It can be argued that few things have had the kind of cultural impact on the childhoods and development of the millennial generation as Harry Potter.
And while the fantasy series may not connect with someone who didn't grow up with Harry, many people -- especially queer people -- found solace, refuge and strength in the pages of J.K. Rowling's seven-book masterpiece during some of their darkest hours of adolescence.
Nearly a decade following the release of the series' final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, much of the initial Potter fanbase have or are cresting into full-fledged adulthood -- and reflecting on the significance of the wizarding world's impact on the person they have become today.
This includes Brooklyn-based party production duo The Culture Whore, whose 2015 Halloween event, "Chamber of Secrets," will explore the nuances of the inherent queerness of Harry Potter, as well as question the role fear plays in the context of our nature as human beings.
The Huffington Post talked with Mark Dommu and Paul Leopold, the creative team behind The Culture Whore, about their vision for "Chamber of Secrets" and the significant role Harry Potter played for so many of us as we came to fully understand our own personal sense of queerness.
The Huffington Post: What, in your minds, is so inherently queer about Harry Potter?
Mark Dommu: Harry Potter is such a queer narrative. A boy grows up in a family that doesn’t understand him, always feeling different, and then he finds out there’s something weird and special about him that sets him apart from the rest of the world. He joins this secret society that celebrates Otherness, where everyone wears capes all the time. What’s more queer then that? Harry Potter is so much about chosen families, which are a huge part of so many of our queer identities. And I don’t know if you heard, but Dumbledore is a such a bossy bottom.
Why do you think Harry Potter played such a special and pivotal role in the development of so many of us as queer people?
Dommu: Harry Potter made us feel less alone, and made it OK for us to be weird little faggots and queers growing up. Because Harry Potter was about celebrating what made you different, and that is what queerness is all about: taking the thing that sets you apart from the rest of the world and turning it into the thing that empowers you.
Why do you think so many of us enjoy being scared? How will this be integrated at "Chamber of Secrets"?
Paul Leopold: People like being scared because it reminds us that we're alive. We can appreciate our humanity most in opposition to death. Fear is the feeling that everything might fall apart at any moment. Maybe we like that feeling because it's true? Especially in Autumn, the world is literally falling apart, and our emotional consciousness appreciates the beauty of entropy.
At first thought, Harry Potter may seem silly and fun, but any of us who've dived deep into these stories know that the wizarding world of Harry Potter is terrifying and dark. Poor Harry can never live an innocent child's life because he is inextricably linked to the monster that haunts him. The Chamber of Secrets is a particularly good story to explore fear because as Harry discovers He Who Shall Not Be Named's hidden temple, Harry is forced to confront his own dark side. It becomes apparent that the forces that frighten him are not outside of him, but rather a part of him.
The idea that the things we fear are not distant enemies, but rather hidden parts of ourselves is something we hope party goers will meditate on as they wander through our dark haunted house labyrinth, encounter strange costumes and dance in the foggy flash of lights and sounds.
How does Chamber of Secrets fit into the larger lexicon of events produced by The Culture Whore?
Dommu & Leopold: Our Halloween event is usually the cheesiest party of the year where we lean into the irreverent, pop cultural-trolling aspect of what TCW does. We grew up together with Harry, so we have a deep connection to the symbols in the stories. When we did Hogwartz Rave in 2013, it was incredible to see our fantasy come alive. There’s an electrifying feeling when you dress up and participate in a collective dream. That’s what we always ask of our crowd. But obviously around Halloween, around a theme with such strong iconography, the potential for transcendence is high.
What do you want people to take away from "Chamber of Secrets"?
Dommu: I hope people take away that desire to pay homage to the things we loved as children, and how they helped shape who we’ve become.
Leopold: I want people to feel like they went on a journey, like they hit their head and woke up wondering what is real. It’s Halloween week, the spirits are lurking, things are getting spooky, let us help set the mood…
"The Chamber of Secrets" will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24 in Brooklyn. Head here for more information. Want to see more from The Culture Whore? Check out the slideshow below for images from past events, several courtesy of Tinker Coalescing.