Welcome to Horror Is So Gay 2: A Queer Sequel

a GIF that says HORROR IS SO GAY 2 in the Stranger Things font in hot pink neon that is moving closer to the screen
I talk about this a lot. I’ve written about it some. It’s something I keep turning over and over, like a kaleidoscope. Or, if we’re staying on theme, like a haunted puzzlebox whose mysteries I’m trying to solve, whose contents might bring forth fresh discoveries, fresh horrors. I hated horror until I didn’t. More specifically, I hated horror until I came out.

Again, I talk about it a lot. It seems too simple almost. I hated horror when I was closeted, and then I came out as a loud and proud dyke and suddenly loved horror, craved it even. Maybe horror was too hard to look at when I was living as someone else. Maybe I had to show up to horror as the real me to really get it, to really let it consume me the way I have over the past decade-ish of my life.

It took me a while to arrive at my love of horror, but once I did, it felt as much a part of me as my queerness. It probably still surprises my family. I had a reputation as a child of being a scaredy cat. I screamed and cried at the annual fireworks show every summer in our neighborhood, terrified of the booms. I thought the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was the scariest movie ever made and carried that particular phobia well into adulthood. Once old enough to stay home alone, I hated to be, especially at night. I told myself my little sister sometimes slept on the floor in my room instead of in her own bed because she was scared, but I know it was also me. Or maybe only me. I was known as a scaredy cat, and so I thought that’s what I had to be, forever and always. In college, I declared to my friends I hated horror, refused to go to the movie theater with them if they wanted to see anything spookier than an action-thriller. Eventually, I made an excuse for Black Swan.

That movie wasn’t the key to unlocking my love of horror but rather just one key on a whole ring of them. It took time, much like it took time to accept the other parts of myself I’d been resistant to.

For much of my life, I never could have imagined I’d be here, doing this, helming a series of queer and trans perspectives on horror for an LGBTQ+ publication. I would have sooner believed in vampires.

Not only that, but I’m here doing it for a second time. The first Horror Is So Gay package brought so many delights and frights, and I’m thrilled to do it again with this sequel. Just like last time, we’ll have a mix of essays, lists, deep dives, retrospectives, and takes hotter than the flames of hell. Horror asks us to imagine strange, monstrous, surreal, twisted, non-normative possibilities and stories. Come imagine with us.

neon letters that read HISG2

Horror Is So Gay is an annual Autostraddle series of queer and trans reflections on horror.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 843 articles for us.


  1. There’s a lot that I love in this intro essay (For reasons I can’t fully explain, this line in particular just knocked me right in the heart: “For much of my life, I never could have imagined I’d be here, doing this, helming a series of queer and trans perspectives on horror for an LGBTQ+ publication. I would have sooner believed in vampires.”)

    But what I’m really here to exclaim about is the fact that the acronym HISG2 absolutely looks like movie title, or like how people write movie titles online, and I am delighted.

  2. Wonderfully put. I too was a scaredy cat as a kid I used to hide my face and knocked into stuff at blockbuster because I saw covers of nightmare before Christmas and thought Jack the skeleton was terrifying. Cue to being a gay teen and loving every bloody horror I could get my hands on

  3. You know, I used to hate horror movies as well, the kind of “I watched The strangers and scared the hell out of me”. But now, every time that I have a bad day, or that I’m sad, I found myself going back to horror movies. They feel like home to me. They make me forget about my real life for almost two hours. And everytime I try to explain this to people they just dont understand

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