Mister Babadook Comes Out: Queer Representation in Horror

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Happy Pride fron Mister Babadook!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the internet buzz about Mister Babadook, terrifying Australian ghoul and now a surprising queer icon There are a couple of different accounts as to how the Babadook gained his title; I’ve heard that it started as a fan theory on tumblr and that the movie was classified under the LGBT section on Netflix (and really, these origin stories aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive). Wherever it came from, I am kind of living for this. I am always here for queering things up at all times for no other reason than because we can. I am also down AF for anything that will cause horror bros to loose their shit and if there’s anything that will do just that, it’s a a popular horror monster being co-opted by people horror bros don’t want to share their toys with. Is a queer Babadook without it’s problems? Obviously not; way too many people think it’s cute to say “the B in LGBT stands for Babadook! lolol!” Yeah, we don’t find that funny. 

I thought this was a great opportunity to share with you my favorite queer horror characters, few and far between as as they may be. Historically, horror has had a real problem with including LGBTQ+ characters in a way that doesn’t turn them into dangerous villains or first victims. There’s definitely more LGB representation, but we’ve still got a long way to go for our trans and non-binary fans. So with that said, here are some of my favorite queer horror icons:

May

May will always have a special place in my heart for it’s portrayal of the main protagonist and how it deals with her queerness. May is the story of a lonely girl who goes to really extreme means to make a friend. She has never dated before but meets Adam and they start dating. After things fall through with him, she begins seeing a co-worker, Polly, who is unapologetic AF about her queerness. What I love about Polly is that she is a lesbian who is not afraid to be as femme as she pleases and there’s no “you’re too pretty to be gay!” bullshit in the film. There is also not a lot of fanfare about May and Polly dating, they just date. Of course May, a bi person, is the antagonist and *SPOILER* Polly is a victim. However, they don’t use May’s queer identity to explain her actions (AHEM, Sleepaway Camp, I am looking at you). 

Sick Girl 

Sick girl is part of a TV series called Masters of Horror and is directed by Lucky McGee, who also directed May. Sick Girl is about a relationship between a bug-loving entomologist named Ida and Misty (and a huge bug named Mick). What I appreciate most about this episode is that Ida and Misty’s queerness is presented the way hetero romance is presented on-screen; it’s normal, realistic, and doesn’t need extra attention drawn to it. Plus Angela Bettis is a queen. 

Contracted

This movie got all kinds of things wrong, namely sexual assault (when this film first hit Netflix, the synopsis described a brutal rape in the film as a “one night stand.” That description has been changed, thankfully.) with just a touch of biphobia. Samantha is becomes an unfortunate carrier of a strange disease after she is drugged and raped by a man at a party. Her partner is a real fucking peach who accuses her of cheating, implying several times that it’s inevitable because Samantha has been with men before. Biphobic fuckery aside, 99% of the film focuses on Samantha, who doesn’t say offensive shit like that and who is presented as a human being who happens to be queer…and also a zombie.

The Moth Diaries

I am not going to lie, I low-key hated this movie. It was slow AF and boring to boot. The only redeeming quality here is the amazing queer love triangle going on between Rebecca, Lucy, and their mysterious new classmate, Ernessa, which goes down at the boarding school they all attend. What would have made this film good would be if they actually acknowledged Rebecca’s sexuality rather than heavily hinting at her feelings for Lucy, however I enjoyed their ode to the Lesbian vampire sub-genre of horror without all the objectification. 

Jennifer’s Body

I am not sure if two female characters making out once in a film would qualify them as queer characters, but Jennifer’s Body gets an honorable mention because it’s campy and I love it and Jennifer, who puts the moves on her best friend, Needy, is played by a real-life bi person, so that’s nice 

Alien

It was pointed out to me at Crypticon that fans of the film have discovered an interesting tidbit about Lambert; on her ship log information, it reveals that she is actually trans and has undergone gender reassignment surgery. Again, it’s not a plot point that gets discussed at all, but the filmmakers could have done all kinds of offensive shit with a trans character in 1979 and the fact that most people don’t know there is a trans character in Alien speaks volumes. 

I know I am probably missing quite a bit of quality movies with quality queer characters in them, but those are some of my favs in movies I’ve actually seen (feel free to point me in the direction with more of this!). I’ve noticed a theme with these choices, and that seems to be that with only one expectation, the only LGBTQ+ representation here is for the L and occasionally the B. Lesbians and women who like women are kind of the staple queer characters in horror which is alright, I guess but I would love to see a little more variation, esspecially with regard to trans and non-binary characters. 

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