Halloween has always been a holiday particularly well celebrated by two groups of people — the queer community and kids. In the past few years, I have enjoyed the best of both worlds.
Ever since I was a kid in Queens, N.Y., dressing up in homemade costumes and using a pillowcase as a candy bag, Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays. Sometimes we would dress up twice and double-dip by roaming a different part of the neighborhood. We would do our best to dodge the ”bad kids” armed with shaving cream and eggs and we always had a good time.
As an adult, Halloween became for me, as it has for so many of us, my ”Queer Christmas.” My first dance, with the girl who was soon became my first kiss and then my first girlfriend, was at a college Halloween party. I was a ninja, she the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. The song? Dead or Alive, ”You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” Surrounded by a bunch of hetero college students it all seemed a bit surreal, but it was my first public ”coming out.”
After moving to D.C., I became well acquainted with the annual High Heel Race and the wonderful way politics and costumes can come together. One year for Halloween, the girlfriend and I (now my wonderful wife) dressed in drag. I even splurged and bought real hair mustaches for each of us. Frankly, it was the most terrifying Halloween ever, because we realized what life is like for young, cute gay guys who dress up as cowboys for a night. Wow. I have gotten cruised once in a while by gay guys, but it needed to be in considerably lower lighting. That year was a real eye-opener for both of us. Our conclusion was that boy drag was not a good option for Halloween, especially for me.
This year that may change, but this time I’ll be a prince. Let me explain.
In the past few years, Halloween has taken on a whole new spin. Having a child changes your life in many ways, but Halloween is a particularly vivid example. For example, Rosemary was born in late September, but that did not stop us from putting her in a cow costume for her first Halloween. We entered her in a parade and costume contest in Brooklyn, accompanied by our ever-patient black Lab, who was dressed as a large container of milk. I spent a lot of time making a T-shirt for a dog with Horizon Organic milk container art. (Obviously, this is what sleep deprivation does to new parents.) They won the category for best ”team costume” and we were accused of exploiting her cuteness. I got the feeling Halloween was going to be different from that point on.
When Rosemary was 2, she had figured out the whole ”you get candy for free” thing and Halloween became a much-anticipated holiday. That year she was sick, but managed to put on butterfly wings and walk through our apartment building, not wanting to miss out on the candy. Then it became a multi-event affair, especially living in a neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights, known for over-the-top Halloween parties, children’s events and house decorations.
Now, as the parents of a 4-year-old girly girl, dress up and costumes are pretty much a daily activity, so as Halloween approaches there is more anticipation than ever.
Last year, for example, the pressure was on us to dress up, too. Snow White does not trick-or-treat alone. I went all out making a spider costume, fashioning legs out of black panty hose stuffed with newspaper and attaching them to my sweatshirt with fish-wire. I didn’t get cruised by anyone in this get-up, although Leah was a pretty hot bee and so we were clearly an insect couple.
This year the planning started much earlier and includes costumes, which friends to trick-or-treat with and where, and so on. But if you are a Princess, fairy, butterfly or some combination every day, what do you do on Halloween? Keep in mind, this is a child who came to the Capital Pride festival this year dressed as Dorothy (yes, that Dorothy) with no prompting, and you have some idea of what we’re working with here.
So the light of our lives has decided to be…a princess. But since it’s a holiday, she will be a super princess. And it looks like she wants a royal court to accompany her, upping the ante for us. This is what I get for agreeing to be the prince at play dates.
By the time you read this, we will have been busy planning, shopping, decorating (pumpkins, a handmade fancy wand to accessorize the super princess costume, pictures to hang in the windows). And if you look on my Facebook page Nov. 1, you will see a modern twist on a royal family, a queer family, a silly family and a happy family.
And I will not be wearing a mustache.