Case 033: Hole Picksfiled January 10, 2021
Illusgaytion by Alex Aldrich Barrett
Gay life is not what it once was. Gone is the phantasmagoric deluge of in-person awards-ceremony-viewing house parties, raves, 12-step meetings, midwifing seminars, dungeon balls, sex gatherings, consciousness-raising ceremonies, and poetry readings. While many of us mourn the endless social calendar that our queer lives once afforded us, some are left wondering: Where did I find the time? The energy? Could I ever do it all again? As we happily ran an aromatic bath and blasted Mazzy Star for the 30th Saturday night in a row, we began to wonder what the future holds for gays beyond the closed doors of our apartments.
Indeed, a post-vaccine world—informed by a racial reckoning, food and housing crisis, economic catastrophe and pandemic—will be brand new! But stepping into the unknown, no matter how frightening, is the bread and butter of queer life. “You open the door, to another door, to another door,” sings Caroline Polachek, in her aptly-titled song, “Door.” At the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, class and identity, there will always be more closets to come out of, more thresholds to cross, more doors to open.
And so, in honor of the transitory, mercurial nature of the ever-evolving, ever-adapting queer, The InQueery celebrates the great doors, portals, thresholds, and tunnels of the popular gay imagination. Be they barriers to deviance, passageways to dungeons, dancefloors, or dimensions beyond the prisons of straight culture, count on us to take the first step beyond.
Chalk doors: Beetlejuice, Charmed, and Pan’s Labyrinth
For those among us who experienced claustrophobic childhoods, what better escape than drawing your way out? Ideal for old, creaky houses, unadorned bedrooms, or those with parents unappreciative of high-stakes art, this spectral passageway, once drawn on a bare wall, gives any space panache. Go on! Be creative! In the case of the Halliwell sisters on Charmed, the chalk triquetra portal enlivened a musty attic with the joy of a barber shop: You never know who’s coming to visit next! Some advice: Always remember to include a doorknob, and perhaps don’t try to make a ceiling trapdoor when you’re running for your life.
Freudian tunnels: Coraline and Alien
If we told you that on the other side of a locked door was a demonic, reality-warping, eyeless Teri Hatcher, ready to reward all your sickest Oedipal desires, would you take the bait? Of course you would. For young Coraline Jones, the first gasp of life beyond her drab straight parents comes through this lesbian birth canal, cast in fuschia and teal. Meanwhile, in other ovarian adventures, there’s Alien’s endless, abyssal tunnels, through which Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley triumphantly makes it out alive. Leave it to the androgynous heroine to be the only crewmember with any common sense, and solely (Jones the cat included) survive the chasms which literally eat men alive. She insisted on quarantine; they didn’t listen!
Gateway to paradise: X-Men comics (2019–)
When Magneto, Xavier and the rest of Marvel’s merry mutants established their own sovereign mutant nation on the sentient tropical island Krakoa, they installed a handy system of portals, throughout the world, through which any mutant may enter. And the real T? Non-mutants cannot crash the threshold. We get to waltz into our own private, fantastical Mykonos, with private gates in Tokyo, Berlin and Santa Fe. And they’re not invited. Could Pete and Chasten perhaps invest in this boring-blocking technology? Could we use this technology to oust Pete and Chasten?
Into the closet: The Chronicles of Narnia
Over the many, many “productive days” spent cleaning out your closet in 2020, did you ever feel the lure to just fall in? For the budding young dandy of British fantasy, what greater rapture could await than a wardrobe packed with furs, bonnetts, bustles and petticoats? (Short answer: Tilda Swinton.)
Beyond the set: The Truman Show
For Norma Desmond, there was no difference between the stage of cinema and this mortal coil bullshit, but, for Jim Carrey’s Truman Burbank, the divide between reality and artifice is quite literal: Just take the stairs to a door in the sky. Though The Truman Show prophesied the 24-hour self-branding media meatmarket which imprisons us all, it also honored that very first closet, and the lunge into the unknown required to escape it.
Password-protected: Lord of the Rings and Aladdin
Admit it, we love wordplay, we love sphinx-play, and we genuinely cannot get enough of bouncers—be they musclebound or mystical. For nimble twinks Frodo Baggins and Aladdin, mesh tops and voluminous hair aren’t enough to grant passage, so you better be clever! The ideal portal for the Party Monster or Party Girl is bound with ancient magic and high taste.
Doors of fate: Sliding Doors
“Is this really my life? Is this really my lover? Is this really my haircut?” Such are the questions that regularly plague all delusional faggots with cinematic dreams of grandeur. In the case of Gwyneth Paltrow, the opening or closing of a London tube makes all the difference between drab life as she knows it and the possibilities of new love, liberation, and a pixie cut that defined a generation. Did you miss your chance to become a star? Maybe, maybe not.
Doorways to horror: Monsters, Inc. and The Shining
Terror starts at home! Don’t let any breeder tell you that there’s safety in the confines of the domestic. Straight men cannot be trusted, be they matted beasts of the PIXAR variety, or matted beasts of the Jack Nicholson variety. If you’re back home with the family for the course of the pandemic, don’t forget to sleep with an axe under your pillow.
Rips in reality: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Donnie Darko
Gashes in time and space, tears into the void, and general openings into abject hell don’t scare us. Bring on your crashing planes and demon scourge of the apocalypse; it couldn’t be any worse than the drip-drip of being here. Ideal for great leaps of martyrdom, peacing-out before 11th grade final exams, or being cast away into a fiery exile, these violations of reality always give us something exciting to focus on, and, once in a while, provide for a lovely impromptu vacation.
Our Conclusion: Down the rabbit hole =straight; Through the looking glass = queer.
Queer Rating: The carved portal to Easter Town in Nightmare Before Christmas
Reporting by David Odyssey