Halloween is my favorite holiday; it’s also “America’s gay holiday,” according to a HuffPo piece about homos’ “fellow-feeling” about all Hallow’s Eve:
The author of this piece seizes specifically upon the camp-like qualities of Halloween; if donning a costume as a way of “unmasking” or releasing the “queer” or deviant within, then Halloween is nothing but an annual, day-long practice on how to be gay…campy-gay, to be specific. In the vein of Susan Sontag’s “On Camp,” it’s pleasure minus utility; camp as performative, visual irony, “sees everything in quotation marks,” whereby all “identities” are “roles” that we play.
Camp, as David Halperin explains in his phenomenal How To Be Gay (Harvard UP 2012), is a style specific to a gay male ethos, or aesthetic, which is why Halloween feels extremely “gay” to me—male gay and not the generalized appellation “gay” that is applied to reference the LGBT community at large. My mind jumps to images of all my faggy gay male friends in their Halloween costumes that were posted on Facebook this weekend: my friend Patrick dressed as Wonder Woman, my “little brother” Thai dressed as Chun-Li from Street Fighter. All fabulous, but not my Halloween.
My question is whether there is an ethos or a practice that lends to an understanding of Halloween as a “lesbian” holiday. Beyond witches, beyond Willow and Tara (who are evidence enough of the lesbionic qualities of witches), what about Halloween can be read as lesbian? I’ve discussed the whole notion of reading “as a lesbian” in a previous Pop Theory post; appropriating Halperin’s inquiry and his observation that gay can be understood as a “mode of perception, an attitude, an ethos: in short, it is a practice,” I want to think about if and how Halloween evinces a kind of lesbian feeling, an ethos, an aesthetic?”
Photo by Grace Chu
Honestly, I’m not sure how to proceed with this question, as my Halloweens are generally ill-spent (this one, for instance, will consist of me teaching four undergrad courses at two different universities), but, when “well-spent,” I’m usually watching Halloween cartoons (Garfield’s Halloween Special is the BEST!) and eating candy. That’s how I prefer it—so perhaps I’m not the best (as in most knowing or most authoritative) person to speak about how Halloween might be lesbian or have a lesbionic sensibility about it. And, let’s face it, there are a lot things about Halloween that are a far cry from “lesbian”: dressing-up, apple “bobbing” (or the associated game of kneeling and trying to bite an apple that is dangling from a string), and just the whole “trick-or-treating” enterprise in general seems to reek of the peen—that is, it seems REALLY GAY…. And any keyword search in Google for “halloween” and “lesbian” and/or sapphic is a quick route to Pornville.
So, this time, readers, I’m going to leave this answer entirely up to you. What do you think? Are there any practices or aspects of Halloween that seem lesbionic to you?