Queen of Halloween, Elvira, also known as actor Cassandra Peterson, revealed in her memoir that she's had a secret relationship with a woman for nearly two decades.
She described how she met her now-partner of 19 years, Teresa Wierson — whom she calls "T" — at Gold's Gym in Hollywood, according to the Advocate.
“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.”
She realized later, upon meeting Wierson in the locker room, that she was a woman, and they became friends, according to the Advocate.
When Wierson and her then-partner split up, she turned up on Peterson's doorstep with "no place to go," according to Entertainment Weekly. The two lived together as friends, and Peterson said she “began to feel happier” than she had in years.
She wrote that her feelings for Wierson changed when they went out to see a movie together one evening. When they returned home, Peterson wrote, “I told her goodnight and suddenly felt compelled to kiss her — on the mouth,” according to Entertainment Weekly.
“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.”
They fell in love and have been together for the last 19 years. In an interview with The Orange County Register, Peterson described her sexuality as fluid and said that she's still attracted to men, too.
She wrote in the book that she kept their relationship a secret due to fears that it would affect her career and the Elvira brand, which is built largely on the character's sex appeal and attraction to men.
“So I worried that if I announced I was no longer living the ‘straight life,’ my fans would feel lied to, call me a hypocrite, and abandon me,” she wrote, according to Entertainment Weekly.
But she's glad she no longer feels like she has to hide.
“Keeping a secret doesn’t feel good,” Peterson told The Orange County Register. “I’m glad to have it out there. I mean, it does worry me. I have moments where I go, ‘Maybe people won’t like me anymore’ and ‘Maybe I won’t get work anymore.’ It’s ridiculous to think that, but I have friends who are gay and have come out of the closet and it affected their work, relationships and their life. So it’s not so far-fetched to be worried. But on the other side of that, it’s so draining keeping it a secret. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for us. It sucks the energy out of you.”
Elvira has long been considered a gay icon, and Peterson is also know as an LGBTQ ally. She started her career as a drag queen in a nightclub in Colorado and was also the front-woman of an all-gay male band, the South Florida Gay News reported in 2012. She was also a guest judge on "RuPaul's Drag Race" in 2019.
LGBTQ people celebrated her coming out on social media.
"my girlfriend was explaining something to me and i immediately cut her off to say 'Elvira's gay,'" tweeted The Gay Chingy.
"Elvira really said "And in case you needed to hear it again, horror IS queer," wrote Brandon Trush.
"Lil Nas X dropping a cover of Jolene the same hour we find out Elvira's been in a 19 year long relationship with another woman this is such a huge win for gays everywhere," said one person.
"elvira is queer………… god is real," wrote Kristen Arnett.
@larsadamms tweeted, "'elvira has a butch wife who is her personal trainer 'cresting the stormy hellscape of 2021 like jesus calmly walking across the sea."
Though Peterson didn't describe herself as bisexual, some fans have taken her sexual fluidity and attraction to men and women as a "win" for the bi community.
Katie Rife wrote, "She doesn't say how she identifies exactly, but I will take Elvira as a win for spooky bisexuals on this, the spookiest, most bisexual week of the year. Love u mom."
"Elvira coming out as bisexual *during bi week* is the representation we deserve," comedian Lane Moore tweeted.
Peterson wrote in her book that she ultimately came out because she has to live with herself and live her truth, according to the Advocate.
“For the first time in my life, I’m with someone who makes me feel safe, blessed, and truly loved," she wrote.