by Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast

Feed My Frankenstein by Alice Cooper

Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Dragula by Rob Zombie

Spooky by Classics Four
Freaks Come Out at Night by Whodini

Destroy Everything You Touch by Ladytron
Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett

Cities in Dust by Siouxsie and the Banshees
Haunted by Beyonce

Mirrors by Natalia Kills

Witchy Woman by The Eagles
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by JS Bach

 

 

 

Queer Costume Ideas
 

For any would-be Halloween party-goers or trick-or-treaters who might be having difficulty coming up with an idea for their costume, here is a helpful tool. Somebody (we don't who) came up with this idea chart.  Try using your birth month and your birth day as an inspiration for your Halloween attire.  Could be fun.  Could be disturbing.

 

The adjective or modifying descriptor is represented by your birth month.  The creature or character is represented by your birth day.  Put the two together for a fabulous Halloween costume idea.

 

January - Bloody/Gorey

February - Kinky/Leather

March - Creepy/Evil

April - Sexy/Slutty

May - Futuristic/Galactic

June - Vintage/Retro

July - Scary/Horrorfying

August - Cutsie

September -Goofy/Nerdy

October - Demonic/Satanic

November - Gothic/Medieval

December - Fabulous/Drag

1 -  Zombie

2 -  Athlete

3 -  Pumpkin

4 -  Witch

5 -  Clown

6 -  Farmer

7 -  Wizard

8 -  Bunny

9 -  Angel

10 - Mummy

11 - Cat

12 - Waitress

13 - Ballerina

14 - Scientist

15 - Pirate

16 - Superhero

17 - Skeleton

18 - Troll

19 - Cheerleader

20 - Swan

 

21 - Cleopatra

22 - Vampire

23 - Nurse/Doctor

24 - Devil

25 - School Girl

26 - Prince/Princess

27 - Ghost

28 - Frankenstein

29 - Werewolf

30 - Cowboy/Cowgirl

31 - Soldier/Sailor

 

 

Queer History of Halloween
 

It’s the great gay holiday! And we’re here to tell you all about how the queers made Halloween the second most popular holiday in the States. For nearly a century, gays from all walks of life have found freedom in the masquerade of All Hallows Eve. Beneath the glow of the October night sky LGBTQ partygoers enjoyed an uncommon tolerance. We take you on that journey of evolution from Philadelphia to San Francisco to New York City. So hit that download and learn the history of our most important holiday.

Today we’re back to celebrate the BIGGEST holiday in the queer world. It is a revered and honored tradition that dates back nearly a century. It is called the “great gay holiday” by poet Judy Grahn. We hope of course that you all have laid out your stockings and makeup and hatchets and best blood soaked nightgowns. And perhaps even drawn some inspiration from our episodes this past month. Whatever your weekend plans we hope they are devilishly delicious and stupendously gay. But before you don that crown or mask, take a moment to enjoy the history of how our people made Halloween the second most popular holiday in America.

Halloween was originally a blend of the ancient Celtic tradition Samhain, and Roman holiday Feralia. Two separate cultural celebrations of the ancestors which reverenced the dead. The Romans also added the celebration of the Goddess Pomona (who represented fruits and trees) and thus we still have the various fruit aspects incorporated throughout fall and Halloween. As with practically every holiday in history, the holiday was used as a tool of unity by the Romans over the newly conquered Celts. As the centuries passed on the traditions and meanings behind the holiday evolved. By the eighth century Pope Gregory III declared November 1st All Saints Day. Which turned the October 31st celebrations of Samhain and Feralia into the newly named All Hallows Eve.

 

Freakshow by Britney Spears

LGBTQ Nation: Gay Culture and Popularity of Halloween
Lambda Literary: LGBTQ Horror Stories

Disturbia by Rihanna

San Francisco: Early Gay Halloween
Rocky Horror Picture Show: Opening Song and Movie Intro

Spooky Songs for Your Hay Halloween Party

Halloween Pride Parade

Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett

Pop Trigger: Lesbian Halloween Costumes


 

 

As time wore on, most of the Christian traditions and celebrations of Halloween began to fade turning instead into a day of mischievousness and pranks. And for that reason along with the superstition surrounding the ancient celebration, Halloween was virtually banned in the newly colonized American country. The Puritans would have none of this Celtic devil’s holiday and certainly did not want the Catholic version of the celebration. For the first 200 years of white settlers invasion of America, All Hallow’s Eve was relatively dormant. Then in the mid 1800’s America saw an uptick in Irish immigrants due to the Potato famine devastating their homeland. The deep catholic and Celtic roots of the country had made it one of the few places that still practiced All Hallows Eve. Missing their homeland and seeking comfort in their traditions Irish communities began to celebrate Halloween. The parties were a mix of European and Celtic influences. Masks were worn as part of an ancient Celt tradition of warding off ghosts. The Celts believed that spirits returned on All Hallow’s Eve to claim the souls of the living – but the masks confused the deadly spirits. During the parties cakes were passed out as part of an old English tradition. Stemming from the similar British celebration of All Souls Day; when the rich would walk through the streets passing out cakes to the poor in exchange for the prayers of the poor for the wealthy families ancestors.

The fun and extravagance of the Irish celebrations pushed the holiday into the public eye and drew the attention of their non-Irish neighbors. However, the stigma of a Satanic holiday still loomed and for some time Protestant communities remained resistant to the growing fad. But soon a national campaign to change the misguided notions of Halloween emerged and even the most rigid Christians felt obliged to fall in line. Communities sought to use the day as a way to bring others together. Instead of focusing on the death and gore that had accompanied the holiday for so long, neighborhoods were encouraged to make it a family event. And by the late 1920’s trick or treating switched from hard pranks and vandalism to children dressing up in costumes and gathering candy. As has been the case of all American history, once again the country found unity through accepting and incorporating the many traditions of a nation built upon immigrants.

 

Queer and Gender Variant Perspective: History of Halloween

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Queer History of Halloween

Freakshow by Britney Spears

Advocate: Queer Friendly Halloween Films

LGBTQ Perspective: History of Halloween

Modern Fall Gay Wedding

Quinn's Anatomy: Lesbian Halloween Costumes

We Sink by Chvrches

Gays With Kids: Pumpkin Patch Families


 

 

With a surge in costume dress ups, suddenly this odd and relatively obscure holiday jumped into the mainstream public eye. Community celebrations and costume contests began to take place which offered individuals one day a year to break a long standing law – on Halloween people could cross dress. There were several other reasons for the queer awakening that began to take place at the break of the 20th century. But the growing popularity of Halloween in America certainly helped struggling queers find their ways to one another. Of course cross-dressing even on Halloween was a hard won battle. The November 1, 1912 publication of the local Pittsburgh newspaper carried a story of several men and women who had been arrested the previous evening for cross dressing. However, just two years later authorities were so overwhelmed by the amount of opposite sex costumes that they announced they would no longer arrest cross-dressers on Halloween. Similar ordinances were put in place in towns and communities all across the United States making Halloween a uniquely freeing holiday for queer people.

Another huge queer fad sweeping the country at this time were the drag balls of the 20’s and 30’s. Finnie’s Balls, as they were known, originated in the basement of a Michigan Avenue Nightclub by a black queer Chicagoan named Alfred Finnie. Finnie hosted his first Drag Ball in 1935 and by the end of the decade they were all the rage in the world of underground entertainment. Within 10 more years male drag performances in mainstream nightclubs began to surface all over the U.S. However, most performers were straight, white men who hijacked drag and used it as a means to mock women rather than as the gender defying art it is truly meant to be. Despite this, costumes and cross dressing were becoming more popular and accepted in average day society. Every would be okay as long as the drag/costumes stayed in their place, which meant to stay off the public streets and out of the public eye. Unless it was Halloween, then all bets were off.

 

As blogger Donald Eckert once stated, “There was still a lot of police harassment in the 1970s and wearing ‘drag’ in public was sometimes used as grounds for arrest. So, Halloween was the only day of the year that it was ‘safe’ for a man to go out in public wearing a dress, or at least this was the accepted ‘wisdom.”

 

Halloween: History, Meaning, Symbols
Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Kernel: Halloween Gay History
Lambda Literary: LGBTQ Horror Stories

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Sweet Transvestite

Halloween Songs From the 1990s

Vice: Best Little Hell House in Texas

Gays With Kids: Pumpkin Patch Families

Destroy Everything You Touch by Ladytron

Pop Trigger: Lesbian Halloween Costumes


 

Throughout the Lavender scare of the 1950’s and into the tumultuous 1960’s queer Halloween parties continued to thrive and evolve in their lavish costumes and wild parties. One of the biggest queer celebrations took part (not surprisingly) in San Francisco. The roots of the Polk street parties can be traced all the way back to 1948 when a local merchant kicked off a costume party. In all honesty, the contest was really meant for children but within just a few years the gays had taken over the scene. By 1950 people knew the Polk street costume celebration was a queer party. And though the celebration could not be advertised as a gay Halloween gathering, according to biographer and historian Randy Shilts (whose most notable work was the book And The Band Played On) one police chief told the queer organizers “This is your night, you run it”. Which was said by the chief more as a surrender to the restrictions placed on police by Halloween ordinances rather than any form of acceptance or tolerance. It was often noted that right at the stroke of midnight officers would come out in full force to arrest anyone still cross dressed or considered any type of threat. This is also where the use of masks came heavily into play, as those who were able to elude police capture could feel safe that the officers had no idea what their perp looked like.

Some have also stated that this is where the extreme looks of Drag evolved. In Halloween: A History of America’s Darkest Holiday, author David J. Skal wrote, “A distinctly over-the-top drag aesthetic evolved. Since travesty drag didn’t fool anybody, it couldn’t be considered a legitimate attempt at identity fraud.” Meaning that officers couldn’t further charge victims they did arrest as attempting to defraud people. A common added charge to drag queens and transgender women. Of course, another reason for the masks and makeup was general safety from being outed. Whether by a scorned one night party fling or by a reporter who had managed to sneak into the party. Naturally the Halloween celebration was quite large and security could not be held as tightly as it was in most queer spaces of the time. Even with local restrictions temporarily lifted, patrons still put themselves at risk if they were exposed for being queer.

 



For nearly 30 years, despite the dangers and the multiple laws against gay people fraternizing, gathering, or simply existing, the party on Polk street raged every year. But residents were becoming frustrated and angered by the increasing boldness of the gay party goers. With the Stonewall Riots, the Compton Cafeteria upset, and open Pride marches happening around the country, by the 1970’s the Polk Street Halloween party had turned into an open defiance of the city’s homophobia and abuse. And in 1976 things came to a head with California’s repeal of the sodomy laws. Queer partygoers took this to mean that they were now free to express themselves and Polk streets 1976 Halloween Parade was packed full of every assortment of the LGBTQ alphabet. But this would be it’s final hoorah as Police raided the event, setting off tear gas, disbursing the crowd and arresting several members.

Resilient as ever, leaders in the community such as Jose Julio Sarria and Harvey Milk began to organize events on the budding queer scene of Castro street just a few blocks away. In 1979, almost one year after Milk’s assassination, Castro street was bursting with queer people wishing to celebrate what Harvey had worked so hard to accomplish. And in 1980 records show over 30,000 people at the Castro Street Parade and night time events. On the opposite side of the country another gay Halloween party had erupted into a massive event. Starting in 1974, the Greenwich Village Halloween Pride Parade had grown from a few hundred people to over 200,000 in just 5 years. In fact, while the Pride Marches of June were somber, political demonstrations. The typical pride celebrations we enjoy today are rooted in the Halloween parades of the 1980’s. The Villages celebration soon inspired similar Halloween parades in other parts of the country as well. And again, it was the a nature of Halloween that allowed straight and cisgender people to put down their defenses for the night and enjoy queer art and expression.

Over the next 20 years the gays dominated Halloween. As acceptance of the queer community grew, more heterosexual people became involved in the Halloween celebrations. So much so that by 1995 the Castro Halloween Parade had grown to half a million people. Prompting the San Jose Mercury News to report: “It simply got too big for its britches, although not all partygoers have bothered to wear them. Part of the event’s appeal has been its disdain for good taste and conventional modesty: The only dress code has been that imposed by the chilly night air.” Unfortunately, along with the growth in attendance came an increase in violence and vandalism. Some brought on by the partygoers and some brought on by homophobes looking for a “fag” to chase. By 2007 the Castro Street Halloween Parade had closed down as the city paid thousands of dollars to advertise the dangers of the parade and more than 500 police officers patrolled the streets.

 

 

However, the impact of queer culture on Halloween could not be erased. Today Halloween is known as the gay Christmas much to the ire of anti-queer activists. It is not surprising that some extremist right wing groups despise Halloween, claiming it is due to its Satanic roots. When in reality their hatred of the queer community no doubt spurts these views. Individuals such as the former Jerry Falwell who instituted the anti-Halloween tradition of Hell Houses. Meant as an evangelical alternative to Haunted Houses and queer Pride Parades, the Hell Houses take Christians on a journey of terror. As actors play out exactly how sinners will pay for their sins in Hell. For example, the abortion room shows a botched abortion where super market meat is used to depict fetal tissue and blood squirts out of the mother’s vagina. Another is the pre-marital sex room which shows a prom queen becoming a prostitute after she “gave it all away” to her high school boyfriend (“Gave it all away” is an evangelical term for losing ones virginity). And we don’t have to really guess how they depict queer people. In one house a lesbian commits suicide because she cannot stand her sin and she is literally dragged to hell. In the most common Hell House experience visitors gleefully watch an actor playing a gay man die from AIDS. Needless to say this entire practice had drawn harsh criticism and even an official report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

But for all their attempts to rain on our parade Halloween continues to be one of the most popular celebrations in the country and it only continues to gain recognition as the “Great gay holiday”. So don’t let the bastards get you down, celebrate and be as queer as you can this year. And your recommended resource is an activity this year. If you live near New York check out the 46th annual Halloween Parade at 7pm on Thursday night. And if you don’t live near the Big Apple, try another local parade or even your favorite gay bar. But for those of you who want to stay in for the evening, may we recommend the book Death Makes a Holiday by David J. Skal or perhaps the documentary Hell House available on Amazon. Whatever you do, make sure it honors our queer roots.
 

[Source: Your Queer Story, Oct 2019]

 

 

Advocate: Reason Why Queer Folks Love Halloween
Modern Fall Gay Wedding

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Ariana and Hannah: Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Queer History of Halloween

Monster by Lady Gaga

Advocate: Queer Friendly Halloween Films

Freaks Come Out at Night by Whodini

LGBTQ Perspective: History of Halloween

Quinn's Anatomy: Lesbian Halloween Costumes

Pretend We're Dead by L7

 

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QUEER CAFE │ LGBTQ Information Network │ Established 2017