LGBTQ Pride Month

How Unexpected Gay Icon 'The Babadook' Is Helping Raise Money For The LGBTQ Community

The horror film is returning to the big screen.

The Babadook's status as a gay icon has inspired one Los Angeles movie theater to raise money for the LGBTQ community — while offering the public some big screen scares.

In case you didn't know, The Babadook is a critically acclaimed Australian horror film, directed by Jennifer Kent and first released in 2014. It tells the story of a widowed mother and her troubled son, who are terrorized by the title monster, who first appears in a children's book. The character has become ubiquitous during Pride Month as an unexpected symbol for the LGBTQ community.

In response to this phenomenon, Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood has announced that it will screen the film for five days this month, beginning June 23. According to the theater's website, proceeds from the screenings will support "LGBTQ Awareness." There will also be a discussion about the title creature's place as a "cultural icon," and fans are invited to cosplay the character at a karaoke party.

So how did a demon in a top hat become a gay icon? It's an interesting story.

It began as a joke on Tumblr, where a user named Ian sparked a conversation about the Babadook being "openly gay" that led to more than 100,000 notes. Another user posted a (reportedly edited) screenshot of the film in the LGBT section on Netflix. The memes eventually spread to other social media platforms, and by June, countless Babadook-themed signs and costumes could be seen at Pride events around the country.

However, what began as a funny meme has actually led to serious discussion about the Babadook as a representation of the LGBTQ experience — with varying interpretations.

"He lives in a basement, he's weird and flamboyant, he's living adjacently to a single mother in this kind of queer kinship structure," University of Souther California professor Karen Tongson told the L.A. Times. And as the article points out, although the film's mother and son are initially afraid of the Babadook, they eventually learn to accept him.

"For many LGBT people, that's what it feels like to be in your own families sometimes," Tongson explained.

Harvard professor Michael Bronski, meanwhile, told the publication of the character's relevance, "In this moment, who better than the Babadook to represent not only queer desire, but queer antagonism, queer in-your-faceness, queer queerness?"

Watch the trailer for The Babadook below:

(H/T: The Wrap)

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