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Elizabeth Hirst

Five Horror Novels that Move Beyond the ‘Bury Your Gays’ Trope

It took me years to own my bisexuality. It also took me years to come to terms with my love of horror, for similar reasons. I come from a family harbouring a congenital obsession with a certain cartoon mouse and his media empire, and so my love of all things dark and gothic was not always well understood—even after The Nightmare Before Christmas gave me an outlet. Over the years, writing became my way of dealing with my difference, my stories stashed in hidden notebooks. I have become passionate about the ways dark and brutal stories can reach out to people in the depths of trauma and show them others have been there and that there are ways to cope, and maybe even a way out. I am excited by the opportunity to tell stories that would make another person feel less alone when things seem darkest.

In the past, horror authors often ‘buried their gays’, a practice that dooms queer characters or their partners to die by the end of the story. Think of homoerotic vampires such as Dracula or Carmilla, or the madness and suicide of Nell, Shirley Jackson’s queer-coded protagonist in The Haunting of Hill House. The genre’s high body count has made the death trope pervasive, but horror also has wonderful elements of the Gothic, which delights in the spaces between set categories, including gender and sexuality. As I learned all those years ago scribbling in my notebooks, horror allows us to safely explore our fears, and by doing so, put them behind us. Below, you’ll find five of my favourite horror novels which move beyond burying queer characters and into original narratives that are chilling in all the best ways.

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Series: Five Books About…

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