But I’m a Talent Agent

So, as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I’m currently obsessed with the TV show Wynonna Earp. Or if you’ve talked to me. Or texted me for a recipe, I probably mentioned it, too. (Also, if you’re not following me on Twitter, you should. I’m reasonably funny sometimes.)

I mean, not really obsessed. Like, my wife still takes priority, but she’s very understanding and lets me do things like watch the live broadcast a few hours before we have to be at the airport and live Tweet it and then maybe join the video hangout and participate a little and encourage me when I talk about it even though she doesn’t watch it. Because she’s nice like that.

liquor

Also, super hot.

But you’ll watch it soon, right, honey?

Anyway, back to topic.

I’ve been a big TV fan for ages — for as long as I can remember, really. This is not an exaggeration. I was born in 1977 (representing 39, bitches!), and I remember watching Days of Our Lives with my beloved grandmother in 1980. Like, Marlena and Roman and the Salem Strangler. It even got a shout-out in her eulogy I somehow managed not to cry through.

The thing is, I never saw…myself on TV. Everyone was pretty, worldly, thin, confident, and, well…straight. Especially in Salem.

Because Jennifer Horton Deveraux.

Growing up, I remember latching on to people who seemed…familiar. Similar, maybe, even though I wasn’t honest with myself about why. I bought a Rolling Stone with Melissa Etheridge on the cover (and promptly purchased all of her CDs after Yes I Am came out — pardon the pun), read the parts about her over and over. I kept it in my closet (ha!), the nearness somehow making me feel not as alone. For every step forward, though, one backwards. I won tickets to see her in concert…and took a guy with me so “no one thought I was gay.” (I wasn’t the only one worried about that, though, because I remember running into two ladies that my brother graduated with, one of them telling me, “If I see any women making out, I’m going to be sick.” The other looked at me and shrugged. Now, almost 20 years later, all three of us are in long-term same-sex relationships. Hopefully she doesn’t throw up a lot.) I bought a concert t-shirt but was always too afraid to wear it. It’s still in a plastic bin in my basement, never worn.

That was a different Monica, you know?

Onscreen portrayals of lesbians were few and far between, and even the ones that existed weren’t anything like me. I’m no Carol and Susan from Friends. I remember saying (jokingly) that I “identified with the black lesbian” in Boys on the Side, though only half of that was (secretly) true. That Ellen puppy episode was in 1997, Roseanne kissed Sandra Bernhardt before that, and Rosie came out in 2002, after I was totally, completely, fully out.

In 1999, something changed.

I had graduated from college, was comfortably mumbling “I don’t know; I might be gay” to some select people (and had been for four years), and had finally been talked into seeing a therapist. After I told her about my nervousness about lesbians, she half-smiled, raised her hand, and said, “I’m a lesbian.”

Clearly, my gaydar was not fully functioning at this point, because she was as granola as granola gets.

Anyway, she recommended I see a movie — a movie called “But I’m a Cheerleader.”

cldr

Swoon.

I don’t know if you’ve seen this movie, but here’s a brief synopsis (if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading). Super-girly cheerleader Megan (a pre-OITNB Natasha Lyonne) is shipped off to gay-deprogramming camp (where she finally realizes she’s gay), where she meets some other gays, most notably Graham (an ever-perfect Clea Duvall), with whom she falls in love and probably lives happily ever after, maybe. They ride off into the sunset in the back of a pickup, so…

It is not an exaggeration to say this movie changed my life.

I sat in the theater surrounded by two friends an an intern (sounds like a rom-com), nervous but excited to see this movie my therapist thought would do me some good.

There’s a scene in which Megan is insisting the things she feels and does (checking out other women, pictures of girls in her locker, etc.) are normal and everyone does them. She slowly starts to realize that it’s not as normal as she thinks, ending with the exclamation, “I’m a homosexual!”

“Holy crap,” I thought to myself. “I’m a homosexual.”

And that was it — my “aha!” moment, where I finally accepted what I had suspected since I was six and known, deep down, since high school. I’m gay.

I went to my next therapy appointment, telling my therapist (named Chris, of course) that I was a giant lesbian. “So, you giant lesbian, what’s next?” she asked.

What’s next was, a few months later when that movie came out on VHS (!), I rented it once a week for several weeks. Watched it multiple times. I think this coincided with my brief period of unemployment, so I watched it a lot. Made other people watch it, including that girl who was also a friend who I had a raging crush on (because there was always one of those). “I don’t get it,” she said about Clea Duvall. I shook my head. I ran outside to do something while they kept watching — I think I had a flat tire or something — and when I came back in, after they had watched the scene in the dance club where my beloved Clea looked like how every even-a-little-butch girl wanted to look and kissed the super-hot girl, she looked at me and said, “I get it now.”

Every time I watched that movie, my heart swelled a little bit. I got nervous in anticipation of watching it. I rewound my favorite parts and watched them over and over (literally rewound — remember it was a VHS tape). I was sad when I didn’t have it; inexplicably happy when I did. It was like that magazine in my closet — keeping me company, reminding me I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t wrong or evil or awful or something to be ashamed of. I was worthy of love and a relationship (those would take a while to find — one much longer than the other, too).

So when I find that TV show or movie that makes me feel this way, I go a little bit nuts. I want to watch it over and over again, my favorite and not-so-favorite parts, engulf myself with the warmness that spreads throughout when I’m reminded that I’m not alone. Not that I need as much reminding as I used to, but it’s still nice to be reminded.

This also applies to people, as I try to surround myself with those who make me feel safe, warm, happy, not alone.

curac

This lady in particular.

And maybe this doesn’t make sense to you if you’ve never been affected this way by a show or a movie or a song, but if you have, well, you’re not alone.

I felt this way with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and much to my surprise, Wynonna Earp hit me the same way. How and why and how is another post for another time, but when I was thinking about how to explain all of that, I kept coming back to Graham.

image1(1)

Not this one, but the cat’s out of the bag (ha!) as to where I got his name.

So, thanks, Clea and Graham (and Melissa) for making me feel like I’m not the only one. For making me feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. For showing me that there are other people like me. For helping me to hold on just a little while longer, because my pickup truck and sunset were waiting.

0705

heart eyes*

*photo credit to Laura Kathleen Photography

 

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Trouble in Paradise

So, I was going to go snorkeling with some peeps, and the place is by our building, so I decided to stop by our room and pee, get some face lotion, etc. 

Because sometimes it’s nice to pee in your own toilet. 

The elevator was broken, so I climbed six flights of stairs, bladder bursting. I went to open the door, and it wouldn’t. The key unlocked it, but it sounded like it was catching on something. 

I slunk back down to snorkel town and explained that it was locked; maybe housekeeping was in there and locked the door? Well, that went over well with the wife, and all four of us marched back up six flights of stairs, and everyone tried to open it. 

No luck. 

Chris went to find help with Matt, and Amy and I stayed at the room in case someone actually was in there. 

I wasn’t allowed to stay by myself because I wouldn’t have given them enough of the business. Amy would use her teacher voice, while I stayed back, shrinking quietly. 

Two visits with a housekeeper, two calls to maintenance, and a desperate trip to pee down and up six flights of stairs later, no less than three maintenance dudes are clustered around our door, trying to decide if they should bust it down or drill into the wood next to it. 

An hour later, eventual success. One of them spider-monkeyed onto the roof and was able to climb through this tiny window and flip the latch from the inside. 


Yep. 

We were so happy to finally get in our room and not be forced to switch rooms (because by some random karma, we have a ridiculously nice room)! I tried to celebrate with a local beer, and it had frozen. Beer slushy was impossible to drink, and I dumped it. Sad face all day. 

Then we realized that the maintenance dudes somehow broke our patio door, but luckily, secondary maintenance man Matt was able to fix it. 

Happy Sunday, yinz guys. 

Yinzers of the Caribbean — live blog of the pre-trip activities

Tomorrow, Chris and I leave for vacation with Chris’ family. We are heading for the Caribbean, guys!!

But it’s never easy. Never easy. So, a bunch of people’s birthdays were entered incorrectly, and, as you can imagine, this is making it difficult to check in with the airline. This shit drives me bananas, and I am so grateful that Chris is here to calm me down. 

PS — our travel agent is awful. And not helpful. If you’re considering booking an Apple vacation, contact me for my “do not call” list. 

The list consists of one name. 

So, I’ll be randomly live-blogging our getting ready and airport adventures. And there will be a bonus live blogger — my SIL Amy will be taking care of the NC portion, because sometimes yinzers move out of state. 


Amy and her beloved. He’s pretty dreamy. 

4:09pm — after leaving work early because of a ticketing issue and running a couple of errands, we are home. Chris has called and talked to three people about this, and there’s no solution. We just have to hope it’s fixed tomorrow when we check in. 

7:34pm — a class in packing by the master, my lovely wife. And gems like “When you have big boobs, this shit is real.”

7:58pm — Graham has received his second shouting, courtesy of the packing genius. 

9:49pm — break for ice cream and “Wynonna Earp.” It should be whiskey and doughnuts, but I have an early flight. For real, though, if you haven’t watched it, you should, especially if you are a fan of the gays and/or genre TV. It’s. So. Good. That’s going to be another blog post in and of itself that’s forthcoming.

12:37am — still awake and need to be up in less than two hours. Finishing up packing and listening to the “Wynonna Earp” fan hangout. More proof that my wife is awesome, since she hasn’t even watched the show yet. We would have fit everything into one suitcase if there weren’t a weight limit!

2:40am — awake. I swear. 

NC UPDATE

2:00– The alarm goes off and it takes me a minute to figure out what’s going on. The good news is that I was actually able to sleep for a few hours! I hit snooze and pretend to go back to sleep.

2:01-2:08– I pretend to sleep while I have a sort of dream about a giant tortoise carrying a box turtle safely across a street on its back. 

2:09– I give up on pretend sleeping and decide not to try to figure out what made these turtles so special that they were being cheered across the road by all humans in the vicinity. I have a text message from the airline that the flight is on time! 

2:18– Another text message from the airline. The flight is still on time. Phew. I got worried for a minute. Hopefully in another ten minutes, I’ll get another reminder. (To be fair, the first message could have been sent hours ago. I didn’t check the time stamp.)

2:23– I packed my face wash, and don’t feel like digging it out of the suitcase, so I use this imposter travel-sized face wash in my cabinet. It claims to be morning fresh, but it really just smells like a grainy, orange-flavored cough syrup I used to take when I had a cough. 

2:28– I now have the “riding backwards on a pig, baby monkey” song in my head for no apparent reason. If you know what I’m talking about, I apologize that it is now in your head. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please check it out: 

https://youtu.be/5_sfnQDr1-o

2:52– Everything by the front door and ready to leave! I found that the poor fish had his light on still and now he thinks it’s morning. Go back to sleep, fish, you’re drunk. Waiting for my taxi to wake up. 

3:11– In the priority line with Aunt Deb and Sarah. Hopefully I’ll be able to check in with them because I’m traveling with them and won’t be kicked out into the “not special” line. 


PGH

3:21am — the moon looks really cool, but when Chris said something about it, I responded with, “That’s no moon.”

3:31am — detoured bc of construction and almost taken out by a tractor trailer. Awesome. 

3:28– American Employees have arrived and are opening things up! 

3:33– The first people in line have been helped. We’re next! 

3:35– More employees have arrived! 

3:43– Out of bag check and headed toward security! Things went smoothly. Aunt Deb is TSA pre-check, but Sarah and I are not! 

3:49– Sarah was told she could go to Pre-check with her mom, but I made it through security before them. They are almost through and we will be ready to sit and wait. And wait. And wait. Starbucks appears to be open. 

3:57am — we are parked! Near 11G. Someone write that down. 

Shuttle-stop selfie! This is what one hour of sleep looks like. 

4:12am — sharing the shuttle with some Star Wars fans. The guy just quoted C3PO, and the kid has an R2D2 suitcase (like I do). 

4:20am — in the check-in line. Fingers crossed that it’s as easy as Amy’s!

4:19– They opened at 4:15. I was the first person in line. Ready to go!


4:26– SARAH AND I ARE TRAVELING WITH DOBBY THE HOUSE ELF!


5:04– On board, got to board with Priority passengers since I’m traveling with Aunt Deb. Sorry, Zone 4 passengers! A little kid was in my seat, so I’m across the aisle from my assigned seat. They moved him over there so he could sit with his siblings. Hopefully we’ll be off in the next twenty minutes. I can’t wait to eat breakfast in Charlotte. I’m starting to get hungry! 

5:55am — all through security, breakfast eaten, and waiting at the gate with 8 of Chris’ family members. One may or may not be drunk and is using a personal fan. She just said, “It’s short. It’s not long.” Yes. Definitely drunk. 

6:24am — so. Tired. Need to board so we can sleep. 

6:32am — boarding has begun, but we are in group four because we couldn’t check in online because the airline thought I was born in 1970, which I was not. So I checked my super-cute R2D2 carry-on. Be safe, little buddy! Bloop-bloop-beep!

6:45– Here we are in Charlotte. I got to sit in front of a family with 5 boys who were all under 7. There was a lot of screaming and arguing and children who wouldn’t sit down. I order a Bloody Mary at breakfast and am told they can’t serve alcohol until 7. I said, well then, I’ll just take the water for 15 minutes. 

6:57am — we are boarded! There was some sort of double booking situation going on. Scheduled to land at 8:30ish. Bye, yinz guys!

7:59 am– saving seats for our people at the gate.


8:16am — landed! The Bojus got in trouble for reclining their seats, Mary Ellen offered to buy me an 8am drink (I declined), and the old dude next to me manspread into my legs and armrest the entire flight. Despite an allergy pill, I only dozed for about 15 minutes. But I did have a delicious Coke, so at least there’s that. 

8:53am — the groups have joined, and the yinzers are almost complete!

9:01am — just me with some Hydes 

9:23am — hopefully the pilot is a better flyer than he is a talker, because he just mispronounced the name of our destination with a “I don’t know if that’s how you pronounce it.” Uh-oh. 

4:39pm — checked in. Exhausted. Many problems but happy to be here. Happy #YinzersOfTheCaribbean, folks!

Bar None

Think about your happy place. You know, that place where you can be yourself, relax, do what you want, secure in the knowledge that everything is cool. Be you. The you that you’re meant to be. 

15-plus years ago — a lifetime, it feels like — the only place I felt that way was a bar. A dingy, dark, dank-looking place — by design, I later realized, to discourage people from coming in. A place Big Gay Tony dragged me to, in the hopes of finding me a lady. (He ended up going home with the only other guy in the dyke bar, of course, and this lady went home alone every time I went there.)

Honestly, it was pretty gross. It’s probably best I never saw it in the daytime. It was filled with mean girls, a different brand than I hated in high school but cliques all the same. I think maybe someon dealt cocaine out of the bathroom? Or maybe that was the one on Polish Hill. I remember one of my good friends (Caroline, whose calls I eventually stopped returning because girl was drama ALL THE TIME) had sex with her girlfriend in the bathroom. She thought she was so great, but…I just thought it seemed unsanitary. Oh, Monica. Never change. 

Even talking about it, we had a code. Those in the know. I jokingly said I thought a coworker was flirting with me a little — a bubbly blonde who seemed extra chipper when I was around. Just something about her pinged the gaydar. My work friends thought I was just seeing the world through rainbow-colored glasses. We found ourselves in the bathroom at the same time and struck up a conversation about our weekends — what we did, where we went, etc. “Dormont,” one of us said with knowing smile. “Me too,” said the other. And then we knew. 

My first attempt at flirting took place at this hole-in-the-wall — CJ…something or other. CJ Deighans? CJ’s, we called it, because who has time for last names? I met my first girlfriend there, who had a dog she named after the bar. (Oh, lesbians. Never change.) I met her through her ex, who Tony tried to introduce me to. Honestly, I think he just walked up to overweight girls about my age and tried to play the “Have…you met Ted?” game. You know, before it was cool. I dated that girl I met at that bar for a year and a half…and probably about 17 1/2 months longer than I should have. 

The only public place we ever were affectionate was that bar. 

Ever. 

Let that sink in. 

No touching. No hand holding. No kissing. No terms of endearment. Nothing. 

I called her “honey” once while getting into my car in her driveway. She looked like she wanted to throat punch me. 

She was also kind of awful. 

Can you imagine? Can you imagine your only safe place having floors sticky with beer, air heavy with smoke, dance floor packed with a full spectrum of women — lipstick and leather and basketball shorts and cargo pants — while the DJ with the killer arms played horrible music? Because lesbians love line dancing, apparently. 

And then imagine someone walks into your safe place, the one the extremely butch bouncer protects by just looking terrifying while she collects your five dollars, and starts shooting. 

Literally the only place you can be yourself is violated. 

Where can you feel safe? Where can you be normal when that’s taken away?

I’m a different person now. I don’t need a safe place. I’m my own safe place. I comfortably walk in a safe radius. I’ve changed, and so has the world, I guess. I’m better equipped if someone yells “hey, dyke!” at me, an occurrence that left me speechless at 24. But there’s less shouting these days. 

Everyone saves it for the comments section. 

Besides, if they’re staring now, it’s probably because of my hot wife. 

I don’t need that bar to hold my lady’s hand anymore, but I remember what it was like. I remember how it made me feel. 

If you never needed a bar to feel safe, you are lucky.

If you have never had to hide who you are, you are lucky. 

If you have never felt fear in doing normal things, you are lucky. Normal things like…

  • Holding someone’s hand
  • Checking someone out
  • Kissing your spouse
  • Using a public bathroom and you forgot your purse and/or are wearing a hat
  • Using a dressing room
  • Getting married
  • Choosing to wear non-gender-conforming clothing on any day, especially your wedding day
  • Having children

I guess I’m just trying to explain why this shooting is, for me, extra terrifying. Maybe explain it to you and to myself. 

15 years ago, that could have been me.

Except this time, I’m the lucky one…because it wasn’t.