Hello everyone, I’m Dave. I am going to talk to you about comics and zombies. I’m Joe (Jim?) Bob Brigg’s number 1 fan. And I have an interesting taste in music and look pretty rad in Hawaiian shirts.
Ha! I fooled you all!
Do not adjust your phone screen. I am in control of the horizontal and the vertical.
This is an official take over of the Weekly Wail by J.M. Brannyk! And in honor of Pride kicking off this week: I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m asking you to wear your g–d— mask!
This week is going to be a get-real week in horror, as this has been a few weeks of get-real moments, right? A lot of unrest, a lot of hurt people. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you since the social media sites do a good job of overwhelming us with it.
I’m no randy when it comes to get-real fireside chats. I’ve talked about non-binary monsters, racist surfers, HIV zombies, the horror of loss, and queer sexual awakenings alongside reviving the dead.
So, I’m here to bring it to a story, a common story in horror – duality.
du·al·i·ty: an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism
A tale as old as time, some may say, as many cultures carry their own forms of duality – the human and monster as one entity. The light within the darkness and vice-versa.
We have mother and destroyer in Bloody Mary. There is Frankenstein’s monster in the strange conundrum of both alive and dead. The male and female, both victim and killer, of Normal Bates. We have the up-right Dr. Jekyll and the hideous Mr. Hyde. And these are coupled with other legends and creatures from across the globe (trust me, I’ll be talking about those in the future).
I often feel like this, myself. The social norms of duality – sex, gender, sexuality, and identity. I struggle with this. The same coin of gender and bisexuality is neatly hidden under the pocket of my persona, my “human” face.
Today for this little fireside chat, I’m going to talk about one specific monster, one of the classic Big Five, and its human counterpart and what that means to me as being LGBT.
The Wolf Man
Growing up queer, I didn’t have any role models I could identify with. To be honest, I didn’t even know the words for my feelings. I just had feelings, and I became acutely aware that I was alone in these. As a child, no matter how many Care Bears and Ninja Turtle repeats you watch, you learn very quickly that being different is something to be suppressed, not celebrated.
Being different was a curse.
I remember the first time watching Teen Wolf, the great 80’s Michael J. Fox movie. When our main character, Scott, was absolutely freaking out because he was changing into a werewolf during school and afraid of being discovered as a werewolf, I thought, “Yes, exactly! Yes, that’s me!”
That was how I felt. I had to be careful. I had to hide these “imperfections” and “differences” from others. If I was being bullied for even the slightest of things, there was no way that something so big, so monstrous, would be overlooked. To hide this, I over-compensated. I refused to look at others, to engage with them. In doing so, I protected myself, I thought.
And one would think that I would be relieved that once Scott was discovered to be a werewolf that he became popular, loved, and accepted by his peers, but instead I felt betrayed by Hollywood. I knew that it was a lie, just a convenient lie to push the story. People, especially my peers, were not that accepting and were not that kind.
Unlike the teen counterpart, we usually see the adult human of the wolfman being constantly terrified of his other half, of either its lack of control, the hysteria from the community, or damnation of their soul. Always on high alert, sweaty, and a half-crazed glaze in their eyes. They barely can keep themselves together as humans, let alone their “cursed” side. They could barely be human because of that other lurking just below the consciousness.
This was more my speed. It wasn’t just a complete erasure of my “tells’, but of my feelings, too. This other side of me – this monstrous and unwanted side – was chaotic and wild. It was primitive and dangerous. It was hungry and I feared it.
You see, in werewolf movies, unlike some other types of monster movies, you don’t have a mentor to steer your way. There isn’t an old, grizzled John Leguizamo-type to tell you, “All right, kid, here’s how you do it…”
There’s no hierarchy, no coven. No rules or order.
It is alone: that’s part of the curse.
Very rarely do werewolves have their own family or “brood” in movies. Yes, Underworld, sure, Teen Wolf, and…yes, Twilight.
But if we look at others, the curse of being solitary persists.You are alone to deal with your own curse, even with the rare support of others. They do not fully understand you…and, deep down, they still fear you. You are still a monster to them, no matter how much they love and “accept” you. Some want to change you. Some want to ignore that part of you. Some try their very best, but there is always that void between you.
And, one of the worst points of all, many stories express over and over (The Wolf Man, Ginger Snaps, The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, Monster Squad, Penny Dreadful), that it is not their fault that they are cursed or are monsters – they just are. Good people by day, hellhounds for Satan’s bidding of carnal lust and blood at night. They have no efficacy or agency in their lives and in their destruction. They are powerless victims of their own desires, their demonic and wicked desires.
Love the sinner, hate the sin.
The werewolves usually all die in the end, by the hero’s hand, with gratitude on their dying breath…
Maybe this sounds hyperbolic to you. And hey, I can’t tell you what or how to think. I can only go based off my own experiences and feelings about it.
Even now, as a much more healthy and authentic adult, I am quiet. I am selective to whom I out myself to in my “human” persona. In this unsteady environment, it’s scary and it’s dangerous. Even now, to this day, as my “human” self, I am cautious, nervous. I feel out the situation several times, smell the air for danger, before I can be open with someone.It’s not much different from villagers with pitchforks, except it’s losing my job, losing my house, and losing the very small scraps of support I allow. I am discrete. I am passing. But, I also feel alone.
When people ask about me, there are places I don’t or can’t go into. To be honest, atheism is easier to talk about than my queerness because that was a choice. These feelings and pull of duality were not a choice.
However, the lesson is that this isn’t a curse, and more importantly, we are not alone.
Just yesterday, after several minutes of coy questions, goose-stepping, feeling out, and taking a leap of faith, I found out that one of my friends, a “human” friend, that I’ve known the past few years is a “wolf” just like me. And to find that connection is both saddening and relieving. Sad that to this day, there is so much vetting between two people, two friends, that needs to be done to feel safe.
But we are not cursed. We are not monsters. We are not a duality, but a mix, as all humans are.
Yesterday I was relieved because I realized that there are more out there, more that are smelling the air, watching for signs. We are afraid, but we are not alone. And that’s the thing, my friends, my silent and anxious LGBT+ werewolves out there, we do have our own brood, our own coven. We have a family. We’re not alone in this.
We just have to be brave enough to find it.
Thank you to all our allies out there. We don’t always know you’re there, so it’s always a delight to find you.