Since the season of autumn is donning upon us, everyone is getting couped up in their homes with blankets, a cup of hot chocolate and some horror movies to get into the festive mood. Maybe a rewatch of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline? A spark of macabre comedy with The Addams Family? Or maybe a cult classic like The Shining? You may see October being referred to as “spooky month” on the internet, but behind the funny title what truly is the meaning and origin behind the infamous Halloween? And why is this festival so beloved by many goths, queers and non binary peers? 


To begin with, some of you may see halloween as “satan’s birthday” or “the day the dead rises” when in reality it is not all mythological. In Celtic history, Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve”, where Pagans celebrate the harvest at the end of summer. Through the capitalization of companies, different religious impacts on the festival and the historic persecution of Paganism, the majority of Europe and North America sees the festival as non religious and even demonic to some extent.


To truly understand the reasons behind the festive customs of halloween, we dig further back in history to see Ancient England and Ireland - where people used to believe it was the time where the spirits of the dead came to the realm of the living to visit their old homes, and evil entities such as black cats, witches and goblins were too, to escape the realm of the dead to wreak havoc in the living’s world. To prevent being haunted, Pagans would wear costumes and light bonfires to ward off spirits. To this very day, this tradition is continued, but in a different way you know as “trick or treating”. 


The culture of pumpkin carving originated in Ireland during halloween, where they would carve horrifying faces in turnips then put them outside their houses to ward off the wandering soul of Jack - a drunkard who tricked the devil twice out of his own deal, and his soul was left to wander on earth as a result. During the 1850s Irish emigration to America due to the result of the Great Famine, this tradition would continue, but due to the lack of turnips in America, Irish people have resulted in adapting the culture by using pumpkins as the substitute. This is one of the primary reasons why America and Europe have come to know and love the festival known as Halloween. 


But how come this is associated with gothic and queer subculture? It’s all just a huge misunderstanding and most children do it for the sake of getting a bucketful of sweets. First of all, we need to understand how queer and goth subculture is associated with each other. Needless to say, gothic literature and subculture has always been categorised as marginalised groups or individuals, finding comfort in their culture of dark clothing, makeup, indifferent interests, and the most important of all, 80s gothic rock music that the modern goth subculture was stemmed upon, are all deemed as “macabre” and “off putting” to the mainstream society. Almost the same applies to queer people who face historic persecution during the dark times, and especially from the eyes of the church. LGBT individuals are persecuted for their gender and sexuality until this very day, and are also seen as “unnatural” and “strange” by society, when we know they’re actually intimidated by the “unknown”. 


Both minorities possess the idea of acceptance, and not to see all objects and people with labels, such as societal presentation of gender, fashion and history that was blatantly rejected by the concept of androgyny, gender fluidity, crossdressing and prosecution from the religion in their respective histories that creates solidarity within the group. Both groups have an open mind that perceives the subculture as a comfort to the disturbed and a disruption to the comforted. It is core to both minorities, by not associating themselves with the strange and the “occult” is a rejection of their own identity, an action of conformity to mainstream society. Many individuals of the LGBTQ+ community have come to love and be part of the goth subculture, and many individuals of the goth community also happen to be LGBT as well.


Some goes as far as to call halloween the “season of the gays” or “spooky season”, that has to do with how much the comfort of halloween provides for queer and goth minorities. Even some of the cult classic halloween films I’ve listed are significant to the queer subculture: such as The Addams Family 1991, that is an icon of the gothic sitcom genre. Swenney Todd, the well known movie musical, as part of the urban gothic genre, that piques the interests of the goth scene as the only time of the year that people won’t judge them on their lifestyle, but a time to embrace and to commemorate the historic context of gothic culture.


The LGBTQ+ community also sees halloween as a time when they can freely express their own identity, such as the aspect of dressing up for “trick or treat” has given them the gender euphoria of expressing their presentation of gender. As a queer person who has been dabbling into the gothic subculture myself, and with a few of my close friends being goth as well, I feel a sense of comfort that doesn’t feel out of place for myself to dress up and be something different. It is the freedom that lets people crossdress, make jokes and be who they truly are. 


Even when it isn’t Halloween, the queer and gothic community should not be alienated or be demonised by mainstream society. Both scenes have existed for centuries and their history should not be forgotten or erased. This is a statement against discrimination or the rejection of those who are different and the solidarity of the LGBTQ+ and goth community should stand the ideals and values they identify with.