Friday, June 29, 2012

Gay Pride 2012

Gay Pride is always a fun time of the year. We wisely choose June so that everyone could wear short shorts and tanks, which is pretty much the gay summer uniform. I always go to the parade, but usually skip the other festivities. This year, though, I made much more of an effort to go out and enjoy it.

A friend texted me that I should join him and some of his new friends at a gay bar in Hell's Kitchen. It was late and I had just got back from seeing a show at Lincoln Center with some friends. I really just wanted to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. Ah, there's something so appealing about sweats and television. But he convinced so I put on my tightest shorts, skimpiest tank top and poured Skinny Girl Cosmo into a water bottle (so sneaky).

I met everyone at the Flaming Saddle. I jokingly texted my friend that I the self-loathing and judgment were palpable. The constant eye raping was intense. I just kept looking at everyone else and wondering if I was as toned / muscular as them aka as good as them. It's sad that our culture is so obsessed with abs and biceps, but you can't fight city hall. The more you drink, the less anxiety you feel.

We stayed at the Flaming Saddle for like 2 seconds. They were showing old Dolly Parton movies. It had a fun vibe, but not quite dirty enough. I haven't gone clubbing in a long, long time so I wanted to really dance. Next we went to Posh, which was super fun. It was packed and so hot (and by that, I mean temperature). They put the bathroom right next to the dance floor so we constantly had to move when people went in and out - not the wisest interior design move. I also noticed that no one wanted to dance with me except the friends that I was with. This was very disconcerting and terrible for my self-esteem.

About an hour later, we went to our third and final stop of the night, Therapy. I got drinks on the first floor and then headed upstairs with our group. It was fun! I ended up dancing with this guy named Fernando for what felt like hours. At first I loved it and was having a great time, but then I got bored. I knew I wasn't gonna hook up with him, so he was just temporary scenery. Rihanna's Birthday Cake Remix was the turning point. Before that song it was pretty tame, but that song gets me every time (and I hate myself for supporting something featuring Chris Brown). I was Jersey Turnpiking more than someone commuting to the city through the Holland Tunnel. I remember everything being a huge blur, but not the alcoholic haze kind of blur. They played It's Raining Men and it felt like a huge celebration. At one point, a guy took my shirt off (thank God for my Equinox membership). I instantly thought, "Hmm...I can't walk down the street with no shirt." Luckily he pulled it through my belt light. The dark club lights did a great job at hiding my paleness. Everyone knows Wendy William's saying about 3:00 am. Nothing good happens after 3:00 am. So we all left the club drenched in sweat. I crashed as soon as I got home. But Pride Weekend was just getting started.

The parade is the grand finale. Yes, there are drag queens in heels and hairy men in chaps with leather hats. These are definitely moments that scare southern Republican Baptists (not that anyone cares). But there's so much more to the parade. I saw a woman marching with her gay son. There were church groups with signs proclaiming that Jesus loves everyone. It's so nice to see such love. That is really the main theme of the parade - love. Everyone just wants to love and be loved. I don't see why so many people find that threatening or disgusting. Oh well, it's their problem.

Another thing I love about the parade is that it is such a unifying event. So many cultures come together. African-Americans, Hispanics, Whites all march together unified by our common bond (our sexuality or maybe just our humanity). There are so many races, religious and ethnic groups all celebrating and it's not something you see every day. We are so divided all the time that it's really a great thing that everyone can unify and march for a common goal.

Pride Weekend is full of contradictions. The clubs and bars are all about body fat percentage and chest size. It's sad and definitely not healthy. But then the parade is all about celebrating you. There were overweight people and older people. It's all about loving who you are and not being able to show it. With the help of a wonderful family and amazing friends, I'm proud of who I am every single day. But for one weekend a year, it's great to really show the world my true rainbow colors and celebrate who I am with the rest of New York City.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Catching Bieber Fever

Sit down because this is going to be once epic story. Ever since I first heard "Boyfriend," I've had this weird obsession with Justin Bieber. He has this confidence and swagger that I just find intoxicating. I bought all the buzz singles and was pretty excited for his new album to come out. It's also a nice bonding topic with my little sister. She loves him so it gives us something to take about.

An old friend from Sinai emailed that J&R in the Financial District was holding an album signing. I checked their website and, naturally, all the wristbands were gone within a few hours. Oh well. I tried. I saw that they were holding a contest to win one last wristband. I entered and said how I'd love to win so I could give the autographed album to my little sister. I did all I could. Just like Oprah did with her role in The Color Purple, I surrendered it. If I didn't get to meet him, life would go on. And late Monday night I got my proverbial call from Steven Spielberg while singing and running on the track. J&R announced they still had wristbands and I could get one if I bought the album in the store at 8:00 on Tuesday morning. Now I understand Bieber fans. I know that they will camp out (and probably kill) for a chance to meet him. At first I was thinking that I could get up around 4:00 am and go down there. I worried though that the line would be really long and I would have gotten up early for nothing. So I came up with a crazy idea. I'd sleep on the street and wait in line for hours and be the first one there. It made sense. Dedication would get me that autograph. So I packed some water and my copy of 50 Shades Darker and headed downtown. Yes, I forgot some non-essentials like food and a blanket. Oops.

I got off the train and there were blocks and blocks of barracades. They were were obviously expecting a large crowd. I got in line only to be told by security that the line was only for people who already had their wristbands. Ugh. Defeat. But I saw that they said they'd sell them in the morning so I decided to wait it out and buy my wristband in the morning. There was a small group of people at the front of the line so I made conversation with them. There was a Dominican woman, Elaina, who was holding space for her kids, a young girl, Georgia, who was with her nanny, Maria, (I think, I really couldn't figure out the relationship) and a 75-year-old woman, Barbara, who was really sweet and, probably, a little crazy. There were two security guards, Billy and Brian, to ensure order. Of course, there were only about 20 people. I'm thinking that since most people already had their wristbands, they didn't feel the need to get there uber early. Makes sense.

So the clock started ticking at 11:00 pm. I hung out with my new friends for hours. We talked about Bieber and almost every other topic imaginable. They said I was cute for a white boy and they said I had big muscles. I loved them! The time was moving so slowly. I had to wait 9 hours just to get my wristband, which would give me the opportunity to wait another 6 hours to meet Bieber. It seemed daunting! But the time did seem to go by pretty quickly. Luckily, there was a Dunkin Donuts around the corner that let us use their bathroom. I paced back and forth, stretched my legs and talked with my band of misfits. Barbara had a lot of interesting stories. It was really nice because they let me save a spot at the front of the wristband holder line after I waited in the line to buy my wristbands. That saved hours!

I have to admit that I didn't put much thought into what I'd need to spend the night on the street. Luckily, I'm not homeless. I didn't bring anything to sit on, anything to eat or anything to keep warm with. Yikes. It was much cooler than I thought it was going to be mid-June. I texted my friend, Josh, and was nice enough to bring me his camo Snuggie, some water and protein bars. He pretty much saved my life because I don't think I'd have been able to stand outside all night without it. Now warm and in better spirits, but I have to admit that I was wondering what the hell I was doing standing on the sidewalk in snuggie in New York in the middle of the night. I chalked it up to being a good brother and an interesting story.

Around 5:00 am I went to the door where the people without wristbands would start lining up. No sleep, just waiting. Slowly the streets came to life and I had least had some people to watch. I did have to pee in an alley because Dunkin Donuts' bathroom broke. It was creepy because this alley would have been perfect for an abduction / rape scene on Law and Order: SVU. At 8:00, they opened the doors and I was the first to go downstairs and buys my two copies of the Believe, which came with two wristbands. Part 1 of mission? Accomplished. I emailed Pam and told her that I could get a copy for her daughter, Tori, or she could join me. I didn't really do it to carry favor. I did it to share the experience. It's once-in-a-lifetime and why not share it was as many people as possible.

We still had 6 more hours to wait. But around 12:00 they had us start packing up and they began handing out the albums. I started to get nervous because I told Pam that Tori could probably get there around 1:30 and have plenty of time. Who expects anything to start on time? No one. Morris was driving her from Warren and I know that traffic was going to be bad. Oh no! What if she didn't make it? The scene from Deep Impact came to mind. It was the part where the parents hand Leelee Sobeski the baby. They're giving her all these instructions and they're panicking. That's what I felt like when I saw her. I wanted to be like "Here's your wristband. Quick. Put it on and here's your CD." But we had plenty of time so I was able to relax. I saw that black Lexus with Jersey plates pull up about a half hour later. Phew! No more obstacles in the way.

At about 2:45 we could tell that things were about to start. Tori was so nervous. It was cute. She didn't know what she'd say when she met him and neither did I. The people that I had spent the last 15 hours with were getting excited. We were such a band of characters. We headed inside in small batches but we were at the front of the line. It was freezing in the store, which was decked out with Bieber posters and cut-outs. I could tell he was walking in moreso by the deafening shrieks from the young girls rather than seeing him. But I caught a glimpse as he walked down the aisle to the stage. I got pretty excited, not hysterical like the others. Some adults started talking and no one cared. We wanted Bieber.

We started going up. So nervous! Tori went first and I tried to get a picture, but they were so strict. They wouldn't let us take pictures of him while we were getting our autographs. They didn't properly explain it so the lady yelled at me twice. It was weird because I was getting yelled at and I didn't know what I was doing wrong. Oh well. I walked up and touched his hand when I handed him my copy of the CD. I said thanks and left. I didn't really know what to say. I was a little starstruck. It was very chaotic. Lots of photographers and so many staff members - it was really a clusterfuck. But he's Bieber so it's understandable. He seemed nice and he was good-looking.

Finally, it was over. Over 16 hours of standing ended after meeting him for about 20 seconds. I would say that it was worth it though. Renee was beyond elated when I told her and I get this really cool experience. Now all I had to do was go home and sleep...and sleep. I would never do it again, but it was fun. I kept the signed booklet from the cd as a souvenir. I'll probably matte and frame it. It'll be a reminder of such a crazy, spontaneous once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Monday, June 11, 2012

At Peace

I second guess myself, especially with guys. I basically have a relationship rear-view mirror because I'm always looking back. But, I think that I've finally figured out how to respect the memories of past boyfriends and still move forward with my life.

Each time Antonio and I would break up (three times in total), I'd have this intense panic that I'd made a huge mistake. The instant freedom (or loneliness) was terrifying. I'd try to rationalize that problem had to be with me and that I could find a way to make it work. I had so many questions. How do I know if I made the right choice? He remains one of the most beautiful, caring and lovable men that I've ever met. Everything about him is perfect. We were great together, but also completely great separately. I was okay on my own. I want what Carrie Bradshaw describes as "ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each love." What made everything so hard is that I never wanted to hurt him. As much as I wanted everything to work, I could just tell that he wasn't the one for me.

The failure of my first post-Brian relationship really made me scared. What if he's the one person for me? What if no one else will be able to match the intensity and passion? It seemed like a logical fear. But then I started to remember that along with that passion came a lot of tears, resentment and heartache. Slowly, I began to realize that he wasn't the one for me. What we had ended years ago. Holding onto a memory isn't the same thing as holding onto someone. I noticed that as I began to let go of the hope that things could have been different, my anger towards him began to dissipate. I can't recall where I was, but I just remember having this intense "aha" moment. I was happy for him. Sure, he didn't pick me. He chose to live in the closest (to keep the story simple). But he is loved and he has someone to love and protect him. And isn't that really all I should want for him? And just like that...the anger was gone.

I had so much growth and maturity in such a short time. With all the confusion and questions of the past few months, I really needed someone impartial and mature to listen to my ramblings. I found a therapist and he was great. He was much more of a sounding board than a mystic with the answers. One day I was leaving his office and I stopped outside the elevator to get my headphones out and I had this huge epiphany. It doesn't have to be one or the other - Brian or Antonio. Both men are incredible and brought so much to my life. I treasure my time with both, but neither were right for me. I can take the experiences with both and move forward and eventually find someone who fulfills all my needs. I must have looked crazy because it didn't take long to untangle my headphones and I was standing there for a while. Oh well, I'm sure my revelation didn't bother anyone else.

It's a great feeling to have closure with both relationships. I hope Antonio and I will be great friends. We get along so well and I still care so much about him. I'd be lucky to have him my life. What makes me feel really good is that I want happiness for him more than I want it for myself. He deserves it. And Brian? I really hope that he's content with his life. I can now really be his friend. He no longer has anything that I want other than his friendship. The anger towards everyone in his life is gone and I truly wish them the best. It feels so good to be ready to move forward and finally be at peace.