In my last post I discussed the links between Halloween, Queer and the Uncanny. I finished with a vox pop of religious speakers which illustrated the link that's drawn between queer people, monstrosity and violence. Obviously, "some people don't like us" isn't a particularly useful or original conclusion so in this, my slightly delayed follow up article, I'd like to suggest a few ways we can use the tropes of Halloween to repurpose our uncanniness.

My idea, simply, is to embrace it. If people call us monsters, let's be monsters. It's not a recipe for year long happiness, but neither is denying the narratives that have been written onto us. In small doses, being a horror can be healing. Let's reclaim the awfulness that's attributed to us and make it our own. We cannot escape the stories of our society, but we can engage with them, fearlessly understand them and, eventually, own them.

It would be crass of me to tell you how to deal with such a personal matter. But I will make two suggestions: Halloween and Witchcraft.

Halloween's relevance I've already explained and Witchcraft, as another bug bear of the religious right, is an obvious ally in our deviance.

The occult thinking that I grew up with (bless the Internet) taught that each of us is not one person, but many. Developing out of a bastardised psychoanalysis, the idea was that each person was actually a community of characters. The part of you that calls itself "me" is more visible, but not more important than the various "hidden" people inside you.

From this point of view, Halloween is about those especially hidden parts of yourself. It's about those creatures in us that, due to fear or loathing, we've pushed out to the basement of the psyche. The Monsters we honour at Halloween are the fragments of ourselves that we normally starve and abuse. If we are brave, we can go further than just a cursory nod in their direction. We can admit that these monsters are part of us. We can, though it seems unpleasant, learn to love the mutants we keep hidden in our sewers.

To this end, I dedicated October to my monsters. I hoped, through ongoing acts of kindness, to begin a dialogue and see what I could learn. My aim, importantly, wasn't to "cure" my monsters. I was trying honour and commune with them as they where.

I started by working out those parts of myself that I hated. I brain-stormed all my neuroses and catalogued all my worst fear about myself.After that, I grouped my various types of self loathing into categories and began to flesh out my/their personalities. I gave each a name and lit did rituals for each of them as a symbolic reconciliation.

To tie into the Halloween vibe, I began to find costumes for each of my characters. I fashioned feathered hot-pants for Leticia the drag queen show girl, a rayon crop top for Mikal my inner nancy boy, and make-up for Pierre my weak beat poet. Searching and making the costume became an homage to my own repulsiveness, and I slowly began to develop a grudging affection for myselves.

Central to the costume was the mask. Masks are not only an adequate metaphor for the process of identity, they also suggest an escape route from it. Mask wearing is a liminal state of I-but-not-I, and as such is a perfect place to have a dialogue with your monsters. Obviously, the resonance between Masks and Halloween is well established and I kept being reminded that often, when people put on masks, they are actually trying to show there true faces.

The climax of my month came on Halloween night. I put on all the pieces of the costume and invited my monsters to make themselves known. Looking in the mirror, I was repulsed. I looked gay, and ugly, and unplanned. I took this as a good sign. Monsters, obviously, should be monstrous.

Then I went out dancing, and I humiliated myself. I basked in my ugliness, my unacceptability. I was foul and degraded and, shockingly, proud. It didn't matter that a room full of people thought I was unimpressive and unattractive, I was amazing anyway. Being the shallow attention seeking puff stopped being a problem and became a joy. I crossed a line in my head and became my monsters.

Next morning I dissasembled my Halloween altar racked with embarresment. I'd been my monsters in public, a powerful but painful act. Though I can't claim complete psychological equilibrium, my Halloween ritual was an important personal step towards wholeness.

My elaborate ritualising isn't going to be for everyone, but Halloween is an important reminder of our own self censorship, and I think it forces us to make a choice. Do we hide in the light? Or do we walk fearlessly with both sides of our nature?

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