The Satanic Panic almost perfectly coincides with former-President Reagan’s term, beginning in 1980 and dying out by the early 1990s while Reagan’s presidency lasted from 1981 to 1989. While Reagan himself did not acknowledge the moral panic, he created the perfect conditions for it and knew how to champion himself as its hero.
Illustrated by Steph Liu (She/Her) This illustration was originally published in our Fall 2022 print issue “Satanic Panic.“
Her shoulders drooped with the weight of her Catholic guilt as the statue of white Jesus stared down at her, telling her, I know what you’ve done. His dark eyes seemed to be in perpetual melancholy as her own peered into them. That statue always scared her, always seemed to follow her home from church; it was the first thing she’d see in her grandmother’s kitchen, a miniature version of the statue hung up in her room right in front of the doorway. She had always accepted that Jesus would be a permanent part of her life, just as she had accepted that she bore responsibilities, as the eldest daughter and the first grandchild, to fall in line with what her family expected from her..
On March 26th, 2021, Lil Nas X dropped “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” the lead single for his album “MONTERO” and a passionate declaration of queer love and desire. The single by itself would likely have received a largely positive reaction, as Lil Nas X already had considerable recognition. However, “MONTERO”’s music video featured Lil Nas X as an angel who rides down a pole from Heaven to Hell and gives the Devil a lapdance.
In the broader scheme of American history, the Satanic Panic was one of many moral panics that got mainstream culture whipped up into a frenzy about the supposed threatened integrity of the ideals they held near and dear to their hearts. These moral panics were often a misdirected reaction to underlying issues; the public’s reaction to this was often to scapegoat other groups to deflect from the true cause of these issues. In America during the 1980s, the sexual abuse of children was finally being confronted after years of being ignored; and the public’s response to that frightening prospect was to turn to an equally frightening cause (to deflect from the more uncomfortable idea that it was really people they knew and trusted that were sexually abusing their children): Satanists.
Created by Zoë Collins This collage was originally published in our Fall 2022 print issue “Satanic Panic.“
I have this dream of dying in complete silence, and when the neighbors call to complain about the smell a few days later (and the firemen kick the door in), they’ll find my mother sitting calmly at the dining room table, knife in hand around a halo of sunburnt faces cutting branches from the family tree
In 1977, orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant campaigned against a new anti-discrimination law protecting gay men and lesbians in Dade County, Florida. She had it overturned and riding on the wave of this success, started Save Our Children, the United States’ first national anti gay group.
I wish I could welcome you with nothing but vigorous optimism, but the precariousness of my community’s position in this country is too important to be waved away. As a historical queer publication, it is our responsibility to make sure the most marginalized do not go unnoticed. The theme of our Fall 2022 print edition is Satanic Panic, named after the hysteria of the late 20th century that cast a dangerous shadow over queer people everywhere.