Nearly two years ago, I read this article by Buzzfeed Senior Editor Louis Peitzman and it resonated with me in a very big way. Not only do I feel like it could have been written by me (if I were a better and more eloquent writer), but it rings true in so many ways. I am a 26-year-old gay man who is an unabashed fan of horror movies. Since today is Harvey Milk Day, I thought it might be entertaining/interesting to discuss homosexuality in relation to the horror genre. I expect there will be a wide variety of comments and opinions on this, and I’m intrigued to read most of them (bigots and homophobes need not apply). I have no idea how many BD readers are LGBTQ or Allies, but I hope all of you get something out of this post. For those of you that this post describes, this is essentially an extended thank-you note to all of you. This will be a particularly personal piece for me, so here it goes.
I won’t go into too many details of my experiences growing up gay, but I will say that I was bullied a lot in elementary and middle school. High school wasn’t as bad only because I hid in the confines of my high school’s theater department. I actually made real friends there who knew that I was gay. I tended to stay away from anyone not in that group,
I’ve always loved horror, as I have mentioned before, but I was never really part of a horror community. Other than my dad, I could never talk about horror films with anyone because no one I knew ever had a passion for the genre like I did. It wasn’t until college that I would find other people like myself. I should clarify that when I say “like myself” I mean that I found other gay people and other horror fans, but other than one or two friends I made, none of those people were both gay and fans of horror.
I suppose I never really fit into what I would call a “typical gay” lifestyle. It’s difficult to explain what I mean by that phrase, but I guess rather than use the word “typical” some might use the word “stereotypical.” No offense or condescension intended, I just felt that while I was gay, I never felt like I belonged in any circle of gay people that I knew, because none of us shared many mutual interests. It didn’t help that I didn’t really know anyone, gay or straight, who was as into horror as I was.
About a year ago, I found a group called the Austin Horror Society and I joined their Facebook group. After deciding to go to one of their monthly meetings at a local bar here in Austin, I arrived to see what many people would call “stereotypical horror fans.” Basically, they looked like the Goth kids from South Park. I am ashamed to say that I did not join them for a drink. I bought my own drink and stared at them from across the room debating whether or not to walk up and introduce myself. I did not do that. I left. That is something I am not proud of and still regret to this day. I judged a group of people based on how they looked and it made me miss out on an amazing opportunity. It should be known that I have met some members of the Austin Horror Society since that day and each one has been a lovely person. Lesson learned.
That judgment is something many people feel when you tell them that you are really into horror. I may not look like a stereotypical horror fan, but I most definitely am. I work a second job in an industry that is full of people who are not horror fans whatsoever. It’s awkward telling someone who doesn’t get horror that you are a horror fanatic, which I’m sure most of you know. As Peitzman mentioned in his article, it’s sort of like coming out again. Being gay and a fan of horror is very much like having two strikes against you. Though when I meet people, I introduce myself as “Hi! I’m Trace and I love horror movies!” as opposed to “Hi! I’m Trace and I’m gay.” It still still feels like I’m admitting the same thing.
Where I Am Now
Since I started writing for Bloody-Disgusting six months ago, I have come across a very wide variety of horror fans, and I have become very surprised by how many of them are gay. Because of the nature of my job, I’ve become more active on Twitter and other forms of social media. I’ve gone to various press events and horror conventions. Earlier this month, I attended Texas Frightmare Weekend and was incredibly surprised by how many gay people (male and female both) were in attendance (seriously, it was like a Gay Horror Convention this year).
My point in writing this post is to highlight this sub-culture of gay horror fans. I felt isolated for most of my life because I didn’t completely feel like I fit in with any particular group. Because of my position writing for BD I’ve been introduced to so many people I have things in common with. This isn’t to say I’ve never had gay friends or friends who weren’t into horror movies. I have and still do, but there’s just something different about discovering people who share two of the biggest parts of your life in common with you.
Nothing in this post is meant to be exclusionary. The last intention I have is to give the impression that I think gay horror fans are better than straight ones (or that I like them more). I just want to pay respect to those people that made me feel fully accepted and like I was actually a part of a group where I belonged, if that makes any sense. So thank you all for giving me that experience. Discovering new people and conversing with them over the things we are most passionate about is my absolute favorite part of this job and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Everything I have written here is the reason why I always try to respond to as many comments as I can on my posts, be they positive or negative. I know there is a lot of negativity (and trolls) out there on the internet, but the positive feedback and constructive criticism really help to push through all of that. Because I spent so long looking for belonging and acceptance, I try to promote healthy discussion on all of my posts, as I don’t really see how trolling/slinging hateful comments does anyone any good (though I’m prepared for the worst in the comments section on this particular post). We are a community of horror fans and, while disagreeing is good, should always support each other.
So I’d like to open this up for discussion in the comments. I found my niche in gay horror fans, but what about you? Is there another niche of horror fans that you feel like you’re a part of? Much discussion could be made over this and I think it’s a fascinating subject. Us horror fans are already kind of ostracized by “normal” people, so let me know if there was ever a moment in the horror community were you felt like you belonged for the first time!