The Big Idea: Rob Costello

Editor Rob Costello has a theory about monsters, and what they have in common with a segment of us who constantly find themselves under attack. It’s one compelling reason for the existence of We Mostly Come Out at Night: 15 Queer Tales of Monsters, Angels & Other Creatures.


If you think about it, monsters are inherently queer.

This was the first “Big Idea” behind the genesis of We Mostly Come Out at Night: 15 Queer Tales of Monsters, Angels & Other Creatures.

Despised and misunderstood, monsters are defined by their innate otherness—their innate queerness, if you like. They are creatures whose inborn nature disrupts the status quo, threatening the rules and mores of so-called “normal” life. Unable (or unwilling) to assimilate in order to assuage the fears and ignorance of those around them, they are vilified for the crime of simply existing—and, therefore, usually find themselves cast out of society, where they are treated as dangerous abominations, forced to live in the shadows or be hunted and destroyed.

Think Frankenstein’s Monster or Quasimodo.

Think Gollum or Swamp Thing.

You don’t need to squint too hard, I think, to recognize the obvious parallels between these fictional monsters and the lived experiences of millions of LGBTQIA2S+ people around the world. Queer and trans folk have long been cast (and cast out) as monsters and pariahs. In 2024, there are still dozens of countries that criminalize same-sex relationships, including a handful that impose the death penalty.

Meanwhile, despite the social progress of the past half-century, here in the United States we have recently witnessed a reactionary backlash driven by religious extremists, political opportunists, Internet trolls, and media grifters. Indeed, there is a thriving and lucrative market in the MAGAsphere for those who demonize queer and (especially) trans lives. This has led to renewed forms of legislative oppression, book and medical bans, a rise in homophobic violence, and a general air in conservative circles of unhinged hysteria reminiscent of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and directed at everyone from doctors to librarians to drag queens.

As I describe in the Introduction to We Mostly Come Out at Night, those who correctly perceive the wider cultural embrace of queer and trans identities as a loss of their power to control and erase us have figured out how to claw back some of that power by wielding the monster metaphor as a cudgel against us, especially where children are concerned. We all know the slurs: groomers, deviants, predators, etc. They accuse us of being monsters for the stories we tell, the clothes we wear, the people we love, the pronouns we use, and even the bathrooms we enter in public places. They label us as monsters for the sheer audacity of existing when they would prefer that we disappear back into the closet.

But here’s the thing: Monsters are never powerless…

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Source: The Big Idea: Rob Costello

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