When I was a kid all I ever really wanted to be for Halloween was a punk rocker. Every year it was the same. For me, a child of the 80s, there existed no other costume. It was the most likely scenario in which my mother would allow me to wear garish make up, tease my already-big hair, lacquer-coat my bangs as high as they would go and wear all the big, bangle, dangle jewelry my ten year old heart desired. I didn’t care that all my friends would come up with something new and creative each October. All I ever did was come up with a new version of my personal classic costume, my latest interpretation of punk rock. (Whatever that even means.)
Looking back as an adult on this (one and only) childhood peculiarity of mine, I think Halloween was less about pretending to be something else other than my kid self and more about becoming. In my delusional ten year old mind, growing up to be a punk rocker was a potential reality. It’s comical really to think back on, but it was also genuine and earnest and true. I was convinced I actually had a pretty good shot at becoming the next Madonna or Cyndi Lauper. But really, when I stood in front of the mirror and lined my eyes with dark blue kohl pencil, instinctively knowing how without being taught, what I was doing was trying myself on for size. Dressing up as a punk rocker was an access point, a portal, a crystal ball. It was a way to see myself as myself before it was an actual reality.
It’s no coincidence that I stopped wanting or feeling the need to dress up for Haloween when I hit puberty. It just happened. One day I’m a kid and the next I’m not. I got my period like most girls around my age and then I had to go through the horribly embarrassing sex conversations with my parents and even shop for the most humiliating, boring white garment a girl could get to wear: a “training bra.” Then one day I was no longer training, I was simply a woman. Finally, it was happening — albeit not in the glamorous way I had hoped and dreamed it would, but alas, I was allowed to get my ears pierced at Claire’s and start shaving my legs every other week.
Becoming a woman was my birthright. No one ever told me I couldn’t do it. In fact, it was the opposite, it was expected of me. That is the reality of the culture I grew up in. Lucky for me, it suited my sexuality. I never had to come out like Tim Cook just did and say in front of millions, Hey look, everybody, I’m me. I never had to take off a mask in front of the world to reveal myself. I was lucky enough to be allowed to just grow up as myself, which was hard and scary enough as it was.
There’s a lot of people who say it doesn’t matter and that the world doesn’t need to know about one’s sexual orientation. Maybe that’s true for some people, people like me who are heterosexual and accepted. I’ve often asked myself “does it really matter?” and the answer I’ve come up with is that when the world stops being so oppressive and judgmental it will stop mattering.
Me? I’m no punk rocker. But I’m not so different from that little girl in lots of make up who dreamed of being one. I say, this year, if you don’t know what to be for Halloween, go as yourself, honey. It’s your birthright. And if everyone doesn’t love you, find a new everyone.