Scary Safe Spaces

By Jared KlegarOctober 24, 2023

Scary Safe Spaces
Jared Klegar rattles this piece from the LARB archives:

Despite the association with horror and jump scares, Halloween might, in a queer way, afford a kind of safety. This is where “Neon Pink,” Sam Moore’s ode to finding oneself, begins. In the article, originally published in 2020, they write, “The beauty of Halloween is that it’s an excuse to try on identities and costumes, to find out what works and what doesn’t, what’s worth keeping on in the future.” And so, one Halloween night, Moore dons a neon pink wig, applies some bright purple makeup, looks in the mirror, and thinks, “I wish I could look like this all the time.”

Still, Halloween is imperfect cover. It’s Halloween; things are scary. That evening, Moore attends a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the theater becomes a kind of sanctuary for them. But, as Moore observes, “when I step out into public spaces; when I see people looking at me on the tube,” that sense of protection is quickly compromised. Again, danger lurks.

Halloween is a haven, Halloween is a hazard: Moore’s essay, in its rejection of binary thinking, accepts that these two contradictory ideas can both be true—that there is both freedom and risk in playing with gender presentation. But despite the fear, Moore continues on their journey of self-discovery. And, in a piece that so generously cites the words and directives of other artists and forebears (Charli XCX, Alexander Chee, Walt Whitman), the exhortation that has stayed with me the most is Moore’s own: “To allow yourself to change, be fluid, to treat every day as a kind of Queer Halloween, trying on new costumes and ideas, finding different versions of yourself, all of them equally valid.”

Happy Queer Halloween.

LARB Contributor

Jared Klegar is a LARB editorial associate. He is from New York, and is currently a student at Stanford University.

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