When Sam was three, he was a fairy for Halloween. The pink gossamer wings on his back didn’t stand out as much as the sparkly tiara on his head, so many trick-or-treaters mistook him for royalty. “What a pretty princess,” they’d say as they placed candy in his tiny palm. “I’m not a princess,” Sam snarled back, “I’m a fairy!”
The funny thing was, no one considered that he might be a boy.
The next year, Sam was a character he made up—Gabriella Kitty Witch—his costume comprised of a purple lace dress, black pointed witch hat, and whiskers penciled on his cheeks. When he was five, he was a queen, regal in a burgundy velvet dress, holding a golden scepter. Last year, Sam startled us by wanting to be Luke Skywalker. Given that I’d never seen him express interest in a masculine costume, I really didn’t know what to think—except that Halloween is a time for experimenting, for being our truest selves or trying on new identities or being things we are not.
This year, Sam plans to be a vampire.
Each year, pink boys and their families wonder: Who do I want to be? If I dress as I want to, will the kids at school make fun of me? Can—should—we trick or treat somewhere where nobody knows us? There is no right answer; each family has to work out on their own what is tolerable for their family, in their community.
The Onion, America’s favorite satirical news outlet, recently posted a video: “How To Keep Your Fairy Son From Wearing a Girly Halloween Costume.” Because, you know, if we can’t know the answers, at least we can laugh about it.