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October 2002 Cover
October 2002 Cover

 Speaking Out (of his mind!) Speaking Out Archive  
October 2002 Email this to a friend
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Halloween masks
By Lester R. Grubé

Faced with the daily guilt and torment of our abnormal condition, life can be a living hell for us gay people. But as bad as things are most of the time, they are especially horrible during holidays. It is on these festive occasions that we encounter the cruel isolation and despair of loneliness. In the same way that Jesus as a single person was doomed to a life of shallow and superficial relationships, never fully understanding the meaning of the words love and family, so too do we as gay people suffer from the triviality that inevitably accompanies the lack of a spouse and children.

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Perhaps no holiday is more poignant in underscoring this emptiness than Halloween. For Halloween is truly a holiday for children. Dressed up as giant crayolas or frightening tape worms, they scamper from house to house carrying their black plastic garbage bags eager to receive their treats of apples, and raisins, and all sorts of nutritious goodies. Halloween is the one night everyone loves to stay home, because they know they'll have so many visitors. Is there any music more heavenly than the sound of the door buzzer followed by the sweet harmonies of "trick or treat"?

Although I have no wife or children to dress up and send out into the neighborhood spreading joy, I resist the temptation to turn off all the lights and sit in the dark feeling sorry for myself. Instead I make every effort to enter into the spirit of the occasion.

Usually I like to share the fun of the evening with Mom. But this year she will be attending a Northeast Regional Life Master's Beano Tournament in Stoughton, so I had to find other company. I briefly considered inviting over a very straight-acting and straight-appearing young man I met picking up a few things in Filene's lingerie department, but I thought better of it. What if one of the trick-or-treaters were to notice us, two men in the same apartment together without any women present, and suspect. I didn't want it on my conscience that I had spoiled any child's Halloween. Instead I decided to invite over my dear friend, Dynette Sett, the perfect person with whom to spend the evening.

Ever since Dynette appeared at a costume party dressed as the Yellow Pages I've been wanting to match her creativity. The beauty of that particular outfit was that it was so simple (a large cardboard box painted a bright urine color with appropriate holes for her arms and legs and head) and at the same time so clever.

Last year was perhaps my most stunning achievement. I borrowed a movie usher's uniform from a friend-- gloves, flashlight and all. This year I may be able to put my hands on a white dentist smock which together with some toothbrushes stuck in the pocket could really be sensational. Or I might do something really wild and put charcoal on my face and answer the door as a Negro. Whatever I come up with, I know the kids will love it.

As important as a good costume is, it counts for little if you are unwilling to extend yourself and have fun with the kids who come to the door. I always start out by asking their names and where they live and how old they are. Then I usually ask them about their costume and tell them about mine. I'm sure they appreciate my taking the trouble to get to know them a little rather than my impersonally handing out some treat.

After I've chatted with them for awhile, I sometimes ask them if they can sing a song or recite some rhyme or perform some other little entertainment before I give them their reward. Some of the children, and surprisingly enough it seems to be mainly the older ones, are too shy and leave before I even have the chance to hand them their surprise.

Selecting the treat is half the fun. I never take the easy way out by buying bags of Three Musketeer Bars or Junior Mints or that kind of stuff. I always pick out something that I know the kids will appreciate and that will last for a while. Last year I gave out miniature bars of soap covered in bright aluminum foil. This year each trick-or-treater will receive two orange and two black pencils wrapped in' white tissue paper with a ribbon. I've always prided myself on my ability to surprise kids. It's not really all that difficult. All you have to do is remember back to when you were young and think what kind of treat you would have enjoyed getting.

The important point of all this is that when you're willing to make the effort, even Halloween doesn't have to be a sad time for you. After all, when you're wearing a mask, who's to even know that you're gay?

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