It was the winter break before I turned 18 and I was snowed in. I decided to binge watch Queer As Folk on Netflix, a TV show that chronicles the lives a gay white men living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It seemed for almost every episode that ended up at one of the local gay clubs in the area, this was my true first exposure to gay clubs. I’ve always watched a bunch of ballroom videos where predominately QPOC go to vogue and walk against each other all in good fun. (SEE: Paris is burning) There was something freeing about watching the sea of people on Queer As Folk dancing to the music. Sweaty, shirtless, and unapologetically. This made my excited for when I turned 18 because I wanted to go to a club just like that, with people just. like. me.
So fastward, now it’s spring and its my birthday weekend. I’m super pumped to go to my first gay club. So I freak out about what to wear, I mean the whole idea of the club is to find “someone” right? So I end up wearing these above kneecap shorts with a flannel tied around my waist, ankle high boots and a blue v-cut shirt. I thought I was cute, but also exposed -because for most of my life I’ve benefited from passing privilege – the line for the club was wrapped around the corner, with people of all genders, creed, and binaries waiting to get in. And while I felt at home waiting in line I was also cautious. Because we were outside, still in a hetero-normative environment. Where people like us are shamed for expressing who we are.
So for what seems like an hour and two or three cars staring at us, we finally made it inside the club. The music was blasting, people were sweaty and dancing and no one was judging, or laughing. Being inside the club felt like I was able to get finally get free -after about a few drinks -. It wasn’t like the TV though. It was a lot more diverse, but it wasnt magically like the show, it had its own magic to me. I enjoyed myself, I danced I laughed, I made new friends. Once it was time to go home and the club let everyone out, The smile I had, the joy that was brought to be by the environment was gone, because I knew I was entering into a space that was dominated with beliefs and practices that were against people like me. Which isn’t to say gay clubs are serendipitous, they too come with faults. They too still exemplify and uphold cisheteropartriachal practices at time. However for the most part being in the moment with the thumpa thumpa and people just like me, its a holy feeling, almost like church. Gay spaces are sacred grounds.
Which is to say that the shooting that happened in Orlando was a hate crime. It was him wanted to take away the few resources and spaces we have to call our home. It was his attempt to silence us, take away our happiness. And just to be clear and attack on any gay club is an attack on ALL gay clubs. My heart hurts for those who have loss their lives to such a violent act. This is something I can promise everybody on the spectrum fears. From cis passing white men, to the trans and non binary women of color. Women like Yaz’min Shancez, who were murdered for living their life authentically. This is our reality, this is our struggle. That people like the gunman in Orlando are so homophobic they’ll go to any lengths to harm us.
A lot of talk from the news and media has been saying it has relations to ISIS which I mean, yeah that sounds good if you want to push an anti-Muslim rhetoric to the american people, but we all know thats not true. I just feel like ISIS wouldn’t send someone to shoot up a gay nightclub that seems so left field, I feel like this is something someone who has a personal vendetta or hatred for a group of people would do, to his us where it hurts most during pride month. Just like the gunman who shot up the church. We’ve come so far in the movement for equality and my fear is that this incident will cause us to be pushed back. It will cause many more Americans who were ready to come out the closet to be more reluctant, and I just want to say to anyone who is considering coming out or dealing with anything don’t let this gunman win. Live your life authentically, be happy, get married, love unconditionally.
There isn’t a day that goes by that im afraid someone will decide today will be the day they will harm me because im black, or because im gay (Or because both) but to be afraid, to hide who I am to make someone else comfortable is to give them the power, to give them agency over my life and I don’t wish that for anyone. Lastly, give people time to grieve. Especially family and friends who had loved ones in PULSE, both living and dead. This tragedy hasn’t been easy for them. Do check in with your friends who are LGBTQIA+. Don’t feel like they NEED to talk to you, especially if you’re straight, offer an ear don’t force one. Be careful with what you share on social media, somethings might seem cool or catchy but might be false information or triggering.
I always marveled at rainbows, how even after the worst of storms it shined through.
Peeps ya later
The sunrise had startled the morning out of Jason through his blinds. He arose out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. This morning he brushed his teeth to the rhythm of nothing. The TV was still positioned on the news station however, there was no one there to report. Only a countdown that ran across the screen in a vibrate red color. He had only 14 hours, 35 minutes, and 30…29..28 seconds left to spend with Adriano, who wasn’t in the room. Jason stumbled over the mess in the room to reach his phone that had been vibrating, it was a text from his mom. I just want you to know your father and I always loved you. Feeling a tear develop in his eye Jason tossed his phone across the room. Jason and his parents didn’t have the best relationship once he brought Adriano home, who is his dad had often called a lost dog. The truth Jason came out to his parents at sixteen, three years before he had even brought Adriano home, and his parents weren’t happy with it but they accepted him. It wasn’t until he brought his first boyfriend, Adriano, home did they have a problem with it. Perhaps they thought it was a phase, or that he wasn’t serious. Whatever the case might might have been the month after he turned eighteen his parents kicked both him and Adriano out the house, and he hadn’t heard from his parents since then. Jason grabbed his phone from the floor and deleted the message.
A few moments later Adriano had burst in the room carrying bags and completely out of the breath. “You will not believe the morning I had!” He announced.
Jason jumped off the bed. “Where have you been? Look at the countdown we only 14 hours and 5 minutes later until..” Jason couldn’t bring himself to speak up the inevitable. “We still have a few more things to get done on the bucket list” Jason tossed on a shirt and shorts. “Lets go!”
“Don’t you even wanna know whats in the bags?” Adriano said as he stopped Jason mid-track and gave him a kiss. “This is part of the bucket list” Adriano rips out a handful of pink peeps from the bag. “You said you wanted to do a peep eating contest so lets do it!”
The boys wasted no time and begun empty the bags of peeps, spread out across the bed was a sea of blue, purple, pink and yellows peeps for consumption. Jason laughed. “How did you even get all of these?”
“A lady never shares her secrets.So how are we doing this?”
“Okay, on the count of three we eat one at a time, we just have to make sure we keep track of how many we eat. Lets start with twenty.” The excitement in Jason’s voice spiked. The thought of eating twenty made Adriano barf a little in his mouth, but after all Jason did for him in his life this is the least he could do. He sacrificed everything to make sure Adriano was okay, even rejected his full ride to Pace University. So when Jason reached three the two begun to stuff their faces with peeps.Bite after bite of sugary marshmallows. They ended up completing 5 waves of peep eating. Each eating exactly one hundred. “I think we tied” the statement slid out of Jason’s mouth. Adriano was doubled over in the bathroom facing the toilet.
“Oh god I can’t take it, my stomach.” As adriano announced his pain to the room Jason tossed one more peep in his and forced his body to accept it.
“Ha, I win. I ate one hundred and one.”
Jason plopped on the peeps covered bed, holding his stomach hoping the ache would stop. Adriano made his way over and stood in front of the window and looked up at the sky. The last time he’d see it. a welcoming blue color. “Do you believe in Heaven Jason?”
” I believe in the Idea, I guess, I mean i’m suppose to believe that.” Jason said still holding his stomach.
“Do you believe we’ll go to heaven being that..” the sentence trailed off Adriano’s lips and he stared up at the clouds.
“I think if we’re going to haven that’d be great! If we go to Hell for being sinners that’s also fine!” Adriano looked at Jason in confusion. “Think about it, if god sends people to hell for being sinners then Hell has to be lit.”
“Or over crowded.” The two boys shared a laugh. Adriano made his to the bed and wrapped himself in Jason’s arms, his eyes still staring over at the sky. “Let’s take a quick nap and then finish our day.” The two slowly fell asleep to the silence.
Gatsby’s green light
The boys marched through Manhattan as if they were soldiers on a mission, with Jason leading the platoon and Adriano steadily trying to keep up. “What time is it?” Adriano asked. They had been walking for quit sometime, the sun had finally broken free from behind the meteorite and was setting beyond the concrete horizon, Adriano knew that the end of the day was near. As they got closer to the museum the neighborhood began to change. What was once a sea of people looting from stores became brownstones with windows still intact, the madness and screams had faded into the distant background. “Which museum are we going to?” he cried. Then without warning Jason stopped, his hand rose like a compass with his cuticles leading the way.
“That one.” Just one block ahead of the boys was a massive brick building with a banner attached the awning that read: Fitzgerald museum of Fine Arts: Come see authentic costumes from the Roaring 20’s. The windows were draped in wooded planks covered in nails.
“Are you sure we can get in? it looks abandoned. Besides, it’s an exhibit of the roaring 20’s. That wasn’t the most ideal time period for people like us. ” The last bit of Adriano’s sentence dragged out of his mouth with a hint of anger, Jason waved him to be quiet as he slowly walked closer to the museum. “What’s so special about this museum?”
“My Dad took me here when I was younger.” Jason’s statement made Adriano frown. Jason and his dad didn’t have the best relationship once he introduced Adriano to him as his boyfriend, Adriano still blamed himself for the way their bond broke. Partially because Adriano dreamed all his life of having parents. At an early age Adriano was dropped off in front a fire station and became a ward of the state for the rest of adolescence. Adriano was expecting this fantasy life of becoming apart of Jason’s family. That was, in many ways his american dream. However, this did not match the reality. “There do you see that!” Jason shouted. In between the cracks of one of the planks was a green light, flashing through every other second, as if it were beckoning them to come closer. The boys made their way to the doorsteps until they were just shy of the front handle. “Do you feel that?” Inside you could hear the faint cry of music playing.
Adriano stepped closer to Jason. “Is that music? Is there a party going on?” Adriano pushed passed Jason and tugged on the door to get it open. After a few attempts he moved out of the way and Jason gave it a crack, and still the door did not budge. ” Oh my god, I can hear people talking.” Adriano announced with his ear pressed up against the door. “and they’re laughing, who throws and party and laughs when the world is about to end.”
“Admitted you’re just jealous you weren’t invited” The boys eyes locked for a moment before Adriano broke away, hid his face behind his curls. He knew Jason was right. “Where are you going,” Adriano had begun to walk away. “we have to steal something from THIS museum.” Just as Jason was about to give the door another it swung open and nearly hit him in the nose. At the doorway stood a man dressed in an all black suit without a single cress or stain, he was punctilious to the point where his handkerchief formed a perfect triangle outside of it’s pocket. He stared at the boys, sizing them up, his foot tapping to the pulsing music inside.
“Can I help you guys with something?” The words rolled out of his mouth like Appalachia he came from. His accent was heavy.
“Yeah is this the address for the party?” Adriano proclaimed thinking quick on his feet.Once more the man in the doorway looked at the boys.
“You’re a little under dressed.” He hissed. The boys were both wearing jeans with sections ripped at the kneecap. Adriano’s shirt was covered in Pineapples, while Jason’s still had his shirt unbuttoned.
“Under dressed!” Adriano hissed. “I’ll have you know I am wearing a limited edition Dolce and Gabbana bra right now.” Jason threw his hands over his face out of embarrassment.
“Alright come in.” The man moved out of the doorway. “You can call me J. G., and this my end of world dance-a-thon. As long as the musics playing we dance.” They entered the gallery to a herd of people dancing and stumbling all over the the museum and in the center of all this chaos stood a single statue of winged woman. The museum had an odor of body sweat and alcohol, and the floor was littered with plastic silverware and beer bottles.
“What is this?” Jason asked.
In that moment J.G. turned backed and looked at Adriano and Jason. “This is what we’ve all been looking for on our pursuit of happiness. People get to spend their last few days partying like all the rich people. This is whats on the other side of the pursuit of happiness.” The boys follow J.G. as he advanced toward the statue. “Here you have no worries. Truly its the american dream.” He rested his hand on the statue and stared up at it while his foot lightly tapped against the floor. “Anyways, who could ever justify leaving such an amazing statue alone in this giant building.”
J.G. smiled at the boys and walked away to be swallowed in the madness of the dance floor following a woman with a flapper dress on. Jason grabbed Adriano’s arm and motioned for him to follow. Jason wanted nothing to do with the party. “Lets get the painting then head home?”
Adriano threw his hands above his head as if he were being put under a spell by the green spotlight spinning around him. “C’mon can we dance for a bit?” Jason shook his head. “Okay, give me five minutes. I feel the thumpa thumpa and just gotta dance!” The boys smiled. Jason grabbed Adriano and gave him a kiss on the cheek before walking out of the madness. He leaned up against a column and looked around the museum. The last time Jason was here he and his dad were having bonding time two years ago. The second floor of the museum had a series of photos related to love, one of the photographs was two men kissing. Jason’s dad had covered his eyes as they walked passed it but Jason could still see pieces of photo.
“Alright that was fun but I’m tired, lets get whatever it is and get out of here.” Adriano’s voice soared into Jason’s daydream and snatched him to reality. “So what exactly are we looking for?”
“A picture, it reminds me of us.” The two started down the narrow hallways, they had weaved around almost five corners before they had reached there destination. Still hung on the wall lit with a small green light was the photograph of two boys kissing. Jason grabbed the photo from the wall and begun toward the exit.
“Ya know this area is off limits.” A voice interrupted the boys. J.G. stood at the other end of the hallway soaked in alcohol. “You can’t just take what you want from here. This is my gallery.”
“Piss off, it’s the end of world, what good is this for you?” Jason shouted back. Suddenly, J.G. sprinted toward the two boys. stumbling over his own sobriety. He chased the boys to the door barely reaching them when he whipped out his knife and took a swipe cutting the framed photo, Jason let out a loud scream. “Why’d you have to go do that?” The water began to swell in his eyes.
“Oh I’m sorry did that mean something to you. I got news for you kid, nothing matters. you think you’re gonna find peace, or happiness well you’re not. This is it, the world is over as we know it. The American dream died when that meteorite decided to come crashing…” Adriano grabbed Jason and walked him away from J.G. who stood on the front step of the museum and continued to shout his sermon at the boys.
By the time they had reached their studio Jason had finished crying. He threw the photo on the bed and put the TV on mute, the silence had begun to creep on the boys “Listen I didn’t wanna say this before we got the museum,” Jason looked at Adriano as he broke the silence ” but now you’re going to heaven a born again criminal.” They share a heart-filled laugh. They both undressed each other and got under the covers. “So what’s the deal with this painting, did it give you wet dreams when you were younger?”
“No, I saw this photo in the museum and though I wanna be that man.” Jason pointed at the men in the photo.
“So you wanted to kiss this guy?” Adriano said jokingly.
“I wanted to kiss you. Look at them, look how in love they are. When my dad covered my eyes from this photo I knew that loving someone meant you had to be honest and vulnerable and unafraid to share yourself completely. With everyone.” The boys shared a passionate kiss that went uninterrupted for a single moment. Buzz. Jason’s cellphone started to ring. He had broke away from Adriano’s touch and picked his phone off the nightstand. It’s a text from Daisy, his old friend from high school. “She says to turn on the news, somethings happened.”
“Hopefully they stopped this meteoroid!” Adriano grabbed the remote and turned the volume up. The voices of the news anchor filled the room, the boys hopped out of bed and stoop still gazed at the TV. As the news anchor finished his report Adriano collapsed into Jason’s arms, his cry a sharp plea for humanity to deaths ear. Jason again holding Adriano, in the darkness of the room against the city lights. His eyes marveled at the faint sight of the green light flashing in the distance. All those people spending their last moments on earth dancing with strangers. It was in this moment that Jason realized that he was already living his American dream. spending time with the one he truly loved, until death do them part.
Once more the news reporter spoke: I repeat the Meteorite has picked up speed and is now expected to hit New York by 9pm tomorrow evening. Earlier today we reported that we only had 72 hours left on this earth. That was wrong. We now have less that 24 hours. If you haven’t already, say goodbye to your loved ones.