Tomorrow kids will be knocking on your door, and most of the adults will be out to their own parties, dressed in a variety of different costumes from the sexy nurse, to Lumber-Jack Skellington (I'm disappointed the internet doesn't have a picture for that one).â
Halloween is upon us and conveniently, today is also the last day of LGBT+ history month, so in this blog, we'd like to take the time to reflect on the history of Halloween in the LGBT+ community and why this holiday's continued keeping is so important!
First, it should be noted:
âHalloween started out as a religious holiday and make no bones about it, it's still sacred for many. Samhain (pronounced Sowwin) was the ancient Celtic religious holiday Halloween is currently known for. Before it's "transition" and absorption within Christian and eventually corporate-culture, it was joined with a variety of other holidays around the fall by mostly northern-European people.
The Italian people still celebrate Borgo a Mozzano throughout the month of October which looks more like Halloween than Samhain did and is the very likely "usurper."
This religious origin to Halloween does need to be respected, as do those who consider tomorrow night holy. But this holiday is nothing like its previous form. It's now considered "#GayChristmas."
Halloween's Drag History
In the 1950s-70s when being gay was outlawed, this allowed a kind of "acceptance" to bloom in gay bars and counter-cultural gathering places for the evening.
Starting on the major coasts of the United States, many venues featured dress-up parties for the adults. For the closeted, invisible, gay clubs throughout the cities of San-Francisco, the out-and-proud, bold-and-beautiful drag scene which was often viewed as "a vaudeville stage show" got to shine proudly.
This provided people a space. A space to "negotiate" with the world around them and have a day where they could play with their genders and sexuality and have no recourse.
This grew only more important in the 80's as the AIDS epidemic swept through.
Halloween shifted at that time, from a holiday to play with your identity without stress, to a mardi-gras of sorts. A day to cut loose, to be free, and to experience one's LGBT+ identity but also a day to remember the people who had been lost. The people "who aren't at this party."
From that point forward, Halloween became synonymous with permission to be unabashedly gay. Permission to be trans. Permission to break the hard-and-fast societal rule loud and clear.
Halloween's Global Popularization
Moving into the late 80's and early 90s, American cultural festivities swept the nation and ran across seas. According to CNN, the British grocery store chain, Tesco's sales of pumpkins in 2005, was tripled by 2010, almost entirely because of British people picking up what was mostly a forgotten holiday until families saw Hocus Pocus and Nightmare Before Christmas.
Popular culture - originally gay culture - created a holiday that adults could give their children. It was fun, and most of all - it was consumable. It could sell. Now the holiday is celebrated worldwide in Japan, the UK, the middle east, Africa, everywhere.
LGBTQ+ people the world over now "reap" the same benefits San Francisco did - identity negotiation.
What Halloween Means for Minorities
Going to a party at a conservative friend's home "looking like a Dyke" is dangerous. For teenagers, cross-dressing or using makeup is reserved for females, and assuming identities beyond that of traditional society is so frowned upon that we require organizations to provide support under the radar, half-way houses and homeless shelters when it goes wrong, and suicide-lifelines specifically for those people who do not conform.
But on Halloween, you're most conservative of the conservative friends are okay with it all. You can go out in public "in drag" you can go out with barely any clothes on at all, you can party and grind on anyone you want, and you have somewhat of a "pass." It's Halloween and therefore expected that you'll assume the identity of someone they believe you're not.
To the LGBTQ+ community, Halloween is a sacred holiday because it observes the hidden identities we want to "try on" alongside our silly costume. We want to be the sexy ass-less chaps cowboy or the naughty nurse - we're allowed.
âAnd that....is freeing.
But if you can't participate
You can also do it online, safely, without your parents knowing.
Come visit our peer support group, "bittersweet" tonight (10/30/18) to discuss how!
If you don't qualify or were late to the party, no worries!