For the Halloween when I was six, I was a brontosaurus.
For those who were not obsessed with dinosaurs as children, a brontosaurus was a humongous, hulking herbivore, as big as a several school buses, with a long neck and tail. I was a considerably scaled down version of this pre-historic sauropod, but I thought I was spectacular nonetheless. My mom made my costume. It was dark green, with a little hood that slipped up over my head to give the illusion of the back of a dinosaur’s skull, little green feeties and a long tail sewn on that dragged out behind me, stuffed full of cotton balls to make it stiff.
All the other girls were princesses or witches or pink Power Rangers, but I didn’t take any mind of that. I was a flipping dinosaur. As far as I was concerned, I was wicked awesome. I stomped around and roared and chased the other kids, feeling rather pleased with my prehistoric coolness.
Naturally, as a child, I adored Halloween — there were parties and costumes and naturally, candy. I would look at the calendar, starting at the end of September or the beginning of October and impatiently count down the days until the happy occasion when I could tromp around, dressed as a hobo or a scarecrow or a cat or a brontosaurus and collect candy as was the due of all children as a reward for their juvenile cuteness.
Likewise, I loved Christmas and to a lesser extent Easter, and my birthday, in the same way that all children do, whether destined to be queer or straight. And, as all children do, I grew older, and as I grew older the sense of excitement and wonder that came with these special holidays gradually drained away, a little bit more each year, until they ceased to be more than mere spots of colour on the otherwise grey strip of life.
Except for Halloween or as I like to call it, Queermas.
Halloween, when you’re queer, is a holiday that never quite loses its magic. Whether you’re in the closet, coming out of the closet, or the only thing in your closet is your shoes (Birkenstocks, flat-soled dress-shoes or three-inch scarlet pumps, whichever floats your boat) Halloween is a special, quasi-adult event.
Halloween is the perfect queer holiday. We may not get presents, and we’re too old for trick-or-treating (well, no one is ever really too old for trick-or-treating, are they? Or at least not too old for candy) but Halloween is about more than that.
In a lot of ways, it’s quite similar to the old Greek festival (and those Greeks practically wrote the book on being queer, let us not forget) for Dionysus, the god of wine. The Greeks, during this festival, would dress in costumes and masks and generally have a wild, drunken and generally pleasant party lasting for several days, watching plays and partaking of various forms of entertainment. The idea was that, by putting on a mask, you got to transcend yourself, be anyone you could be, anything you wanted to be — the mask became you. Halloween is much the same concept; on Halloween, it doesn’t matter what or who you are during the daytime, or what prejudices you face or how you do and do not have to act, because no one is certain of who anyone is, behind the mask, beneath the tiara, inside the donkey costume.
Queers live Halloween every day: every theatrical, stagey, camp, over-the-top, sensuous element of it. And it’s on Halloween that everyone drinks from our cup, rather than the other way around.
For one night of the year, you can be anything, anything you can dream of, the knight who saves the princess or prince or the heroine who gets the girl(s). You can dress in drag, you can dress in rags, you can be the beggar, the thief, the king or absolutely anyone in between. You can be a brontosaurus.
Halloween is a delicious, decadent, feast for the senses. Halloween is a day when taboos are stripped, black kinky boots are donned and make-up is lavishly applied regardless or your gender.
This Halloween is my first one in a queer-friendly environment and the prospect fills me with tingles of sexually liberated joy. Needless to say, I probably won’t be going as a big, green, friendly dinosaur, but I will be going. Halloween, as I have been told by more than one person on more than one occasion, is gay Christmas, and who would ever miss Christmas? Personally, I vote we drop the whole semi-Pagan ruse, take the day for ourselves once and for all and just start calling it what it is: Queermas.