Why Monsters?

Why Monsters?

[April 23, 2017]

When I was in elementary school, I slept on a pull out couch in the living room because my childhood home did not have enough bedrooms to accommodate my three siblings and me. Often on Friday nights, my older brother Ricky would come home after a night of being out on the town and set himself up in the living room to watch TV. Though he kept the volume very low, he would often wake me up and I, in secret, would watch from under the bedcovers.

On one memorable Friday evening on a quest to find something to watch, Ricky came across Universal Picture’s classic monster movie “Frankenstein”. That night I watched that movie -almost from the beginning- not knowing that it would change my life forever. From beneath the safety of my covers I watched in horror as the movie played out. I had so many questions as the film progressed. Why was the movie in black and white? Would it change to colour like it did in “The Wizard of Oz”? Why were they stealing a body from a grave? And, why did Igor take an insane man’s brain from the hospital? Thankfully, when my brother decided to order a pizza my tummy told me it was time to alert him that I was actually awake.

Sharing his pizza with me, we watched the movie and Ricky answered all of my questions. He seemed to know everything about monsters and I soaked up his knowledge like a sponge. The horror that I had felt while watching the movie alone beneath the covers subsided and, instead of being scared, I now felt safe and honoured to be watching the movie with my brother. As the end credits rolled, I felt very conflicted about what I had seen. If the monster was the bad guy, why did I feel so bad when the angry villagers destroyed him?

With the movie over, my brother tucked me into bed, turned off the TV, and proceeded to go upstairs to his bedroom. Alone, the room seemed extra dark. But determined to be a big boy, I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep. I don’t know how long I slept or what woke me, but I opened my eyes to a still dark room to find the Frankenstein monster standing in the entrance way to the living room. In that moment I forgot all about the sympathy that I felt for him and lay in the bed terrified. My instinct, of course, was to run to my mother but, because the monster was in the doorway, I knew he would get me before I could reach her. Instead, I decided to lay as still as possible so he wouldn’t see me and hope beyond hope that he would just go away.

The Monster  didn’t get me that night, but something very powerful ignited my imagination. There is something very special between a child and their first monster. Fear, sympathy and curiosity mixed together that night and the result ignited in me a passion for monsters that I have not been able to quench. I love monsters because I survived that night, by myself without my mother, and that experience showed me that I could take care of myself.

As I grew and started to process the idea that I might be gay, in my late 20s, I began to see monsters in a different way. The sympathy that I felt for them turned into empathy because I was afraid that society and my family would turn on me -much like the villagers turned on  Frankenstein’s monster- once I decided to come out of the closet. With this in mind when creating Justin Case and the Closet Monster, monsters became the best avatars to help struggling gay and lesbian people out of the closet because they themselves know what it is like to be marginalized. Monsters once showed me that I could take care of myself so I thought that it would be poetic if they did the same for the struggling characters in my book.

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