FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Might I Suggest A Themed Party?

Feature image by Molly K. Adams

Happy last Friday of June, friends! We made it! From the early party-driven chaos of Pride and Gemini season (and A-Camp, tbh), to the more emotionally-driven chaos of Pride and Cancer season, we’ve had a month. I have grown so much just this month, and honestly, I’m ready to stop.

July is always the settling-in month of Summer for me. June is this exuberant freedom from my typical routine that often results in me going too hard, and July is when I settle down, get back into a work schedule, and relax during the long, hot nights. July is also the month of cookouts and BBQs and picnics by some natural body of water. Much less club-going, but still lots of community.

A prime community building holiday is coming up just next week. While I don’t ascribe to July 4th as my independence day, it is a day primed for a cookout because most of the country shuts down. Plus, the campiness of Americana as a genre and aesthetic is honestly, just too good to not lean into a theme. So, for the month of July, might I suggest a themed party?

Picture it: Flags everywhere. So many flags it’s sacreligious. Everyone is encouraged to dress like their favorite dad, or like a literal firework, even. You serve the cookout food of your childhood (with vegan and gluten-free alternatives of course), and end the night with red, white, and blue popsicles. You have a cute little donation box by the cheap beer you bought (just to be on theme) and you and your friends generously give what little cash you have to RAICES or some other righteous group that is actually working for independence in our country.

If you need any more reason to throw a themed party, might I offer the hypothesis that themed parties are queer culture?

Exhibit 1: A-Camp. Community Editor Vanessa and I were talking about how coming to A-Camp requires a serious commitment to sticking with a bit, and a themed party is just that, on a much smaller scale. People really, really, really got into the high school theme this year.

Exhibit 2: There are four different pieces about throwing oneself and one’s friends a themed party on this website right here.

+ This piece by Crystal, explores the world of Skins-themed parties, which were at one point, an epidemic plaguing UK-based youth.

+ Kayla wants us to consider “Throwing a Highly Specific Themed Party For No Particular Reason” in a FYC from December. (She also then made all her friends commit to a horror themed party for her birthday like the true Gemini queen she is!! Halloween who?!?)

+ Rachel comes through with the how-to guide for throwing a themed movie marathon.

+ And Vanessa gave us the holigay guide to throwing the best themed party of your life.

So pals, are you inspired to throw a themed party? What would your theme be? Or, have you thrown a recent themed party? Was it amazing? Do you actually HATE themed parties??? I wanna know everything about you and parties and themes. Of course, I also want to hear about whatever else you’d like to tell me. Friday Open Thread is always open for whatever conversation organically grows and this week is no less. So get in these comments and tell us about you! We can’t wait to chat.

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. In my circle we throw a themed party every weekend night (and some Sunday brunches) in February, because it’s the shortest and worst month. It’s been going on for so long that people who have moved away come back to town for Feb Club.

  2. When I was trying to become closer with my first group of queer friends they invited my ex and I to a “Dead Queers Party.” We fully committed to a pretty great Mulholland Drive cosplay. If I’m invited to a party with a theme I will commit. This is just how I am.

    Rachel’s article has inspired me to want to throw a very queer film noir night where we dress up and watch Double Indemnity and Bound and get very drunk on martinis and straight whiskey.

    • What a coincidence, I was on the Mulholland trail Sunday and lead me wanting to find my copy of the movie an re-watch it Saturday night. Mary Sweeney is a great editor, cause Lynch’s next film Inland Empire made less sense as was less queer.

  3. If I were to host a theme party it would be simple, Come as You Are. It probably would be a beach bonfire party and I’d invite the whole community(well really the local lgbtq groups and shops that reblog the event will). It would be a day to just exist out at the beach, by the water having fun with the community. I may actually do this as my local friends circle has been getting smaller and it be nice to know more local lbtq people.

    How’s everyone’s week going? I had a weird string of events were within a 2-minute time frame I matched up with 7 women on OKC. Sadly one was pretty blatant about her transphobia & butchphobia, but saying she’s, “looking for cis-femmes only, no negative energies.” Thank you for making it easy to block. I also found(thankfully didn’t match with) the staunch Republican who happens to be a lesbian & a religious minority(implied that she will only date women of the same religion). Which has me wondering for the past day or two, how big is republican lesbian dating scene, especially for non-Christians, out here in SoCal? Like what sites do they read(even that site that will not be named isn’t full on Republican). I know lgbtq Republicans exist(Catalin Jenner), but the farthest right I have met at Cuties was a centrist & even they were anti-wall(for monetary reasons). It’s perplexing.

    I spent my Sunday in the hills riding my bike & had a great time despite falling down once. Thankfully, it was that hot.

    Thank you for viewing & reading my post. Have a positive weekend!

  4. My friend Megan and I both have early October birthdays so we have joint Meg(h)an^2 birthday parties with themes based on our combined age or the year. We had a Marie Curie themed party for the 150th anniversary of her birth. A Vesuvius themed party for the year we turned 79. A 1973 themed party for the year we turned 73 (also 1973 is my birth year & I turned 40 that year). Last year’s concept was slightly convoluted with a Pynk theme because we turned 83, the atomic number of bismuth, which made me think of Pepto-Bismol.

  5. I asked a couple of weeks ago about what kind of stuff there is to do in the Bay Area (noting that I live in the South Bay, not SF proper) for Pride, and Indiana W. mentioned the Dyke March. I see someone’s doing a meetup, I’m going to try to make it. That’s almost like a themed party, right?

    Anyone else going? This will be my first time. Anything I should know to bring/not bring or plan to see or do?

  6. I’ve finished season two of “Dark”, and here are my thoughts on it.

    – Hannah is the worst.
    – There’s a theory that when Hannah went back in time, she became Katharina’s mother. It is supported by the fact that really the only thing we know about Katharina’s mother is the she gave Katharina a black eye, and the two don’t like each other very much. That would make Katharina Jonas’ sister. It would also mean that Jonas is Martha’s nephew and her uncle.
    – And now I’m shipping an aunt and her nephew…again.
    – The way that all of these families are related is mind blowing.
    – Charlotte is her own grandmother. Even for this show that is way out there.
    – Now we have to wait to find out what happened to Charlotte and Elisabeth.
    – I think that the girl in the future that signs to Elisabeth is Jonas and Martha’s daughter.
    – The Martha from the other world isn’t here to break the cycle. She saved young Jonas from certain death, which means that she always saved him. This is nothing new to the timeline.
    – I believe that Other!Martha is from the universe after ours. The one that Adam is trying to make to save Martha.
    – Ulrich and Katharina’s fates seem kind of karmic. They were real assholes when they were young, and now that’s all catching up to them.
    – The thing that most blows my mind about this series is how much the actors resemble each other. I thought that middle-aged Ulrich and old Ulrich were the same person, but they’re two different actors. How in the…? It’s so bad that I knew who old Magnus and Franziska were before they revealed it.

  7. I love themed parties, we used to have murder mystery parties and it was a chance to dress up as a specific male character in menswear before I felt brave enough to just do it because I want to.

    • So relatable! This isn’t quite a theme party per se but I had to portray a historical figure for a high school assignment and I chose Jack Kerouac (I truly don’t know why, I hate On the Road), which gave me the opportunity to wear my dad’s flannel shirt. If I had to pick one moment that was my Root, it’s probably when I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “Huh…this feels right.”

  8. When we moved into our old house we had an OAPARTY (Old Aged Pensioner-party). We had boiled sweets, doilies, crosswords, elasticated waistband, white hair and lipstick on our teeth.
    I also like to really commit to an unsexy costume, like dead Rod Hull

    • Hi, Can relate to this. Now many years ago a friend and I held a Halfway To Retirement party when we had mid thirties birthdays at around the same time. Must admit we didn’t go in for the doilies and boiled lollies etc but we did have wear whatever you like, especially if it’s a cardi and dye your hair (what then was the pretty outlandish) Blue, wigs optional, that only elderly ladies wore.
      Had the place decorated in Free At Last banners.
      Anyway, we’re now both retired and Free At Last. No one’s gonna make either of us do something we don’t want to do anymore!

  9. Theatre kid, of course I like themed parties but unless you count 80’s night at dive bars I don’t think I’ve been to one since I was little. The theme was like knights and princesses and of course me being me loved my princess dress, but took the extra armor for my own and wore all those items to pieces before I outgrew them.
    I’d say what I miss most about childhood was wearing dresses without sexual connotations attached to me and my body but that’s not entirely true unfortunately.

    Less depressing here I am 20 something years later still mixing and matching gender coded clothing and accessories as I see fit. Especially belts lately, never stopped with the boots.

    This song is pounding in my head and I cannot sing it AT ALL

    Óró Sé do Bheatha Bhaile performed by Seo Linn

    And the reason it’s in my head is cause I decided to watch Outlander and my wee bastard brain was like what similar things have we heard and que’d up some Irish-Gaelic song I heard while on a hard folk music binge. Good thing I wrote the name down otherwise I’d never remember it, searching for a specific Gaeilge song that has something about Grace O’Malley in it would be haaaard.

    Which brings me to party theme idea Folk is Not for Fascists or something.
    Like especially in America for Celtic folk things because songs about getting rid of invaders and mourning land stolen doesn’t apply if you’re a European descended person living on stolen land.

    So if I were to throw a party with that theme I’d arrange a buffet table starting on one side with made with produce that’s “New World” the other that’s “Old World” with things like jambalaya in the middle. Dessert table would be oatcakes with honey and somethin very chocolate maybe.

    But I have no idea if I could come up with a playlist that wouldn’t give people headaches because my annoyance threshold for folk and traditional musics is high.
    Still I think most GenX to Millennial people could enjoy Mongolian rap.

    • Eluveitie, Mongolian metal, Orphaned Land, Opeth–the spectrum of places to go from your musical thoughts is wide and wild.
      I love -LOVE- love the idea of a Folk is Not for Fascists party, and I think there are a lot of queer pagan folk in particular who would be super into it.

      • The high pitched string instruments of East Asia and throat singing(Arctic circle not just the Steppes) is where I tend to lose people

        Korpiklaani is middle ground enough between metal-ness and folk-ness but I have found Tanya Tagaq (Inuk throat singer) is too far afield for people I know who listen to cookie monster vocals all the time which makes no fuckin sense.

        Oooh yes indeed especially with how queer Odin is and how the fascist types try to ret-con him as some patriarchal law giver arch type when that’s so totally Tyr.
        Plenty of non-queer Northern Heathen would love to join such a party, like devotees of Frejya.

  10. I’m a Type A nerd who used to love homework so of course I adore a theme party. It’s honestly very relaxing to have a specific dress code to work with, I hate having to put together a normal outfit! Wait…is this why I like Halloween so much??

    I think the keys to a good theme party are a) relatively simple, flexible theme, b) some instructions from the host, and c) an understanding that some people are just not going to be on theme.

    The theme party that my friends and I are currently working on is a party crawl where each person’s house is a different Disney villain, complete with costume, themed drink, and snacks (i.e. one person is Ursula with seaweed snacks, another is Hades with flaming shots).

  11. My wife and I threw our first themed party when it was the future in Back to the Future – October, 2015. We all had such a blast that friends requested another themed party, so the next year, we did The Birdcage. It is my favorite movie, and there is nothing quite like your straight guy friend shaving his beard and legs and showing up in full drag with his wife dressed as Armand with a (fake) mustache and everything. We finished our trio of movie-themed parties the following year with Harry Potter. Now that we’ve moved, it’ll take a moment to settle in but you can be sure we’ll throw another one eventually!

    • Can I just expand on my first comment by saying that a bunch of queer folks dressed up as construction workers and a big suggestion box where you can put ideas for improving your community and country could be a thing because because?

  12. A) I love themed parties B) I’m so here for parties that celebrate building the USA you want to see and that could be a theme? C) I’m legit crying bc I love Autostraddle and 😭

  13. As a kid my mother would go all-out for our themed birthdays. As an adult, I really miss the fun little surprises that attention to a theme can bring. Our local aquarium put on a drag show and the queens who decided to go with an animal or undersea routine were my absolute favorites, and the dolphin headdress of the MC was glorious!

    ps. not related to the thread, but not sure what else I can do to make sure Autostraddle sees this: are you going to make an editorial comment on why you removed the ecosexual article? Saw it was deleted a few days ago, but I’m still hoping for more than a ‘sweep it under the rug’ approach from my fave magazine…

  14. I’m in a clinical psych doctoral program. The dissertation part sucks- my 1st draft is due on pride weekend-homophobic! But we just had a phobia theme party where everyone dressed up as their fear.

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