Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Is a Member of the Alphabet Mafia

Feature photo of Elvira, who came out as some kinda gay in her new memoir, by Richard Blanshard/Getty Images

Queers that are already compiling their 31 horror movies in 31 days list rejoice, Elvira is some kinda gay or bisexual. Well, maybe she didn’t use those terms exactly — but she revealed in her memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira, that she has been in a relationship with a woman for the past 19 years.

Elvira, who’s name is Cassandra Peterson, has starred in macabre films from the early 70’s up until recent years, and she’s made cameos in some of your favorite shows, comic books, and video games. On top of being the queen of all things dark and chilling, Elvira is also a sex symbol. Her vampy looks and hourglass figure have solidified her as an icon for those that are obsessed with horror and hot women.

In an article by The Advocate, snippets of the memoir were uncovered, including the detail that when they first met, Peterson mistook her beau, Teresa “T” Wierson, for a man.

“Often, when I was doing my pre-workout warm-up on the treadmill, I couldn’t help noticing one particular trainer — tan, tattooed, and muscular — stalking across the gym floor, knit cap pulled so low over his long brown hair that it nearly covered his eyes,” she writes.

It wasn’t until they met in the ladies room (!!!) that Elvira realized Wierson was a woman. What kinda meet-cute shit is that!? We love to see it! We love to imagine the startled double-take she must have given when the brooding figure she was (I’m assuming) lusting over turned out to be a woman.

The two remained friends for years after that first encounter, until (again, I’m assuming) one dark and stormy night where the sky was a deep blue and the lightning strikes lit their faces. On the night in question, they went out for a movie, and Elvira describes an urge to kiss Wierson, that I’m sure she followed up on at some point and it was super steamy and hot.

“I think I was even more surprised. What the hell was I doing? I’d never been interested in women as anything other than friends. I felt so confused. This just wasn’t me! I was stunned that I’d been friends with her for so many years and never noticed our chemistry,” she goes on. “I soon discovered that we connected sexually in a way I’d never experienced.”

It remains a momentous joy for me when people of notoriety and fame come out of the closet after years of the public assuming they are straight. When celebrities come out, there is inevitably the kind of person that says something like “duh! this isn’t news!!”

That kind of response is super weird to me. Like god just let people be happy that someone famous and hot came out. Maybe you are the arbiter of sacred queer news but some of us only learn when that celebrity says “I’m in a relationship with a woman” for the whole world to hear.

It’s also just really beautiful to hear of queer love that has lasted almost two decades, the idea of two women growing old together warms my jaded little heart. Congratulations to Cassandra Peterson on this incredible news, and just in time for the Halloween season, like god what a fucking icon.

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Dani Janae is a poet and writer based out of Pittsburgh, PA. When she's not writing love poems for unavailable women, she's watching horror movies, hanging with her tarantula, and eating figs. Follow Dani Janae on Twitter and on Instagram.

danijanae has written 157 articles for us.


  1. Hi! Just a quick comment to suggest that, if someone comes out as having had both female and male partners in life, calling them “gay” when they have not -as you very well point out- called themselves that is a really biphobic thing to do. Queer women includes bi+ women and not every sapphic is gay, anyways, happy bi awareness week, everybi!

    • Reasons I left Autostraddle in the past. They’re more than happy to mis-identify/label people and never issue a correction or an apology.

    • Hi! I appreciate this comment!

      Elvira did not label her sexuality in any specific terms, which is always more complicated when writing about pieces like this! Some lesbians have male partners for most of their adult life before having relationships with women. Some bisexual people (sapphic and otherwise) are comfortable with the word gay as an umbrella term referring to the broader LGBTQ community. Some bisexual people, of course, are not. And some people don’t prefer the word queer, either. We don’t want to speak on behalf of Elvira or anyone else. When a celebrity or known person uses direct language for their identity, we try our best to mirror it whenever possible. There’s a lot of options and, again, Elvira did not specify! But we still want to be able to write about her.

      The brief line that refers to Elvira as gay, which in this instance is meant as an umbrella term, is followed directly by the sentence that she didn’t use that exact word in the excerpts available to us. The rest of the article doesn’t specify sexuality, but focuses on Elvira’s current long term relationship. Of which we have much more, concrete detail.

      I’m the editor on this piece and I’m happy to slightly adjust the wording of the sentence mentioned here to further leave more open room! Thanks again.

      • Carmen, it’s true that some people don’t like the word queer, but it’s still the most inclusive term to use when someone is queer and hasn’t clarified beyond that. Gay automatically precludes bi and pansexuals. In the end, if there’s concern about using any label whatever, then… simply don’t. We can celebrate her being in a relationship with another woman without applying any label whatever. <3

        • I respect your opinion on this! I also respect that some people, especially people who are older and closer to Elivra’s age range, find that word to be slur. (To be clear, I do not. Queer is actually the preferred description of my sexuality! Not lesbian or bisexual. But this isn’t about me).

          I do hear your point. I am also trying to make this article easily readable by Google and people who are searching for news about Elvira, respecting the vagueness in her own word choice (or lack thereof), and meet the various needs of our vast community. Which is all to say that given this feedback — which again, I do appreciate — I’m going to do one last update to the article. Thank you.

        • You acknowledge that some people dislike the term “queer”, so it doesn’t really follow that queer is the most inclusive term.

        • To Jo, I appreciate the values you bring around inclusivity, but as someone who identifies with the labels “bisexual” and “pansexual”, I’m here to say that I don’t feel left out by the term “gay” when used in a general sense – so I have difficulty with your claim that gay automatically excludes all of us bi/pan folks.

          I quite enjoy using the term “gay” to describe myself, actually, particularly when in more hetero spaces where I want to make clear that I am NOT hetero. I happily use “queer” most often but I also appreciate that it doesn’t land well for some members of our LGBTQIA+ community and thus isn’t as inclusive as it could be…when I am trying to be maximally inclusive LGBTQIA+ is the term I lean towards specifically because it includes the “+”. Lots of different perspectives on this within the community, as we can see in this comment thread.

          Alphabet mafia is always a favorite :) Thanks for your thoughtfulness here, Carmen.

    • hoping both commenters feel heard and appreciated.

      i’m not sure what solves these discussions given that gender/sexuality terminology has very specific meaning for some people and looser affinity for others. friends and i have used terms lesbian, queer, and gay to refer to ourselves in different contexts, though most of us would generally be considered cis lesbians given who we’ve associated with romantically/sexually.

      a willingness to listen respectfully, and observable efforts to be accepting and welcoming should count for a lot. autostraddle seems to do those consistently. i’ve learned a lot coming here and i really appreciate the efforts.

  2. “Her vampy looks and hourglass figure have solidified her as an icon for those that are obsessed with horror and hot women.”


  3. I just think it’s beautiful when someone is no longer afraid, personally or professionally, to live their truth.

  4. What a THRILLING development for the tail end of the full moon. Thank you so much for writing this up Dani! So happy for Cassandra!

    • Now I want a whole series of Hallmark movies based on real life meet cutes. Rachel Maddow met her wife when she did her future wife’s landscaping and I’ve always thought that would be an adorable rom com.

      • sportsball edition(s):
        Megan Rapinoe & Sue Bird at the olympics (soccer-futbol/basketball)
        Natasha Cloud & Aleshia Ocasio (wives!!!) on instagram (basketball/softball)
        Amanda Chidester & Anissa Urtez as teammates (softball)

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