I honor Halloween more than most holidays. The horror, thrilling and gory genres across movies, television shows, books and other forms of storytelling have provided me an outlet since childhood to dissect some of my most isolating and terrifying moments better than any other commemorative day or cinematic medium.
LGBTQIA+ representation and queer theory continues to be villified in most grade and high school environments — even when the introduction of that knowledge might hugely improve or even save a student’s life. As kids trickle back to class in-person this fall, some leave the danger of prejudiced family homes only to enter risky school environments in which identities are restricted and homophobic attacks from students, staff and teachers go unpunished. Others will watch while administrations degrade and demonize LGBTQIA+ students, or fire gay teachers and coaches without due process. A majority of schools still refuse to teach any semblance of LGBTQIA+ history, not to mention LGBTQ-specific health or sex education. All the while too many students — like transgender students who report much higher rates of feeling unsafe in school or fall into the 35% of students who attempt suicide — continue to suffer silently.
*CONTENT WARNING*: Violence, homophobia, transphobia, mention of death, links to details of assault I still remember being berated. I remember the fear, the nerves, as they swim down my spine upon recall. Someone screams “God is watching” in front of a crowd as I share a quick kiss with my girlfriend at an outdoor festival. A cackle of laughs ensues from the anonymous herald’s friends who decide to join in on the casual homophobia. The anger is visceral, but out of fear for my and my girlfriend’s lives, I suppress it. We hurry home in the dark.
If you hand a cranky toddler a hammer, chances are they attempt a good hashing at whatever is in front of them. If you give a patterned fraudster unchecked executive authority, is it fair to say he will use that power to pardon his co-conspirators?