What were we talking about? Oh, right, Halloween is just around the corner. As the official gay holiday, the expectations are always so high for choosing the right outfit. Yet, no matter how I have tried these past four years, my costumes have never quite worked out. Let me take you through what I aim for and the disappointing results:
What I Aim for: Yoda
- We all remember the unexpected way that Yoda made his way into our imagination and became a pop-culture icon. Sure, he started out as an annoying muppett who terrorized R2-D2. Eventually, though, he became the voice of reason who delivered sage advice in the form of inverted sentences. Yoda is so much part of our social consciousness, that his name is even identified by the spell checker in my wordprocessor. A great costume he is.
What I End Up With: Gollum
- Gollum, like Yoda, has his own creative rules for grammar. Less cute and endearing, though, Gollum would be a disappointing result when aiming for Yoda. Who ever turned to Gollum for advice? As far as I know, he never evidence any strange mental powers that gave him the ability to levitate rocks.
What I Aim for: Mr. Belvedere, 1948
- Of all the fussy, crypto-gay film characters to appear in the postwar era, Mr. Belvedere ranks the highest in my estimation. He was a man after my own heart. Belvedere disdained Americans’ unhealthy obsession with children, scorned the prison of heterosexual marriage, and tore apart environmentally and socially disastrous suburbs. This costume would scare the snot out of Focus on the Family.
What I End Up With: Mr. Belvedere, 1985
- After skulking around Fantasy Island, this pale imitation of the original Belvedere ended up enslaved to a middle-class hetero home in Pennsylvania. Sure, he was just as fussy as his forties counterpart, but the Reagan-era Belvedere did less to critique the banality of suburbia than to become its queer booster. Okay, there was the "very special episode" that dealt with HIV. Mostly, though, this Belvedere hid from real controversy. He even disavowed his queernees by locking himself into an unexpected and largely unexplained hetero marriage. Who needs to go disguised as that closeted mess?
What I Aim for: Phyllis Schlafly
- Going as the original Queen of Mean, Phyllis Schlafly, could quite possibly be the scariest costume ever conceived. Shlafly burst onto the national scene in 1964 with a screed that proclaimed that the Republican Party was not radically conservative enough. Never one to shy away from blatantly irresponsible statements, Shlafly frequently spoke out against any attempt to curb the proliferation of nuclear arms during the Cold War. Heck, she declared the atomic bomb “a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise god.”
More recently, she has called for a purge of the Supreme Court of “activist judges” (Read: Anybody who disagrees with Phyllis Schlafly). Apparently, according to her altered Republican reality, justices who undermine the Constitution by supporting a coup that installs a half-wit into the presidency aren’t “activists.” They are “literalists.” She has also demanded “abstinence only”education, opposed the distribution of contraceptives for the unmarried, and has dismissed the use of condoms as a means to check the spread of HIV.
Those other “accomplishments” aside, Schlafly will probably best be remembered as the demagogue who killed the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. through her "Stop ERA" campaign. Schlafly confidently declared that the ERA was not what feminists claimed (ensuring equal access to services, equal pay for equal work, fairness). According to Schlafly, it was really about making women susceptible to military drafts, unisex toilets, and (horrors!) lesbian marriage. The adoring media side-stepped the fact that Schlafly was a driven, highly-educated, career activist who rarely spent her days baking cookies or mending shirts. Instead, they accepted her self-created image as representing “normal moms” who opposed their own liberation. This could be a costume scarier than Freddie Krueger.
What I End Up With: Sarah Palin
- Oh, sure, Sarah Palin is just as cynical as Schlafly. As much as Schlafly downplayed her own career success, Palin’s constant refrains of being “just a hockey mom” mask her steely determination to become a mayor, governor of Alaska, and now vice president. Like Schlafly, she also pretends to speak for the majority of women (even though polls suggest that only a tiny minority agree with her).
And, of course, she has mastered the Orwellian double speak of “hate is love” on gay issues. In her nationally televised debate with Joe Biden, she implied that she had “gay friends,” or at least she has friends who have gay friends. Palin tends to ramble incoherently, making it hard to pin down what she really meant when she said, “I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.”
If we were in doubt about how she defines being “tolerant,” she clarified herself in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. "I am, in my own, state, I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman," Palin stated, “I wish on a federal level that's where we would go because I don't support gay marriage.”
What a nice, tolerant friend she is! I don’t know about you, but I always like to have friends around who, based on their theology, think of me as a lesser person who deserves fewer rights than the majority of Americans.
While Palin has some frightful elements, I can’t help thinking she is a pale (Palin?) imitation of things we have seen many times before in this nation. If Schlafly was unique and masterful in her evil, Palin looks like a tired retread. She is just another arch-conservative woman who benefited from feminism, but seeks to dismantle those gains for others.
What I Aim For: Warren G. Harding
- For decades, Warren G. Harding was most often selected as the worst president the nation had ever known (in competition with Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan). When Harding was elected in 1920, he already had a reputation of being a bit slow and woefully unprepared for the job before him. Though he died before he even finished his first time, his administration became renowned for its corruption, unchecked greed, and incompetence. He also initiated economic policies, via Herbert Hoover, that culminated in the U.S.’s Great Depression. By all accounts, a major loser. Even Harding admitted, “I am not fit for this office and should never have been here." It would be a costume that only historians would appreciate.
What I End Up With: George W. Bush
- Harding used to be considered the worst president, but I think that we can safely say that Bushie transformed himself into the most hated executive that this nation has ever known. Unlike Harding, he didn’t have the personal self-awareness to acknowledge his own ineptitude. Instead, he has unapologetically driven this country into moral and literal bankruptcy. If I appeared as Bush, even as a Halloween costume, I doubt that I could keep from vomiting.
What I Aim For: Gollum
- Cold, soulless, greedy, erratic, self-interested, and mean: These are a few of the words that come to mind when thinking of Gollum. Okay, so he isn’t Yoda, but he has the potential to frighten. His internal dialogues and erratic behavior made Gollum unpredictable and dangerous to those who surrounded him.
What I End Up With: John McCain
- Cold, soulless, greedy, erratic, self-interested, and mean: These are a few of the words that come to mind when thinking of John McCain. While I never (ever) agreed with McCain’s politics, he long ago lost whatever courtesy I might have given him when he so clearly cuddled up to Bushie to fuel his own ambition. Seriously misreading the direction of history, McCain banked on the idea that the nation would embrace the Bush administration’s mishandling of everything from the economy to wars. He was mistaken.
During this campaign, even he has appeared frightened by the bile and hatred that has bubbled up from some of his supporters. Nonetheless, he clearly will do anything to take power. McCain has veered from one direction to another in increasingly desperate attempts to appear legitimate. He went from arguing that there was nothing wrong with the economy to suspending his campaign because the economy was in serious crisis. Most recently he “guaranteed” that he would win the White House, despite being behind in most of the nation’s major polls. To make that guarantee, he is either completely out of touch with reality or he already knows that the Republicans are planing yet another coup that will undermine the will of the people. When he starts mumbling "my precious" on November 4, I think that we will all know the score.
Unlike Gollum, McCain has no magical ring or bastard Hobbitts to explain his personality disorders. Sadly, a McCain costume would be a more mundane form of anxious selfishness.
What I Aim For: GayProf
- Few other bloggers have the cool and glamorous personality of GayProf. He is good looking, witty, and can deflect bullets with his magic bracelets! Who doesn't want to be GayProf? Surely his own comic book or television series is just around the corner.
What I End Up With: Kevin French
- From the extremely short-lived cartoon Mission Hill, Kevin French would probably be the best I could do for a rendition of GayProf. Nerdy, self-conscious, and maybe a bit of a smug know-it-all, French would be a downer as a costume. Ask yourself this, though, is GayProf any less likely to know the details of dilithium mining in the Star Trek universe than Kevin French?