Elvira Comes Out as Gay: ‘Keeping a Secret Doesn’t Feel Good’
Cassandra Peterson, better known by fans as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, has just dropped a major truth bomb on
Cassandra Peterson, better known by fans as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, has just dropped a major truth bomb on fans. The beloved horror and beauty icon, who has long been celebrated as a flag-bearer of the LBGTQ community, has just shared in her new memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memories of the Mistress of the Dark, that she herself is in fact a member of that community. Peterson revealed in a new memoir that she is gay, and has been in a relationship with a woman for 19 years now. It’s the revelation heard ’round the world as fans celebrate her authenticity and bravery for revealing a long-held secret.
Elvira Reveals Two-Decade Secret
Per NBC, “‘Often, when I was doing my preworkout warm-up on the treadmill, I couldn’t help noticing one particular trainer — tan, tattooed, and muscular — stalking across the gym floor, knit cap pulled so low over his long brown hair that it nearly covered his eyes,’ she wrote in her memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memories of the Mistress of the Dark, which debuted Tuesday. ‘Dark and brooding, he gave off such intense energy that when he crossed the enormous gym floor, the waters parted and people stopped in their tracks to stare.’”
That’s how the next chapter in her life would start, but Peterson didn’t know it at the time. It turned out that brooding, captivating man that kept capturing Peterson’s attention wasn’t a man at all – she was Teresa “T” Wierson. Peterson realized she was a woman when they encountered one another in the locker room, and they became fast friends.
That friendship grew when Wierson ended up on Peterson’s doorstep with no place to go after a breakup with a previous partner. And things took a turn after one trip to the movies for the friends; Peterson felt compelled to kiss Wierson on the lips. NBC adds, “‘I think I was even more surprised,’ Peterson wrote. ‘What the hell was I doing? I’d never been interested in women as anything other than friends. I felt so confused. This just wasn’t me! I was stunned that I’d been friends with her for so many years and never noticed our chemistry. I soon discovered that we connected sexually in a way I’d never experienced.’”
From there, they began a 19-years-and-counting relationship that Peterson kept closely under wraps. So why would an icon so vital to the LGBTQ community keep her own queer relationship under wraps? According to Peterson, who also is attracted to men still, she was worried that it would ruin her career and the Elvira brand.
But Peterson is done living life on mute; she’s living out loud now. The stunning 70-year-old says in her memoir on deciding to come out, per CNN, “‘I’m very aware that there will be some who will be disappointed and maybe even angry, but I have to live with myself, and at this point in my life, I’ve got to be truthful about who I am.’
‘For the first time in my life I’m with someone who makes me feel safe, blessed, and truly loved,’ she wrote.”
Elvira Has Long Been a Gay Icon
So where is Elvira’s place in the LGBTQ community now that she herself is a member? Let’s take a look back at how Elvira – the peak horror queen of the male gaze – became such an important person in the LGBTQ community and where she fits in now.
The Elvira brand burst onto the scenes in the early ’80’s, with Elvira’s Movie Macabre. Although the show was perhaps hokey, definitely flirty, and horror-niche, Elvira and Peterson became a household name before long. The Elvira brand became known for its over-the-top femme representation, along the same lines as what drag queens portray, and her close friendship with world famous drag queen, RuPaul helped initiate her into the LGBTQ community. Peterson appeared on multiple RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes as a guest judge because of the pair’s friendship, cementing her even more firmly in the community. Peterson also helmed a Fox show called, “The Search For the Next Elvira,” boldly including two drag queens on the panel of judges, somewhat of a pioneer event back in 2008.
So with a history of pro-LGBTQ involvement and the loving embrace of drag queens and queer people everywhere as a gay icon, where does that leave Peterson today? It leaves her welcomed enthusiastically into their ranks officially. All across the internet, fans are celebrating Peterson’s revelation, saying it’s almost too good to be true that their beloved Elvira is one of them. It’s evident that long-time fans feel seen and heard anew in Peterson’s coming out.
Lil Nas X, JoJo Siwa, and Other LGBTQ Trailblazers
It shows again the value of famous people coming out as LBGTQ community members. Any time a star comes out, you’ll see a parade of people wondering why it matters, who cares, why do we need to know. The proof is in the pudding; every time a star comes out, people in the marginalized LGBTQ community feel just a little more seen. They feel just a little more accepted. After all, if a huge star like Lil Nas X is openly out as gay, they’re one step closer to being accepted by society as a whole, right?
Unfortunately, it’s still an uphill battle in many parts of the world, especially those most closely tied with fundamentalist religions. But stars like JoJo Siwa coming out is slowly changing the landscape, one person at a time. People might not have gay friends in their personal life – or know that they do, at any rate – but everyone knows a star who is gay, someone whose work they’ve enjoyed or related to. It’s all part of the overall sense of a growing community and enhanced visibility.
Peterson, at 70, could probably have lived the rest of her life in the closet. Her bravery and choice to come forward is resonating well with fans who have loved her for decades – and they’re saying, “Welcome, we’ve been waiting for you.”