Halloween can sometimes be a distressing time for queer men. What may seem like a particularly fun time of year where anyone can dress up and have a great time can sometimes turn into a month-long battle between what you’d like to dress up as, and what the world fins acceptable for you to dress up as. This vortex of making yourself happy vs making the people around you comfortable often times seem completely suffocating. But the reality of the situation is that almost every recently out queer man, both young and mature, will find themselves centred in the middle of a tug and war between your own feelings and the assumed feelings of those around you. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In all reality, dressing up for Halloween should be something amazing and freeing. It shouldn’t make one feel as if they have to choose between personal happiness and the level of acceptance or tolerance that those around you may have. It’s your night and you should be able to wear whatever you want. You should be able to dress as masculine and as feminine as you want. As outrageous or as tame as you’d like (just as long as it isn’t socially insensitive and offensive) In reality, the only stress one should feel during the spookiest time of the year is the stress of choosing just one costume out of all the great ideas floating around out there. Hopefully, this article will help you put your brain into overdrive during these last few days leading up to Halloween and help you put together the most amazing queer boy costume this year.
When in Doubt, Pastel Out
Whether you opt for femme boy extraordinaire or super masc gym rat chic. Pastels are always a great way to keep things fun for Halloween. Forget bright colours and all black ensembles. Pastels manage to give you a hint of softness with any costume you wear. Wearing an entire pastel outfit, or certain pastel elements can often time give you a sugary sweet and often times funny contrast; especially if you’re fusing something scary or overly masculine with your pastel look. You’re bound to be the centre of attention in your ice cream coloured party outfit if you opt for a pastel gig. Options for your pastel costume are endless. Some super fun ideas are The Chanels, Almost any kind of dessert, The quintessential fairy costume, cheer captain, and Anime Lolita.
A Gay Staple: The Unicorn
Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, lgbtqa+ folks have been associating themselves with the mythological creature for decades now. And for good measure. The unicorn is one of those majestic creatures yields great importance in the world of myth for its power, dominance, and strength. However, the reason the unicorn should be a go-to Halloween costume for queer kids over something like a dragon (not to say that dragons are badass) is that it doesn’t present its strength through overt masculinity, instead, it presents an image of strength through the balance of graceful femininity and brute masculinity. It’s a perfect balance between the two.Now the fun thing about a unicorn costume is that you can make it as feminine or masculine as you’d like and as sexy or tame as you’d like. The possibilities are endless. Imagine dressing up as a fetish unicorn, a space unicorn, a ridiculously hilarious blow-up unicorn or a sexy boudoir unicorn.
Your Favourite Drag Race Alumni
It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bi, queer, or everything in between. If you’ve had the pleasure of becoming a Rupaul’s Drag Race fan, then you’ll know how sickening some of the girls that have walked through the workroom are. And you know deep down inside (like Madonna said) you want to know what it feels like for a girl. So here’s your chance. With over 100 different queens to choose from. Drag race has a plethora of queens to chose from. Even if your favourite queen’s look is too hard to achieve, you can pick any of the other queens who’s looks are easier to achieve. However, when attempting to recreating a queens look, be aware that there may be more work you can commit to last minute. Nails, makeup, tucking, and wigs are all part of the processes, but you don’t have to go full on drag. Remember, it’s your choice. Some good example of gag-worthy queens is Valentina, Alaska, and Trixie Mattel.
Here’s where you can really start to get creative and have fun. The possibilities could be endless. Whether you want to gender bend your favourite character or recreate their entire look. Video game characters are an amazing option for a queer boy to celebrate Halloween in. The world of video games has countless iconic characters to one can emulate or borrow from. Form Square Enix and their Final Fantasy series to Nintendo’s huge game roster. In all fairness, of all the costume ideas on this list. Video games are by far the easiest to recreate since there are most likely plenty of costume stores that sell video games costumes, but there are hundreds of tutorials online on how to DIY your favourite characters looks. Some good bets could be Princess Peach, Payne, Ash Ketchum, Ivy Valentine.
If art is meant to push boundaries, then some of those should be the boundaries of imposing straightness and cis-ness, right? In other words, the art world ought to be a more open and inclusive place for queer people. And while most of us can think of older queer artists from the past (Andy Warhol probably comes to mind), there are lots of wonderful and talented queer artists working now. Here are five:
1. Kent Monkman: Monkman’s work is brilliant and brutal, examining modern Indigenous life and recasting colonial history, sometimes with his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. Monkman is known for using classic colonial images and inserting Indigenous people or characters to recast the narrative. He is also known for his stunning installations and large paintings documenting everyday life for Indigenous folks, the beautiful and the heartbreaking. Blending gender, sexuality, and race together in brilliant ways, Monkman is definitely one of the best queer artists out there. He is currently touring the exhibition “Shame & Prejudice: A Story of Resilience” His work can be found on his website here.
2. Eiki Mori: This Japanese artist is best known for his beautiful photography that explores male sexuality in the most intimate settings. Born in Kanazawa, Japan, in 1976, Mori has been active for almost 20 years in the art and photography world and has produced several photography shows and three books, including, most recently, Intimacy, which was published in 2013. Mori is never flashy and doesn’t demand your attention, instead he invites you to the quiet, more gentle moments. Some of his work can be seen on his website or his Instagram account.
3. Joe Average: After being diagnosed with HIV at the age of 27, Joe Average chose to commit the rest of his life to his art. While his work may seem a bit simplistic, it is undeniably beautiful, colorful, and bright. You can even see his work on banners around the gay village of Vancouver. He is also a prolific photographer, with bright images of flowers, drag queens, birds, and other daily images of life. You can see all of his work here.
4. Sophie Campbell: Campbell is mostly known for comic art work like her graphic novel Wet Moon and her webcomic Shadoweyes. What is most admirable about Campbell’s work is her inclusion of a diverse array of characters of different races, genders, sexualities, and body types, a diversity rarely seen in most comics. She has also drawn for the Jem and the Holograms graphic novel series. You can see all of her work on her art Tumblr.
5. Elisha Lim: Lim first came to prominence for their portrait series “100 Butches”, an ambitious project meant to document many butches Lim came across. They have since worked on numerous different projects, many about documenting other queer, trans, and non-binary people. These include series of portraits about “Sissies“, or works documenting their own life history from Canada and Singapore. Lim’s work can be found in their graphic novels 100 Butches and 100 Crushes.
The category is high fashion gay pride eleganza extravaganza! Pride month is in full swing, and with it come countless pride parades and marches around the world. Now, most pride attendees tend to dress for the weather rather than the event, so the visual representation of what it means to be queer in the modern world is unfortunately left to those walking in the parade rather than those strolling down the street. And even then, most mainstream brands don’t offer up outfit choices that have the gusto needed to catch the attention of parade onlookers. However, all is not lost! The world of high fashion has always been the playground of the queer and non-conformist artists of the world, especially over the past few seasons; and with so much negativity and backlash being aimed at the LGBTQ+ in recent months. It’s wonderful to see designers around the world taking aim at queer oppressors and calling for resistance through their designs. And what better place to showcase your truest self than at Pride? Even if your outfit doesn’t directly call for the heads of those who aim at taking your freedom, you can always represent your queerness with some of these fabulously extravagant ensembles straight from the runways of the world.
Viva Las Gay-vas! Jeremy Scott has had a whirlwind career, having taken his namesake brand from alternative indie label to New York fashion powerhouse. Recently, Scott’s design endeavours have taken him from his home base in New York to Milan, where he now mans the helm at Moschino. For his Spring 2018 collection at the iconic Italian anti-fashion house, Scott delved into the glamorous and excessive world that is Las Vegas. Feather boa headdresses, pinstripe flames, and bold rainbows ran rampant throughout the collection. Taking what could have been an overdrawn Wayne Newton-Mr. Las Vegas trainwreck, into a fun and boisterous look into the more queer side of Sin City.
If you lean towards the more political when it comes to making a fashion statement. Ashish has you covered. For his Fall 2017 collection, designer Ashish Gupta created a collection based aimed at knocking those who feel it’s okay to judge and discriminate against minorities (especially queer minorities) off of their pedestals. The collection, which features gay-themed cartoons, rainbow flag patterns, and slogan shirts all focused on the resistance the gay community should be aiming at those who want nothing more than to make their lives a living hell. With slogans like “Nasty Woman, Fall In Love And Be More Tender, and Why Be Blue When You Can Be Gay?” Ashish’s Fall 2017 collection is sure to have the perfect war cry for any queer activists tastes.
Mary Katrantzou catapulted her career through the use of bold and graphic prints. So it came as no surprise when the British designer sent a wonderfully prim, yet cartoonishly sweet collection down the runway for her Fall 2017 season. The outfits, which were directly inspired by Disney’s Fantasia, which bombards its viewers a plethora of colour and fairytale imagery that would make even the most masc of men twirl with childhood excitement. What’s interesting about this collection isn’t that it directly references queer culture, instead, it conjures up imagery peaceful whimsy and fabulously glittery scenes that look like they came straight of a magical queer utopia.
Romance Was Born
The category is O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E! Imagine a world where disco never happened? Where the flash of the 70s and 80s played no role in influencing what modern queer culture would look like. Some of the greatest LGBTQ+ icons came from the eras of platform shoes and peroxide hair. SO why not wear something that pays homage to heydeys of Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Madonna, and Annie Lennox? Your choices are simple. Feminine ruffles and bows, or fringe and sequins. (And trust me, nothing is more exciting than twirling in a fringe ensemble. Nothing)
Alejandro Gomez Palomo Of Palomo Spain started his brand with a clear motive in mind. To provide the modern gentleman with a chance of exploring the vast spectrum that is gender identity through clothing. Since his debut collection, it was clear that Palomo’s views on clothing and male dressing were really unlike anything that had been seen in the past. In his eyes, dresses, ruffles, high heels, feminine patterns, and soft gender bending silhouettes were no longer off limits. This comes at a perfect time when the notions of gender and what it is to be human are being examined by society. In Palomo’s world, a man can wear a wedding dress or a sheer blouse and feel as confident and comfortable as his female counterpart would feel in it. Since the brand and the collection really have no clear assigned gender, wearing one of Palomo’s creations to a pride event would so impactful and important to those who have struggled with the acceptance of their gender identities by others and it could even inspire those who wish to show the world their truest self. This collection, along with Pride month itself, are really is about expressing the beauty of the gender spectrum. They call for the acceptance and embracing of human fluidity and being able to chose who you want to be for the sake of you happiness.
D.W. Waterson is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she one of the most sought-after DJs in Toronto, but she also runs the production company The Night is Y and has so far written and directed three seasons of the web series That’s My DJ.
In person, D.W. is every bit as larger-than-life as her resume would have you believe. She speaks fast, laughs loudly and possesses a rare, raw honesty in conversation. She’s a combination of bright confidence and blunt realism, something that is clearly reflected in the show.
We sat down with D.W. in her Toronto home, one of the settings for season two, to discuss music, film and the universal stories of love and heartbreak.
Natasha Grodzinski: Let’s start with the show. Did you ever expect the response you got from the first season? D.W. Waterson: No. Season one was kind of a calling card for everyone involved. It was our way of showing the industry, hey look what we can do, please give us jobs, but people really responded to it. Immediately there was a fanbase and people were asking for a second season. So everything started to brew, and then I had an interesting, epic summer. After I lived that I had some inspiration to put down on the paper.
NG: So the show started just by wanting to showcase different talented people? DW: Well, being in the DJ scene, I saw that there was really nothing that was similar to Skins [the British TV series] in this city, saying this is how it really is when you meet somebody and fall for them or just want to sleep with them, or going out and partying, drinking and being young and making those mistakes. Everything in the states is just selling it to us.
I was inspired by the Calvin Harris and Florence and the Machine video for “Sweet Nothing,” with the way it was shot. I thought, man, no one is telling these stories within this rave scene, or electronic scene, and it’s booming. It’s alive, electric and I thought, imagine telling a story about a guy who wants to be a DJ. It went off from there.
NG: After you got the idea for the show, where did you begin with production? DW: With writing. I started brainstorming ideas of who the character would be and what’s the situation he’s trying to overcome. His alter ego Deadpixel came right away, the whole idea of not being confident in yourself and how you deal with that in order to put yourself out there. That’s something I feel like we can all relate to, to some degree. Then, it was about assembling a team and brainstorming actors who would want to be involved. We shot a teaser we used in our Indiegogo campaign and we raised all of our money from that campaign. It was a long process and there were a lot of ups and downs and learning experiences. Once it came out, it caught the attention of the film industry and got me into that circle.
NG: The series is produced by The Night is Y, which is your own production company. What inspired you to create that company? DW: At the end of the day, I don’t want to make projects. I want to tell stories, but I want to build an empire. Laughs. It’s about gathering the right people who are passionate and talented, and putting them in the right place. I wanted a brand that could say, this editor is amazing, talented and a good person. We don’t really see that brand here in Toronto, at least in the indie world. I wanted to build a collective with people who always have each other’s backs and who are always hustling. This way other companies can see anyone who’s involved with this team is really talented and great, and we all help each other out.
NG: In Toronto there is a big Hollywood presence and also a huge indie presence. What has it been like for you, after getting recognition for That’s My DJ, to be in the middle of those worlds? DW: It’s interesting. People who are the gatekeepers of money are starting to pay attention to me, and that was the whole point. Independent is great because that’s where you can figure out what you want to say, sharpen your skills and meet people you want to collaborate with, but at the end of the day, it is the film business. Art is great, but art needs to be turned into a product that can sell so you can support yourself and continue creating.
NG: Was there a decision to move into visual art of were you always involved in filmmaking? DW: Film and music has always been 50/50. In some months it’s more music-heavy because the film industry has died down, so I’m DJ-ing more and pushing my brand and working on my music. And then the other months, it’s more film-oriented and I’m still DJ-ing at night.
When I was in my teens, I didn’t go out and party with people. I stayed at home and I rented movies and literally took notes like a loser. Laughs. I also had a drum set in the corner and I would blast music. That was basically what I did. Then I went to film school and took post-production. Halfway through I flipped and took directing, but still I was playing the drums in bands until I discovered DJ-ing. I got really good at it and my friends told me I needed to DJ outside of the house. I started booking gigs and developed that persona.
NG: Do you find it hard to balance time between film and music? DW: It’s all natural. They flow together so well and they help each other. I wrote and produced the main song for That’s My DJ. Because I’m a DJ, I was able to find producers and bands with amazing music and they all allowed me to put it in my show for free because I have those connections. Then I’m able to turn around and say to those bands, let’s do a music video and I can shoot it for you. It really goes hand in hand. I’ve always said music and film is the greatest love affair the world will ever know.
NG: Was That’s My DJ the first time you’d written and directed something yourself? DW: I did some shorts at Ryerson, but those never count because they’re student films. They’re like practice babies. That’s My DJ season one was the first time I wrote, directed and produced, but season two was really the first time I flexed my directing muscles. I felt like I had a team that supported me, trusted me and knew what I was doing. Yeah, I’m really happy with the way season two turned out.
NG: Was there anything you took away from the first season that helped you with the second? DW: Working with professionals. I’m kidding. No, it’s just learning to leave your ego at the door. I worked with another writer who is a professional writer, not just a friend, or an actor. I said, this is my experience, this is my vision of what I want the show to be. Can you help me put it to paper? And he did. I further flushed it out from there with the dialogue and working with my actors to get them to a place where the words were natural in their mouths. With each project you do, you get rid of the weakest links and you bring on people who want to try. You try them out or you just bring on other professionals.
NG: You were confident in the team you brought on for the second season? DW: Oh yeah. For season three it only got stronger. We’ve already shot it.
NG: Is season three going to focus on a different character? DW: For season three we follow Jade Hassouné’s character Sam.
NG: You can’t reveal anything, can you? DW: I mean, it’s a darker season, which is interesting. The first season was fun and party, and the second season was a little more heartbreaking and emotional. There’s always consequences to actions, especially in the DJ scene and the electronic world. Yeah, you and your friends go out, do drugs and drink a lot. It’s fun, you’re partying and you’re 21, great, but when a couple of years go by and you’re still on that same routine, dark things happen. That’s what I wanted to explore.
NG: That’s an important message, especially with, as you said, there’s a certain image of that life that’s being sold. DW: It’s glorified. Drug use and partying! Nothing can go wrong! You know, bad things can happen.
NG: Holding onto that realism, then. DW: Yeah. I’m all about telling real, raw stories. A lot of stuff in the States is glossy. It’s more about the drama and the push-pull, nothing’s realistic and everyone’s hair looks amazing for some reason. The stuff I really respect is British television. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s gritty and it just is. They don’t hold off on cussing, nudity, drug use or profanity, because that’s the reality. Kids are using phones when they’re two. They’ll dig and find stuff we don’t want them to see by at least seven or eight.
NG: Do you want to keep creating things like That’s My DJ? Do you want to continue the series? DW: Season three, we’ll release early next year. We’re super stoked about it. There’s been whispers of season 4, but I told everybody I need to live first, you know? I’ve just recovered from season two, so I’d like some time. I’m working on two features right now and I also have a series I’m currently pitching around, which could be web series or television. Everything will be a part of that Night is Y collective.
NG: Do you think releasing the show as a web series was a better way to reach your target audience? DW: Yeah, I did the math in my head, because a lot of people said this would make a great film and it would, but I don’t think a rave film is going to do well. The reason I think that is because people who go to raves spend their money at raves. They spend their money on tickets, alcohol and being out. Once they’ve partied for three days straight and can’t see straight, they go home and crash. They’re coming down off of drugs, what are they doing? They’re on YouTube. They don’t want to go to a movie theatre and see a movie.
NG: Since you’re in the scene, you can really understand your audience. DW: It’s my job. It’s funny because DJ-ing and directing are similar for me. Just standing on stage, it’s my goal as a DJ to… okay, there’s 300 people in a room. They’re all at varying levels of sobriety. Some don’t want to be here, some got dragged here, some are here to dance and some just want to pick somebody up. Its my job within the first 10 minutes to get them all on the same emotional page and focused on one thing. Then I take them through paying attention to different beats and I make them move differently. I build it up to a climax at the end and then walk off the stage. It’s very similar to how a story on film arcs.
NG: What else do you really want to stress about the show? DW: I don’t think I’ve seen this story before. Nobody really identifies their sexuality, which I love. Everybody is fluid. I know the characters’ sexualities and so do the actors, but it’s not put at the forefront of the show. It’s a girl falling for a girl who’s in a relationship, which I know a ton of people have experienced. It’s real. It’s not overdramatic with pulling at plot lines. These things happen. I think even people who identify as straight can relate to it, how we can have these week-long whirlwind romances. Everything that you’d experience with that person in a year can be compacted into a weekend or a week. I feel like our culture is living faster, especially with social media. People are a little more afraid to be vulnerable. They jump in and do everything fast, and then they just shut the door, oh no, it’s too vulnerable for me, goodbye! The person who fell the hardest is left crushed. It’s a realistic ending. We all don’t get closure.
NG: It’s a universal situation, and sexual orientation becomes inconsequential. DW: But it’s also amazing for women who do identify as gay and lesbian to have something like this where it tells a realistic story and it’s done well. I know there’s not a lot of content out there and the content that is out there isn’t shot well, there’s no sound design or cinematography. I’m really happy to have this out there for everybody.
NG: You’re giving good representation, because even within LGBTQ cinema, there’s a lack of representation for queer women. DW: I mean, look at pride. It’s all geared towards men. Everywhere there’s naked men dancing, that’s what it is. Out of the 50 pride parties there’s five for women and it’s the same 200 women going to each of those parties. There’s not really a voice, but you could throw that right back to inequality of women to men. It’s still present in the LGBTQ community.
NG: Was it important to you from the beginning to tell this love story? DW: I was terrified. I was like, this cuts so close to the bone. Then I thought, if I’m going to be an artist, which is another word I was afraid to identify with, I think that’s what artists do. Artists allow themselves to be vulnerable. They live life, they feel really hard and they put it into their art. In season one, as a writer and director, I was hiding. That character was me, but I didn’t want the audience to think it was me, so I’m going to hire this guy to play the character. No one will make the comparison. Season two came along. I had the story and I tried giving it to Simon and things didn’t work out. I had one of those ‘aha’ moments where I thought, what if I switch the characters? What happens if it’s Meagan? At first I was thinking of having her fall for a guy but that’s so boring. We’ve seen it so many times. That’s not the experience I had. She needs to fall for a babe, and she did. It was really cool to see with Dayle [McLeod] and Emily [Piggford]. Obviously, it was written for Emily, and then I met Dayle. We had our own lightning bolt moment and I told her, I think you’d be perfect for this role I have sitting right here. I put her in a room with Emily to see if their chemistry would even work. After doing that, I knew I had something. I remember shooting the rooftop scene and thinking, we’re really doing something awesome that I’ve never seen before, that’s real and raw, powerful and confusing, but sexually charged.
NG: Did you ever feel like you had to push your actors to get them into a certain headspace? DW: My actors trusted me to the ends of the earth. That’s who I want to work with, but it’s also their job, to be honest with you. It’s my job get them to trust me, to make sure they know they’re in safe hands and to have a vision. I know where we’re going. They trusted me so much and I think you can see it in their performance. You can see it in the story. For the scene with Emily in the bathroom, we did two takes to get her in the headspace. Everyone was quiet. I wanted everyone to be calm on set so she could have the space. She’s become one of my best friends and a while back she told me about a personal moment. On set, I said to her, remember that time you showed up at my house bawling? I need you to access that. She turned it on and we used that take.
NG: You can see the emotion in the scene, which isn’t a place always accessed in television. DW: Television is story points and film is more emotional but I like a combination of both.
NG: The episodes of the series are pretty short, but in that amount time you can still find those emotions. Was that hard to balance in the amount of time? DW: The way season one unfolded came very naturally. Everybody has the shortest attention span, especially for me on YouTube. If someone shares a video with me and it’s more than two minutes long, I’m not watching it. Why would I make a web series where the first episode is 10 minutes long? Nobody will watch it. You have to play your audience. That moment of Emily going on Facebook and stalking Hannah, we’ve all done it. It’s really big when you’re stalking that person, in your head. I needed a way to cinematically charge that feeling when you’re like, oh my god a new person! Are they dating anybody? It’s about finding those emotional moments in that experience of meeting someone new and really connecting with them and finding the best way to visually express it.