In honor of Pride Month 2021, we’re elated to be hosting an article by one of the best new voices in Horror. Eric LaRocca is the author of THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE, STARVING GHOSTS IN EVERY THREAD, and FANGED DANDELION. He has a collection being released by Off Limits Press in Fall 2021.
A Horrific Pride: The Importance of Queer Representation in Horror
by Eric LaRocca
Although most writers of horror and dark fiction might prefer the autumn season for its eerie sensibilities and ubiquitous feeling of dread that typically pervades the month of October, I’ve often found myself especially fond of the month of June. Although that’s not to say I’m dismissive of autumn’s spooky charm and chilling atmosphere, my attachment to June is rooted in a sense of belonging I often went without during my formative years as a queer youth.
For me, Pride month has always been a safe time of year—a time to celebrate one’s identity and live one’s truth unabashedly. Although I hadn’t summoned the courage to attend Pride events until recently, June has always been a month of merriment, especially considering it’s the time when my seasonal depression shrinks to the size of a grain of rice.
While most regard horror as a genre that has obliquely maligned the plight of the queer person or worse, simply ignored them, I’ve found the genre to be an inherently queer space ever since I was a child and existing on a healthy diet of Universal classic monster films.
As the horror genre exploits audience’s fears of “the other”—controversial things unknown, unsaid, and otherwise unexplored—the genre intrinsically operates in a distinct realm of queerness not only by serving audiences unusual topics, but by illustrating common themes and personages of the queer community. Horror, in its most prosaic form, fixates on an antagonist—a “monster” —that typically represents a threat to normative behavior. The very presence of the menace acts as a means by which to reinforce a theme of queerness as a hazard to the typical heterosexual formula.
Although throughout the years, in order to keep up with social climates, the genre has drastically mutated from the romanticism of mist-swept Eastern European castles to S&M torture chambers or modern cityscapes, the representation of queerness has remained steadfast and integral to the genre’s efficacy.
Despite the genre’s coded exploration of queer themes, there has yet to be a mainstream horror film detailing a plight endured by an openly queer character. However, the genre, much like humanity, continues to evolve. These horror icons have paved the way for future figures to frighten and, more importantly, thrive in queerness. It is my sincere hope that you, dear reader, not only thrive during Pride month, but every month throughout the year.
Happy Pride! Queer horror forever.