In the words of the lesbian poet and scholar Judy Grahn, Halloween is ‘the great gay holiday’.
Before Halloween existed, the night before All Hallows Day (All Saints Day), was linked to the ancient Celtic festival ‘Samhain’ in the British Isles, meaning ‘summer’s end’.
And because the celebration is associated with mystery, magic, superstition, witches and ghosts, the festivity was limited in colonial New England because of its Puritanical belief system.
But today it’s an LGBTQ extravaganza that rivals Pride festivals.
Before June officially became Gay Pride Month, and October Coming Out Month for the LGBTI community, Halloween was unofficially big holiday. This tradition dates back to the 1970s when it was a massive annual street party in San Francisco’s Castro district.
By the 1980s, gay enclaves like Key West, West Hollywood, and Greenwich Village were holding annual Halloween street parties. Those parades the night of Halloween drew straights and gay crowds, as they still do today.
Below is a collection of 20 fun and candid snaps from a queer Halloween party in Sacramento in 1978.