Get wicked!

pinheadHear ye! Hear ye! Lads and lasses, ladies and gents, men lovers, women lovers, bi lovers, tranny lovers, leather lovers, fetish lovers and all you lovers of adult sex and relationships in all their glorious forms: Halloween is our holiday, our holy night, the night for everyone to celebrate queerness. Every culture tangles with ghosts in one way or another, and most of the world’s peoples dedicate rites and holidays to venerating or combatting demons. On this eve we queer folk, demonized by the forces of darkness the rest of the year, receive our just adoration. Everyone, even our straight sisters and brothers, agrees on this night to be queer, which is not just to be gay, it’s to be different.

But beware – bashers also take to the streets this night. We are not totally free to be ourselves, if that means to be careless. If our perceived otherness diminishes on this night, our perceived vulnerability increases. We prance in the spotlight. Nearly everyone gawks and points fingers at us, laughs uproariously with us, dances among us, swings on our arms and takes part in our sexy public frolicks, but unnatural enemies lurk in the crowds. Some truly ugly monsters may shadow us happy witches and freaks, and they may want to see real blood, our blood. We know this, because we’ve experienced it before. We’ve seen the packs of maurauding thugs sweep through the Castro on Halloween, wielding sticks and other objects to inflict real wounds. We’ve heard ourselves demonized on this night, not in fun but in all seriousness, and we’ve had to learn to defend ourselves. We’ve erected barriers, put police and crowd monitors in place, prohibited potentially harmful props from being carried about, and agreed to blow whistles at the first sign of trouble. Halloween is scary.


So let us sally forth into the night, boldly wicked in our regalia, take part in this parade of the damned, and drink champagne as blood. Let us remember that this rite we’re taking part in evolved out of ancient agrarian rituals, and that our open queerness is a slap in the face at those who long tried, with tragic effect over centuries, to wipe out our kind. Our persecutors may roam yet among us, but most know better than to attack us, because we are strong in numbers, and we know how to fight back.

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This article originally appeared in print in the Bay Area Reporter, October 23, 1999.