Halloween was my favorite holiday for many years.
Not sure when my love of Halloween started. It may have been the first year that I dressed up as a woman.
I went out to a few parties, in drag, with my girlfriend at the time. I was terrified when we left the house. But I got more attention from women on that night than I had in my entire life previous.
My whole life I had been trained that allowing any femininity to penetrate my macho-ness would be disastrous to my attractiveness and social standing.
But the opposite happened. Maybe it was because my drag choice was seen as a move of confidence. Maybe it was a way that women could dabble in bisexuality without getting their fists wet. All I know is that the results were so dramatic that I dressed up drag the next 4 years when it came time for Halloween.
I briefly dabbled in dressing in drag non-Halloween events, but discovered there is a huge chasm in people’s minds between “feminine-embracing Halloween costume” & “Sexually deviant cross-dressing.” What a difference a few days makes.
So when I see women interpret Halloween as “Let Out Your Inner Slut” Day, I totally get it. It is quite a gift to be able to experiment with an identity without social consequences. You get all the flirtatious attention with none of the reputation tarnish.
I’m always fascinated by the choices people make for their costumes. I’m not talking about ideas that are motivated by ease of assembly, current events, or attempts at humor. I’m referring to the fantasy roles that people embrace for that one special night.
We are given permission to color outside the lines of our socialized identity for one night. We can let our freak flag fly – and have the safety net of Halloween.
It’s the one night when cleavage is acceptable from Mrs. Cleaver.
Role play comes out of the closet. I even heard someone on Twitter refer to it as “Hetrosexual Pride Day.”
While I was experimenting with dressing in drag, I was able to avoid ridicule and physical harm. There *was* one drunk Navy guy who, after mistaking me for an actual woman, toyed with the idea of pummeling me. He wanted to confirm his non-faggot-ness in front of his friends. But in the context of a costume party, it was a non issue. Again, the Halloween safety net protected us both from judgment.
With the ability to be whatever you want, I’m always puzzled by the desire to be grotesque.
Being a sexy nurse/maid/cat makes sense. Being a Jedi/fireman/childhood hero makes sense.
But being an eyeball-dripping, flesh-hanging, blood spewing atrocity?
Perhaps it is my vanity speaking, but I can’t imagine EVER wanting people to be disgusted by me when I approach. Especially when I am given a free pass to dress up as anything!
This touches on something much larger.
I’m baffled by the Horror genre, in general. In a world filled with atrocities, my instinct is to go AWAY from horror whenever I am given a choice.
Towards beauty. Towards smiles. Towards Joy.
So If I am choosing between a sexy unicorn costume or a zombie, that’s a no brainer. (Or I should say, “no BRAIIIIIIIIIIINS-er.”)
To be fair, I recognize that the original Samhain intention was NOT an excuse to wear French Maid outfits. And for people who embrace the macabre work of warding off evil spirits, I salute your traditionalism. Thanks for all your efforts. (You don’t see much “warding” these days.)
But for me, Halloween was always about letting out hidden parts of myself. And that is why it no longer holds the same importance that it once did. There was a time when excuses to boldly express myself were precious and rare. But I rarely feel inhibited any longer.
There is no pressure cooker of expression building up during the year to explode in the form of a Chippendales costume or shirtless cave man.
When I think about “whose shoes would I want to walk in for a night?” The answer isn’t a cop, a woman, or even a slutty cat. The answer is, “Mine.”
My daily persona and my fantasy persona have, for the most part, merged.
It’s why I stop people at Burning Man or elsewhere whenever they say to me, “Nice costume!” Even though it may seem like a minor point, I feel the need to correct them.
“Actually, this is an ‘outfit,’ not a ‘costume.’ A costume implies that I am pretending to be someone I am not. But an outfit is simply an expression of who I am.”
And it is from that place that I have rekindled my love of Halloween. It is no longer a needed break from the oppression of the status quo. Now it’s just a good excuse to role-play in public, encourage those who are ill-at-ease with raw expression, and marvel at the endless ways a non-erotic costume idea can be made sexy.
Now, has anyone seen my fake lashes!?
Oct 30, 2010