reading the rainbow

How the Babadook Became a Gay Icon

Babadook eye for the straight guy. Photo: Entertainment One/IFC Films

June is the month of Pride and the LGBTQ community has a new queer icon to celebrate: The Babadook.

You may know this Dada-esque mouthful as the title character of the 2014 horror film by Australian director Jennifer Kent. In the movie, the Babadook is a monster that haunts the house of a widow and her 6-year-old son. The father died in a car accident while the mother was in labor, and his death hangs over the family. The son acts out in school, and the mom is beleaguered. At some point, he asks his mom to read this new pop-up book called Mister Babadook that mysteriously appears out of nowhere. That brings in the monster.

Now, a boring heterosexual’s interpretation of The Babadook is that the monster is a devastating manifestation of grief: Even as we learn to survive traumatic loss, it lives on as a part of us. How literal! Meanwhile, gay Twitter and Tumblr advanced a much more elegant theory of the Babadook, which is that he’s a gay man. It all started back in October with this discussion on Tumblr. A true critical tête-à-tête:

Photo: Tumblr
Photo: Tumblr

But in the new year, the theory truly began to take root in the community:

And eventually we claimed the Babadook as our own:

Now, with the arrival of Pride Month, the Babadook has cemented his status as a bona fide icon.

At this point you might be shaking your head, unconvinced that the Babadook deserves to stand alongside Yorkie and Kelly and Nomi Malone. That’s okay, a little skepticism is warranted. But let’s review the evidence:

1. The Babadook prefers dark spaces like closets and basements and comes out of dark recesses.

2. The Babadook wears a long, androgynous coat that a certain type of fashion gay might lust over at Comme des Garcons. (Isn’t it obvious that he’s supposed to be Rick Owens?)

3. He loves a hat. (See No. 2.)

4. As those tumblr kids pointed out all those months ago, he literally wrote a book about himself to start some drama.

The case, it is closed. This year: The B in LGBTQ stands for Babadook. Happy Pride!

How the Babadook Became a Gay Icon