Essay, LGBTQ, Life, Love & Romance, Millennials, Movies, Thinkpiece


I watched Call Me By Your Name on a flight back from Amsterdam recently (brag!). And whether it was the combination of airplane red wine and altitude, or perhaps a human, beating heart, I was so deeply affected by the viewing that I’ve floated in a fog the last few days, one that I’ve characterized as a “gay funk.”

A gay funk is a peculiar and particular kind of funk for me – and trust, I’ve got plenty of funk genres. It comes from a place of mixed happiness and sadness – the font of queerdom, the well of homosexuality.

I’m not going to get into it here – for a multitude of reasons, including that you are not paying me, sis, and also I doubt my psychiatrist would recommend that I do it – but I’ve spent the last few months coming to terms with the fact that a lot of my high school experience was fucked-up, and painful, and distinctly not okay. It’s hard in a lot of ways, to recharacterize something after the fact, but I’ve felt lighter for it.

So the idea of watching a movie that essentially splays out the past traumas I’ve been dealing with – youth and queerness and masculinity and love – sent red flares in my vision and, if I’m being honest, I actively avoided seeing the movie. But with the stretch of eight hours ahead of me and nothing to do but sit, I finally relented.

It also comes from a very legitimate place of cynicism. Queer men, particularly gay, white men, are luckier than others in our community in the fact that we have had more and varied representation in the media. But still, the idea of a movie that depicted my experience made me wary and scared. We get so few chances, and I didn’t want one to be squandered. I wanted to remain unseen.

But in a similar way to Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name truthfully and honestly depicted shades of my life in ways that felt like a tribute, rather than an exploitation.

It was painful to watch, Call Me By Your Name, but it was a curious pain because I felt it lancing me softly and beautifully. I felt parts of me uncoil, spirals of sadness that have been clamped up for so long. I was sad watching the movie, and jealous in ways, and unjealous in others.

Surprise, surprise, but I did not have a love story like Elio and Oliver’s in my high school experience. I had one, very intense and unrequited love – in the way that only seventeen-year-old closeted kids can love – but I related to the breathless, heartsick trill of their relationship. And honestly, I can’t ignore the fact that Armie Hammer is of the same mold as my high school crush: blonde and strappingly all-American.

So much of the romance in my life has been wrapped up with shame, longing, sadness and guilt, and that what I felt the movie portrayed so honestly. How love is propelled by a desire to satiate your own loneliness, quell the turmoil and the self-sabotaging desire to jump. Despite growing up in a world that was growing more and more tolerant of being gay, I don’t recall any positive representation of queer love in my childhood. I had no interactions with gay people, had no inkling that they could be thriving adults.

Watching Call Me By Your Name invoked a sadness similar to the first time I read Giovanni’s Room, sadness that our experience of love is so often colored by pain. I know that this can be a universal experience, but it feels particularly like the nexus of queerness. It’s sad, but it’s also comforting; that we’re a part of a lineage and history that extends beyond your singular, mortal self, despite that mantle being so wrought with pain.

Hence the gay funk: so many of the queer people I know didn’t get to have clean, cut-and-dry first experiences. They were tainted by who we were, and how the world treated us. So watching Call Me By Your Name made me viciously jealous of a tenet of teenhood that I missed out on. The movie made me sad for the kid that I was. The kid who was robbed of so many things, so many experiences. For all the love that I did have, there was so much love spilled on the ground, wastefully draining away. I’m sad for what he had to go through, for what he didn’t realize he was going through, and for what he would be going through.

But the movie made me happy in a lot of ways, because that pain was clarifying for me – it crystallized, for good and bad, the person that I am. It made me a fighter and empathetic and clumsy, complex and ruthless and fragile. It made me question who I was – it made me fight for myself. It grounded me in my own soil. It also reminded me that, in spite of it all, I loved being a teenager. I loved feeling all the nuances and complexity of emotions – first best friends, first break-up, first disappointment, first triumph. Like Mike Phelps was built for swimming, I was built for feeling things deeply. A lot of that (lol) was depression, but I think that even without being depressed, my body would be carved for intensity of feeling.

And it’s funny, because if I saw that kid – seventeen-year-old me – I would think that he was beautiful. I would admire his grit, his humor, his broken attempts at concealing how deeply and tumultuously he cared. I would’ve found him brave, and witty, and endearing, even as he attempted to be as spiky as possible. It’s the lasting echo I’ve carried with me since watching the movie: deep, bursting love for the kid that I was, despite everything, despite all the pain. And that’s what the end of the movie was about. Closing yourself off from grief is another kind of trauma. Feeling things deeply is not a curse, it’s part of the experience.

So much of life is love tempered with pain. One doesn’t exist without the other.

Love & Romance


It’s Valentine’s Day! This isn’t me reminding you because it’s impossible that you went almost the entire day before realizing this fact. As was pointed out to me this morning, Valentine’s Day is not recognized with any sort of bank holiday—ergo it basically doesn’t exist. Actually it for sure doesn’t exist. However, I still kind of enjoy it—it reminds me of cheap little candies taped to paper cards given out in grade school. Also I dig the color pink.

Things that have happened to me today precisely because it is Valentine’s Day.

1). Kissed my friend to get a free meal at Qdoba.

2). Read the OUT100 “Most Eligible Bachelors” 2017 list.

3). Was stuck walking behind a “cute” couple who had linked arms and blocked me in.

4). Listened to someone in my Columns class read a piece about power-eating pasta carbonara on a Valentine’s date and got misty-eyed.

Things that have happened to me today in addition to its being Valentine’s Day.

1). Stress-ate a burrito from Qdoba after having a particularly gruesome career advisement meeting.

2). Watched last night’s episode of The Bachelor.

3). Went to Trader Joe’s.

4). Made a grilled cheese (that hasn’t happened yet but I have a good feeling).

Things that I hope will happen to me on a future Valentine’s Day.

1). Someone buys me a burrito and I don’t have to go back in the closet for it.

2). Get on the OUT100 Most Eligible Bachelors list.

3). Horse-kick linked-arm couples in the back of the knees.

4). My husband makes me a grilled cheese with at least “eight dollars of Jarlsberg” in it.


Today is pretty and cutesy and annoying because greeting card companies told us that it should be. But that also doesn’t mean that we can’t make it pretty and cutesy and annoying. Millennials have the power to make anything annoying. I like the idea, despite its obvious commercial overtones, that there’s a day to be romantic and icky and loving. A day to wear pink and buy yourself chocolate and pretend to be in love with your platonic female friend to get a free burrito bowl.

Anyway, I’ve got to go finish The Bachelor and make myself grilled cheese. AND I bought myself Ben & Jerry’s yesterday and I didn’t sad-eat all of that last night so mama’s got a treat for later. What’s the saddest thing about this post? Is it that last sentence or are there too many things to pick just one?


Article, college, Humor, Love & Romance


A few weeks ago, I briefly mentioned that I had noticed a lot of people getting together as the weather took a turn for the colder. I made a hilarious joke about Noah’s Ark and biblical floods (very well-received, don’t you worry). I put it out of my brain until a friend/fan of mine, Emily Rizzo (her life is so glam I want to reside in her pocket and just observe) brought it up again when we were getting coffee/I hijacked her and her other friend getting coffee.

“Have you heard of cuffing season?” she asked (ugh, she’s so good at asking questions, which is very important for a fan. It shows I’m not just a glamorous social media prop to her).

“No, what the fuck is that?” I answered, thinking it must refer to pant-lengths, which is a political issue I am very passionate about. However, she explained/I figured it out because I wasn’t listening that closely, cuffing season is exactly the phenomenon I had witnessed.

What’s the dealio, yo?

People who I knew as single were starting to drift into each other, and the amount of handholding went skyrocketing. But what’s behind this turn towards #love? Is it born (borne?) out of a desire to not pay for heating (body heat is, like, the best kind of heat)? Is it a reaction to the more dangerous fall weather (bears, black ice, and basic white girls)? Or is it the desire to not have your multitude of nosy aunts not breath down your neck during the holiday season (I wouldn’t know; all my family knows I’m gay so no one asks me any questions)?

“I could see how it could be a thing,” said Grace Pearson (a general beautiful person but also so nice; so unclear). “I could see how in Boston, where the weather gets so dreary, that it could be a thing.”

Pearson (but why is she so nice?? Pretty people don’t have to be nice) said that it’s not a phenomenon that she’s particularly observed, but one that she fully believes in (i.e. Santa Claus).

When I looked to the source (Urban Dictionary), I found a definitive definition (and a lot of misogyny—come on, you guys). The “top definition” defines “cuffing season” as thus:

“During the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be “Cuffed” or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”

The word seems to be, at least according to a Vogue article (Vogue, you guys), derived from “handcuffing” and holds the implication that whether or not either party wants to, social norms and a primal urge seem to have locked them in love-rigors until spring’s thaw.

However, when I talked to one Olivia Wiles (AMAZING skin, great voice—like scrubbed velvet on a chilled winter morn), she knew exactly what cuffing season was. When I asked her to “give me all the t,” she did not let me—and enterprising young journalists everywhere—down.

“I don’t know if it’s an active decision, like “oops it’s fall gotta get cozy”. But I think there is something evolutionary in us that when the leaves change and it gets colder we crave a companion,” she said.

The autumnal activities also provide a strong incentive for coupling up. “Fall is also just such a coupley season: apple-picking, pumpkin-carving, holidays,” continued Wiles.

“I think it is definitely more primal.”

Andrew Cavaluzzi, a boy I went to high school with who still won’t admit that we’re dating (it’s, like, stop playing hard to get, babe!!!), was as truthful about his thoughts on cuffing season as untruthful he is about the state of our relationship.

“I think it is definitely more primal,” said Cavaluzzi. “There was always this innate fear in humans that we might not make it through winter.” Cavaluzzi also made the interesting and important point of body-affirmation. “Winter leads to less confidence in oneself, leaving people slightly more glum and therefore [they] look for external approval, i.e. relationships.”

As the weather gets chillier, “the relationship statuses are poppin’ on Facebook and flames are igniting,” said Wiles.

Callie Ahlgrim, a young woman whose love for me is as deep as her dimples (great dimples, you guyz) feels that cuffing season is less Nature v. Nurture, and more “You’re afraid you’re gonna die alone.”

“It’s the same kind of idea where people get lonely around Valentine’s Day. You’re alone every other day of the year as well, you’re just freaking out over a made up phenomenon,” said Ahlgrim after I begged her to comment. I also begged her to tell me if I was pretty; she did not respond.

However, studies (I’m assuming) show that as the year shifts from winter to spring, relationships end as people get hotter/tanner. And in the cold drawn breath of the ultimate winter—death—we’re all going to be alone. HAPPY THURSDAY.

Ahlgrim offered some sage advice (and some sage, amiright) to cope with the impending doom of death via singledom. “I think that the lonelier you get and the more you feel like you need someone to be romantically involved in your life, the more you actually just need to focus on yourself and your own shit.” Beautiful words from someone who refuses to acknowledge my external beauty.

Do you like my new Thanksgiving-themed banner?!

Love & Romance, Rambles


(written after eating Panda Express and talking about RuPaul’s Drag Race with Thea, a tru g0ddess)

Mindy Kaling once said that she classifies rom-coms in the genre of science fiction, and I agree. The premises are so thin, the coincidences are so transparent, and the characters are…Matthew McConaughey.

But there’s something about the rom-com that appeals to me, and since its Gila monster fangs into my heart. Rom-coms shape, for better or for worse, how we interpret romance. We think it should be hard, with twists and turns, and at the end, we believe that everything will work out in the end. And that’s not bad, and I don’t want to stop believing that. Because the alternative to the rom-com world—likely Nihilism—sucks ass.

Rom-coms allow us to take the shitty and spin them into gold. The boy that didn’t call back, who was kind of a douche—instead of taking them as them, you take them as the steady montage of Boys That Weren’t, before the Boy That Was. Unconventional romances take the tune of a No Strings Attached.

Side bar: remember when everyone was very into the “friends with benefits” movement? That’s very much the grandfather, or slutty uncle, to our “hookup culture.”

And the boy that drags our hearts through the mud like a kite—made on last week’s episode of The Amazing Race—becomes not just another guy, but the One. We make all these excuses and parse all these moments for hidden meanings; we peel apart words like artichokes, searching layers for the core.

Sometimes things aren’t artichokes. Sometimes they are, but sometimes they aren’t. and that really sucks. But I don’t know if I can shift my frame of mind to believe that. For better or worse, I’m a sucker for a Mindy Kaling, Nora Ephron moment, a swell of non-diegetic music when their name pops up on your screen. There’s something painfully beautiful when fantasies crumble, a la Her, but life is hard enough. I have depression and anxiety—I feel like I’ve filled my cup full of all that kind of hardship. I’ll keep believing in rom-coms and even when the poison incapacitates me, I’ll welcome that fat, slobby Gila monster into my bed.

Because why not? It’s better than nihilism; it’s better than cynicism. The world is built for cynics, and who wants to follow that crowd? I might be dumb and hopeful and completely wrong, but all that buildup before the fall is excruciately beautiful and inspirational and worth it. I don’t mind falling and breaking and sad. I can deal with that. I’ve been dealing with that. But to put up with the inevitable fall for the taste of rushing wind and the excitement before the strike of teeth and flash of pain…that seems like a good trade for the flush of excitement when he likes your Instagram, or when she looks your way. In a sickening way, it’s all worth it. Even when it’s not.

Give me a Troop Beverly Hills over a Ten. Give me Guardians of the Galaxy. Give me improbable love that I can ingest and carry with me even when I’m feeling like smacking books out of people’s hands. Give me unlikely, unrealistic, sci-fi-worthy romance that’s so saccharine it’s painful. I’ll deal. I’ll take it all. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I can handle it.