For the first 28 years of my life, I was in denial of who I really was. I’d been attracted to people of my own gender since I was a little boy, but for years, I did everything in my power to muffle those feelings, to conceal my true identity out of fear that I’d be rejected by my loved ones and by society. But that all changed in 1984, when, on a whim, I decided to attend a screening of the action film Ghostbusters, where a fluorescent homosexual beast named Slimer oozed onto the screen and gave me the courage to be myself for the very first time.
If you’re unfamiliar, Slimer is a green, hairless teenager from space who loves eating garbage and is unabashed in his gayness. He flies around leaking his festive sour discharge wherever he goes, flaunting his queer identity—a kind of openness that, as a young man, I’d never before encountered.
When I first saw Slimer in Ghostbusters back in 1984, he was being chased by the film’s titular mercenaries, who were trying to capture him in a ghost cage. He was just out there, caroming naked and carefree through the halls of a fancy hotel, making no effort to cloak his homosexuality from a world that was hostile toward his lifestyle. He was so sassy and fearless! Instead of hiding or surrendering, he chose to confront his pursuers head-on, dousing one of the Ghostbusters in his lovely bodily gravy.
…if Slimer could exhibit such confidence and strength at a time like that, then I could, at the very least, start being honest with myself about my own sexuality.
It was so inspiring to see someone gay like me putting himself on full display like that, especially since this was at the peak of the AIDS panic. For this glowing, wailing orb to simply be himself in a culture with so much anti-homosexual hysteria, it must’ve taken an unfathomable amount of bravery. It made me want to be brave. Surely, if Slimer could exhibit such confidence and strength at a time like that, then I could, at the very least, start being honest with myself about my own sexuality.
I was finally able to begin a process of inward acceptance, no longer trying to suppress the homosexual urges of my biological reality. But unlike the viscous, green power bottom who inspired me, I was still afraid to come out of the closet. Luckily, it wasn’t too much longer before Ghostbusters II came out, followed by a variety of Ghostbusters animated series. And whether he was on TV or the big screen, Slimer was always simply being himself—merrily devouring trash when there was plenty of normal food available, wildly spraying his private syrup at the slightest provocation, and, of course, being brazenly, unapologetically gay. Watching him emboldened me in ways I never thought possible, and eventually, I could no longer justify the lie I was living.
So, I came out of the closet.
Coming out to my parents was the hardest. I knew it’d be difficult for them to accept, but I also knew that their disapproval was a small price to pay if I could have the kind of freedom and unadulterated joy that Slimer had. As I anticipated, they weren’t very accepting at first. But with time, I started showing them different Ghostbusters shows and movies so that they could see Slimer for themselves and realize that there was nothing wrong with being gay, and ultimately, they came to understand me and love me for who I really am.
And who am I? I am a human being. Yes, I happen to be gay, but as Slimer showed me, that doesn’t make me inferior to anyone in any way. It makes me unique, and it makes me proud. Thirty-two years ago, I opened my heart to slime, and I’ve been happy ever since. And if you haven’t already, I’d strongly encourage you to do the same.