All of life involves wearing masks—to hide our emotions, to shield our vulnerable identities, to get through the day, to survive in an intolerant world, and to imagine ourselves as something other than what we are. Faked orgasms. Compliments for a moldering Jell-O salad. Makeup over a bruise. Disguises are a crucial element of life. And there is a moment of dissonance, of terror, shock, and perhaps also relief, when we lift our disguises and show the world who and what we really are.
2017 has been a unique year for revealing true character. A year of ripping the mask off the American charade that many of us lived under. This October, The Rumpus is exploring the theme of “Hiding in Plain Sight” and we want all your essays about disguises. We want to know about your elaborate clothes and make up routines and how they help you navigate the world. We want to know about the masks you wear and the moments that you’ve ripped them off to reveal what’s underneath. We want to hear about the murderer next door who seemed so normal. The partner caught in lies. The atheist who attends Catholic church. The moment you came out. When you stopped putting up with bullshit, stopped pretending. When you called someone out as a Nazi. The moment when the jig was up. And, of course, what came next.
You can check out work from our previous themed month, July 2017, when we did our best to reclaim patriotism. Word count between 1500-4000. Email completed submissions to [email protected] (pitches will not be considered). Submissions close September 22.
Image credit: Konstantin Somov.