Not Alone

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I was single when I was introduced to Maddie in an LGBT networking event on campus. I was in the middle of studying for three back-to-back finals then, and she was a business graduate student. I noticed her immediately; she was tall, with long blond hair tied into a ponytail and bright blue eyes that appeared to light up the room. I stared at her from a safe distance, and after a lot of convincing from my friend (and maybe some liquid courage) I positioned myself in her space and after introductions, we gave each other our numbers.
I saw her again later that evening (or night rather, it was around 8 or 9 pm). The friend I went with had already started to head home. Being the only familiar person left, she walked up and we talked for a while. One thing seemed to lead to another, and pretty soon I heard myself (I felt like I was having an out of body experience) inviting her to my dorm.
 She smelled really nice, that much I could remember. Anything else I don’t because apparently, I fell asleep while she was talking.
(I was cramming around 300 pages of tiny text every day. I swore I was just going to close my eyes for a few seconds.)
So anyway, long story short, I woke up to a bright morning light coming through the thin university-issue curtains, and I saw her sitting across from me on my black chair a few feet away from where I was lying on the couch. I immediately realized that I had fallen asleep, and I apologized while feeling extremely embarrassed. She smiled at me and told me she didn’t mind. She said that she was glad that I didn’t talk that much before falling asleep.
 
With anyone else, I would have laughed out loud because that sounded so cheesy, but somehow she managed to pull it off. I felt like I was falling in love with her already.
I asked her if I could make her anything to eat for breakfast. She said that it was already a little past lunchtime. I checked my watch and saw that it was already 1:30pm. My face turned a bright red. This whole situation was just so mortifying.
So we walked down to her car, and headed to Tyler Mall and grabbed lunch at one of the small restaurants there. She was extremely easygoing and really charming such that the whole date (was it a date?) passed by in a very comfortable and relaxed way. It was getting fairly late in the afternoon before I realized how much time had passed without me realizing. I told her that I needed to study for my classes because midterms were right around the corner, and she said that she understood. She drove me back to my dorm and hugged me goodbye.
On the way back to my dorm, she asked me quite bluntly if what had happened between us (or not happened) was a one time deal, or if I had wanted to see if I wanted to take our date to the next level. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t how to explain how to explain that she was too good for me and that I didn’t feel like I deserved her. Or that even though I thought she was amazing I didn’t think I wanted anything more. She was amazing, but at the time, I wasn’t ready for anybody to be in my life. And after getting to know her, I didn’t want to lie to her and lead her on. I didn’t want to be “that person” in her life who lied to her about what I was looking for in a relationship.
And for whatever reason, I told her all of that. She said she understood.
***
I saw her again about a year later during another event campus. As things would have it, we were both still single, and she was still as pretty as I had remembered. I asked her how she was doing, and she said that her friends had asked her to move to New York to start a small business with them. She had thought about it and decided it was worth a chance. I told her that I was happy for her, and I truly was. She deserved to be happy and achieve her dreams. We talked some more, and it was as if we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a long time, not strangers who had one date and (almost) a one night stand.
She asked me if I had come with anyone. I said that I had come with a friend, but she had left. She met with someone that she knew from another event, and they had gone somewhere else. I told Maddie that I was alone at this event, which was kind of lame and pathetic. And she told me “Of course you’re not alone. You’re here, with me.”
I smiled at her and forced myself to looked away. To this day I’ll never know how she managed to pull off these cheesy lines.
It’s been almost three years since I’ve met Maddie, but I never saw her again. But to me, she will always be that girl who reminded me that I was not alone.
 

Coming Out

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The process of “coming out” as LGBT is an extremely personal act, but of course, in many countries around the world, including the United States, it is a political one as well.

My life would honestly be much easier if I just shut up about my sexuality. If I just stop talking about how much I liked girls, or grew my hair out to an “acceptable” length for a girl, or just stopped. And to be honest, I exhibit enough heteronormative traits to pass myself off as a straight woman (if I grew my hair out of course). But whenever I think about just making my life easier and pass myself off as someone straight, I remember myself in middle school, a scrawny 12-year-old girl with braces and headgear.

I remember being bullied for being that “lesbo” or “gay”. I have had the words “fag” been thrown at me. I have had food thrown in my direction at the cafeteria, and I’ve been thrown against the wall while walking down the hallway. I remember feeling completely and utterly alone, not daring to tell my best friend or my parents what was going on at school. Because, in my mind, being that “lesbo” meant not having any friends or people who care about you. I remember wanting to die before I let anybody find out that I wanted to spend my life with another girl instead of a guy.

As I remember my experiences before I came out, I try to be as visible as I possibly can because I know from personal experience that I would have vastly appreciated (as someone who didn’t even realize I was gay) to see someone like me own her sexuality and live life that was not in denial. I would have loved to see someone live without fear of judgement from others.

So a bit of advice for the young LGBT people out there, whether you have realized your own truth yet or not: your sexuality does not own you, nor does it define you. I’m 22 now, and I’ve been where you are right now. I remember being scared and calling my best friend in the middle of the night and telling her that I was gay while crying and (literally) shaking with fear of how she would react. The LGBT community is blessed with some of the most creative minds in the world, but we are also bankers, athletes, lawyers, doctors, scientist, farmers, and much more. LGBT people are everywhere, and we can be anyone.

So, at the end of the day, remember this: you can be anyone you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise based off of nothing but this one trait.

Performance Art

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I’ll put this out there: I’m not good with kids. If you leave me around with a kid for more than half an hour, that is a minor inconvenience to me. If you leave two kids or more with me, then you either hate your kids or you hate me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. I really do, it’s just that I’m not good at dealing with them in a mature manner. I’d make the worst parent because I don’t have the nerve to say “no” to them or do what has to be done. And speaking of that, teenagers? Don’t even go there with me. If you think I’m bad with little kids you should see me try to deal with a teenager. It’s a joke.

 

But kids are great when they’re supervised by their parents or if they are with a nanny. In that situation, they can be pretty entertaining and I can put up with them. Put that kid in a public situation with people they don’t know and you get double the entertainment. That’s your entertainment for the night.

 

Marina Abramovic once said that performance art was all about context and that the context of what you do is different in a museum than out in the real world. For example, if you bake bread in a museum, it is considered art, but if you do the same exact thing at home, you’re just baking bread. Children have no sense of what “context” really means, which makes them the best performance artists in the world.

 

I was running around the track with the kid of one of my friends when she says to me “My mom told me that you’re different from other people.” “I…uh…hmmm.” “She says it’s okay to be gay. Are you single?” “I….um…….no…uh.”

 

I have another theory. I once read some commentary about what art should mean (I read this in a required reading for one of the classes that I took while in college). The author, who was quite prominent in the art community in San Francisco, said that “good” art should be disruptive; in other words, the goal of “good” art should disrupt people’s perceived idea of what “reality” means to them. I wanted to see if the author had kids because if that was true, then kids would fulfill that purpose to a T.

 

To back this up, I would like to bring up an example. I was celebrating my birthday with a few friends in West Hollywood. I have friends of all ages: those old enough to be my parents to those just entering college. One of my friends brought her two children with her: one son and one daughter: the son was two years old and the daughter was 7 months. If there were ever an embodiment of hyperactive energy and restlessness, it was these two children. In the restaurant that we were in, there were several other large tables with people focused on their own events.

 

 Now, the two-year-old boy decided he wanted to run around all over, and my friend, after half an hour of running after him and trying to get him to settle down, gave up and thought that it would be best to just let him run until he was tired. This situation was already bad enough, but then the 7-month-old little girl decided that this would be an appropriate place to practice these bloodcurdling screams that she was passing off as human conversation. It felt excruciating. My friend tried to have her stop but this kid just wouldn’t stop screaming. When I looked over at the other table I saw the disapproving stare of a teen. I gave her a fake smile and pretended that having a screaming kid at your lunch table was the most normal thing possible. Disruptive indeed.

This Way, Not That: A Letter to My Mom

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I remember sitting in the car with you, and you were talking about my future, and how you wanted me to be this way, not that. What you meant by these phrases, you never fully explained, but I remember you putting your point across by flipping your hand back and forth. And that flip-flop of your hand spoke louder than words to me, because in that one clumsy gesture with the flick of your wrist, you summarized to me what it meant to be gay.

And I remember feeling awful for both of us, and how difficult it must have been for you to even broach this subject considering the fact that you couldn’t even say the word out loud. So instead of saying it, you flipped your hand over and over again, knowing that I would know what you were talking about, because I knew where you were going with this conversation, and because I knew your daughter.

Maybe you couldn’t say the word out loud because saying them would make it true. And I know that to this day, you want so much for the opposite to be true. Maybe you regret ever bringing the topic up in the first place, like ignoring the problem would have kept the issue away.

I also remember not knowing what to say, or whether or not I should lie to you, someone that I’ve never lied to before.

So I decided to say nothing. As you were talking, I wanted to hold your hand and say to you that your daughter would turn out to be more than just okay, she is a caring, decent, thoughtful human who is in the process of possibly becoming a fine adult, and that this, the word that you couldn’t even make yourself say, it doesn’t matter because it shouldn’t matter. In the grand scheme of things, it is a defining attribute but is also the least important attribute your daughter has been blessed with.

And I also wanted to say that I know you are worried about her because she lives in a society where there are people who would think of her as abnormal and weird, for something that she has no control over and that differentiates her from the majority of the population. And that worry you have only comes from your love, but that it doesn’t change the fact that your daughter would rather have you support her because, at the end of it all, it is only when she accepts herself for who she is, and when the people she loves accepts her, will she be truly happy with her life.

And I wanted to say that you did not make a mistake with parenting, that you did not do something “wrong” to make your daughter feel “that way” about girls, and that she is simply who she is.

But instead, I remained silent. Because, to this day, you would rather believe a lie than to hear the truth about your own child. Your only child.

And so we continue to live our lives, my thoughts a blur, you in your seat worrying what you did wrong to make your daughter go “wrong”. Yes, the world can be a terrifying place to live in, but it is even more so when the people who claim to love you the most are the first to reject you for the person you are.

What It’s Like to Fall In Love

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First step. The two of you meet and it’s amazing. There’s lots of conversations and laughing with each other and it seems like there’s no end. She’ll spend all night with you and the two of you talk until the sun rises. You two talk until there’s no talk left. You two talk until both of you are struggling to keep your eyes open. And after that you two talk some more.

Second step. She’ll leave in the morning and you realize how much you miss her. You’ll pick her shirt up from your bed and breathe deeply. It smells like her perfume mixed with the lotion she likes so much along with her natural smell. Your foot begins to tap as you count the hours, minutes, seconds until you get to see her again.

Third step. You sit throughout dinner staring at her. You stare at her as her eyes light up when she tells you the story of how her sorority sister did something silly on pledge week. You watch her lips move and curl as she talks, only thinking about how it would feel to kiss her again. She stops talking and you panic for a second. Did she ask you a question that you didn’t hear? You were too busy daydreaming about her lips again. In an effort to cover up your mistake, you nod and say something like, “Yeah, that sounded like it was fun.” She nods with a smile and continues with her story. Phew. You’ve dodged a bullet to daydream another day.

Fourth step. You’re hanging out with friends and you tune out of the conversation. In your mind, you’re playing a game with yourself as you try to remember what she looks like. You will close your eyes and remember the patterns you traced on her skin, her face when she’s still sleeping, the stray strand of hair on her face. You’ll think about how her arms would feel when you’re tired and she cuddles you. Your friends get up and you guys move along to the next destination. You’re so hopeless. At this point you’re not even pretending to pay attention to what’s going on. You stalk her Instagram. You scroll all the way back to see what she looked like three years ago. You accidentally double tap and see the heart symbol appear over a selfie she took in her dorm room. You don’t hit unlike.

Fifth step. You come home from work. You go into the bathroom and stare at her towel and toothbrush. You make your bed and wait for her to come home from work. She takes longer than usual today. You go back to the restroom and pick up her shirt. Her scent is mostly gone but it sort of lingers in your nose. You hear her knocking on your door. You run across the living room to see her. You open the door and pretend to be tired. She asks, Did you miss me. Eh, a little. This entire time you are staring at her and the way her lips move as she talks, and that blouse that you know will smell like her for the rest of the day.

Why Pizza Is Not Important

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I was drinking a raspberry vodka cocktail on the patio of a fairly popular bar in West Hollywood when I was introduced by a friend to RJ. At the time, I was with my friend Sarah, who knew RJ because they had met at a party a few months ago. We made small talk, and because I was somewhat drunk, I flirted a bit and hoped I came off as charming. I thought she was extremely attractive so I asked her for her number. She gave it to me and made me promise to text her later.

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First Date

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Let me tell you a story of a girl I once dated. Her name was Kristie, a part time gym instructor who worked at the gym that I went to every day. It was a date that I was definitely excited for; I found her attractive, and it seemed like she seemed nice, but apart from that, I knew nothing about her at all. For all I knew, she could be a horrible person, but again, she seemed like a pretty cool person. I texted her, and we agreed to have dinner at a local sports bar near campus.

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Missed Opportunities

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My first adventure towards dating in college was through this online chatroom. To summarize how this website worked, it was basically a chatroom where you could chat with the profile that you liked. Basically anyone could put personal descriptions on the home page, and if you liked someone based on her description of herself, you could just shoot her a message. If she accepted your chat request, then the two of you can chat privately. If the two of you agree that you liked each other, the next step would be trading pictures, and then finally make plans to meet in real life.

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Trading Up

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Over coffee in a popular part of town in downtown Arcadia, Madison told me a story that touched on an aspect of dating which those of us who have been around the dating game for a bit could probably relate to. This story revolved around another friend of hers named Abby, who we viewed as a successful person (or at least as successful as you can be for someone who just graduated college). She, like so many of us, was looking for the love of her life. At some point, she was going out with someone by the name of Jonathon. From the looks of everything, it seemed as if they got along great; their personalities seemed to match, and they enjoyed being around one another. In terms of the relationship itself, or at least how they talked to and behaved around one another, it seemed like they didn’t have any problems.

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