Moving

I’m moving.

Like, holy geez. It’s actually happening.

It’s not just a dream in my head. It’s like, reality, now.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ve been wanting a place of my own ever since I got a taste of it during my college days. I wanted it ever since I had a job that was earning me a steady income, even though it wasn’t enough for me to be completely on my own. I still wanted it after my mom died, despite some depression making it seem like I didn’t desire it enough to do anything about it.

Inheriting her house was one of the best gifts, because it was like that final extension of her making sure I was safe, especially during a time where my whole world had changed. Though her death wasn’t sudden, it was still a shock, and the gift of her home gave me time to navigate out of that paralysis. However, the house has now become a crutch. It’s become a constant reminder of the past twenty-two years that I’ve been living in it. It’s a reminder of the fact that I was a child, then a teenager, then an adult in this home. These stages of my life don’t represent the full spectrum of who I am now, and living in a space where I used in those mindsets is a strange, debilitating experience.

I am an adult who does not want to live in a home where his entire life has taken place. I have so much to look forward to, so much ahead of me, that I can’t have a heavy past weighing me down.

As easy as it is financially to live in this house (especially as someone who’s investing in self-employment), it has been the worst for my mental health. Projects start, and don’t go anywhere. Ideas float away because I don’t have the energy or the feeling of self-worth to solidify them. I sit in front of the computer and use only willpower with no actual work to just hope that I get some words onto the blank document. This house has sucked all of the inspiration out of me. I have to drag its past along with me to get anything done, and that past has become too heavy.

Even just knowing that the move is days away is enough to feel inspired. I’ve flown through even just writing this post, which would have taken me a whole hour, if I were to write it a few months ago. The drive is there, knowing that my life is moving on. I feel the spark, ignited by a big change. In this new apartment, I picture myself writing thousands of words at a time, and having more energy than ever for my Twitch streams. It feels better than anything has in such a long time.

I told a friend this already, but I’m probably just going to cry the moment I’m finally settled in to this new apartment. I’ve had the weight of living in this house on my shoulders for too long, that I don’t remember what it’s like to be without it. It just might be one of the most beautiful things I’ll feel in this decade of my life.

I want to apologize to those who hoped to see more written content from me, lately. I especially want to apologize to anyone who supports me through Patreon, which you can use to help fund my creative endeavors, and receive exclusive rewards. Living in this house has really done a number on any kind of inspiration for the one thing I’ve been consistently passionate about, and I’m sorry that it meant affecting you all, as well. Believe me, I have tried time and time again to create new things that I am passionate about for you all, but the depression behind living in this stagnant space has really taken its toll. It has weighed me down to a point where I hate myself for saying I’m a writer. I don’t want to hate myself for not being able to fulfill a dream, anymore.

Thank you to everyone who continued to support me through this. Thank you to everyone’s kind words and positive vibes, especially about this big change in my life. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the feeling of things changing is there. I have to keep talking about it, or else it doesn’t feel real. Thank you for your assistance in making it feel real.

My Writing Is Getting Published!

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So you know how I was talking about the fact that I’m going to have some writing published in a book, soon? Well, that book is now available for pre-order! The book itself is a collection of excerpts from Arizona-based writers, in both fiction and non-fiction genres. I’m not only excited to see my excerpt in a solid, tangible book, but I’m also very excited to be featured along so many other talented writers!

The excerpt I wrote for the book discusses some feelings I had around my mother’s passing. A parent passing away is such an interesting (and yes, painful) time for introspection, and pondering about how life will be much different due to the fact that they’re gone. I had some complex feelings surrounding her death, and it was not only cathartic for me to get these words out into the world, but was cathartic to turn these feelings into a strong piece of art. I really did put my heart in it. I wouldn’t have submitted it if I didn’t stand strongly behind it.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering this book, here is the link that you can use to get a copy of your own! It will be out on October (date here), and I can’t wait for you to read it!

New Article on Medium! “Can’t We Just Be Friends?”

Just put up a new article on Medium!

I had noticed a trend of men in the queer community (especially gay men) putting too much of a focus on romantic/sexual attraction when it comes to forming any sort of connection with other queer men. This mostly came from experiences I’ve had on dating apps, but it was something I assume isn’t only isolated to being on the queer dating apps.

Here is a short excerpt from the article:

“It’s so easy to just blame ‘the apps’ for why we can’t find these queer friendships. They’re structured in such a way that seems to be geared toward sexual encounters and casual dating, but I think the responsibility is ultimately on us to create the connections we’re looking for (or at least make those first steps). I also realize that “the apps” are far from the only way to make queer friends. In fact, there are, most likely, several better ways to make connections with other queer individuals. However, I talk about these apps often because sometimes, that can be the most convenient resource we’ve got. While I would never say that people have to use the apps any certain way, why not keep yourself open to the idea of other possibilities? So maybe that guy didn’t want to have sex with you, but if you have a lot in common, why not just keep the conversation going? Sure, that guy isn’t interested in a date with you, but why not still go have coffee and talk about the shows you both watch? Why does the conversation have to end because there’s no potential of sex or a relationship? Why do we, as queer men, have to suggest to other queer men that we’re not worthy of attention or energy if they don’t want to have sex with us?”

Click here to read the full article! I would appreciate it so much! Let me know what you think about it, and share it with friends if you agree!

New Post on Medium: “Queerness Feels Safer”

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I’ve decided to use Medium to post all of my opinion-based pieces, creative nonfiction essays, and other various non-blog writings! I feel that it will be more helpful for putting my writing in a space where people are looking to read things, and Medium seems to be a great platform for that. I’ll still use my website blog page to update when I post stories on there, so you’ll still be in the know about what I’ve got going on in the Medium world!

The piece I just put up is about why LGBTQ+ people lean toward spending most of their time in queer spaces. I talked about the life experiences that lead me to this realization, the overwhelming societal factors behind it, and how I feel when I’m spending time with other queer people.

Click here to read the piece. I hope you enjoy it!

Love, Simon is the Movie Gay Teens Need

Did I need to see Love, Simon by myself in a theater full of teenage girls to get the full, authentic experience? Probably not, but I think there was some hidden meaning in why this was the way I ended up watching the film. There’s something about me sobbing while watching this movie in my lonesome, knowing that a lot of people in the space we shared don’t know what I’ve been through, that mimicked the way Simon felt in the movie. The metaphor stretched even further, as I didn’t know exactly who else in the theater had been through an experience of being gay in high school, further exemplifying this feeling “loneliness.” The teenage Jeff that still exists within my consciousness, where the loneliness ached the most, needed a movie like this in his life, and I know that’s why I sobbed openly in a theater full of strangers.

Love, Simon follows the story of Simon Spier, who’s been hiding his fairly new realization about being gay from all of his close friends and family. Through a social blogging site for students at the school, he discovers another closeted gay guy, who he starts emailing about being gay, while also developing feelings for him. He then becomes blackmailed by a peer named Martin, a fellow thespian who finds his emails, saying that he won’t reveal Simon’s identity to the whole school as long as Simon helps him get together with his friend, Abby. In order to keep his secret safe, he manipulates his friends’ love lives so that Martin can get what he wants, and so that Simon can keep his identity from being revealed. 

Love, Simon seems like your typical teenage rom-com about a high-schooler who’s not quite ready to come out yet, but it offers so much more. While the story focuses on Simon’s experience with learning about his sexuality through emailing another closeted high schooler, there are layers upon layers of social commentary about being a gay person in the modern day. 

The most fascinating aspect of it to me was that Simon felt he had no big reason to be afraid to come out, yet the idea of it petrified him. His mom is a hardcore liberal who attends rallies to destroy the patriarchy, his friends are all in theater and have open-minded views, and he witnesses an out gay kid at school continue to have friends (granted, he still gets bullied, but seems to handle it in a confident, healthy manner). Yet, despite how well he can see that his life could go, he just couldn’t do it, because the idea that he has to have some big coming out felt ridiculous. The fact that him merely saying “I’m gay” for the first time being so daunting compared to what straight people have to go through felt unfair, and part of him didn’t want to have to give in to that. Simply the idea of straight being the default for society was enough to feel scared to come out.

It touched on many other profound issues that I felt needed to be featured. The conversations that Simon has separately with both his mom and dad after coming out reflect such a tenderness that parents should be treating their children with after they come out. His mom noted that she felt like he was “holding his breath” for a long time, despite him being so carefree in his childhood, showing how aware she was of what may have been going on with Simon. His dad lamented all of the times he made tone-deaf jokes at Simon’s expense, without knowing he could have been offended, showing that he felt like he should have always considered the possibility that his own child could be gay, rather than just assuming they will be straight.

I think the film also approached Simon’s conflict with his friends in such a human way, because though I feel like he should have been absolved from manipulating his friends after they found out he was being blackmailed, him being gay wasn’t so much of a spectacle that it excused him from messing with their lives. While it’s definitely more mature to forgive him immediately, it implicitly spoke to how accepting they were of Simon’s sexuality to feel like him coming out to them would have been better than manipulating them so that they don’t find out. While it borders the line of insinuating Simon should have come out to his friends earlier than he wanted to, I think that particular conflict spoke to how his friends would have reacted if he had just come out to them instead of manipulating their lives.

I’m so grateful to be able to see a movie like Love, Simon finally arrive on the big screen. Jeff from ten years ago could have used a movie like this, and it’s nice to know that the gay youth of today can now look to a movie like this, and finally see stories like their own reflected in mainstream media. They need to be able to see that not everything is fire and brimstone outside of the closet. They need to be able to see parents, friends, and people the run into on a day-to-day basis recognizing and accepting their sexual orientation for what it is. They need to be able to see characters like Simon live happy lives as an out and proud member of the LGBT+ community. Representation like this is so important, and I think this movie is a beautiful, and powerful testament to just what kind of an impact a story like Simon’s can have. 

Have you seen Love, Simon yet? If not, get to a theater right this very moment and SEE THIS MOVIE. It’s too important of a movie to skip out on, so I don’t want to hear your “but I don’t like teenage rom-coms” nonsense. 

But if you have seen the movie, what did you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

The Problem with Excluding Trans Women from RuPaul’s Drag Race

As a community that has worked hard convince heterosexuals that we should be accepted for who we are, you’d think that LGBTQ+ individuals would be better about accepting differences. Also, if you’re someone that most of the community looks up to, you’d think it’d be because your views and position in the community is an overwhelmingly positive one. You’d also think that, as the face of a TV show, and unintentionally, the modern-day face of an entire art form, that you wouldn’t use your position to exclude an identity within the LGBTQ+ community from said art form. 

You may think I’m exaggerating, but from what RuPaul Charles, the face of RuPaul’s Drag Race said about whether or not he would allow a trans woman to compete on the show, it may not seem like it’s all that far-fetched. 

To summarize the parts of RuPaul’s interview with The Guardian that are in question, when asked about whether or not he would allow a trans woman to compete on the show, he said “probably not,” citing an example from Peppermint, a competitor in season 9 as someone who “didn’t get breast implants until after she left our show; she was identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t really transitioned.” Seeing RuPaul’s opinion on trans drag queens on her show during season 5 with Monica Beverly Hillz, which originally seemed pretty accepting, and then also seeing that Peppermint, an openly trans queen, was competing on the show, made me feel that this wouldn’t be an issue. Sure, she did have to get called out for the “She-Mail” segment of her show, and has a horrible track record of using the word “tranny,” but I guess some hopeful part of me thought that this meant her views were changing. Those thoughts all came to a crashing halt when she made an official statement on it, and now I fear that we will never be free of a problematic face of modern-day drag. 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe RuPaul has definitely done good work with the show. He’s an openly gay, black drag queen on mainstream television, casting other drag queens in the community for the show, all of many different races and ethnicities. He’s created quite a stellar piece of representation with Drag Race, and it’s amazing to see this incredibly important aspect of LGBTQ+ culture on VH1. However, that doesn’t make him immune to criticism. While he’s definitely a trailblazer for representing LGBTQ+ identities in mainstream media, his recent interview showed that he still has a lot to learn, especially as the current face of drag.

I’ve seen many people say that, because it’s Ru’s show, she gets to make the rules of who gets to compete on it. While this is true, RuPaul’s Drag Race is our society’s biggest, most prominent look into what it means to be a drag queen, and to insinuate that it’s a “cis men only” club is an insult to past and present trans drag queens. Drag Race did not give birth to the art of drag, rather, it’s a vehicle to display the talent and identities behind those who are drag queens. The unapologetic femininity in the queens’ performances is one of the reasons why the show creates such an impact, and a major reason why drag is such a powerful art form to have on mainstream television. The importance of the men being cis men isn’t lost on me, because society does encourage them to stray far away from anything feminine, yet Drag Race encourages a full embrace of femininity. However, it’s also not lost on me that RuPaul did suggest that trans women don’t have a place on his show, despite a man transitioning into a woman being the biggest embrace of femininity that could truly be done.

Ru says that Drag Race “is a big f-you to male-dominated culture,” so…what does that make being a trans woman? It seems counter-intuitive to defend this viewpoint by saying that only men who aren’t actively transitioning into being a woman are allowed to be on the show. Drag has become such a massive art form, and excluding someone from a chance at showing that art across the country just because they’re actively trying to live as a woman must feel oppressive. On that same note, Ru telling trans women that they can’t be on the show is literally a man telling a woman what they can or can’t do with their talents, at least in his world, which just so happens to be aired for all of the country to learn from on Thursday nights. 

As the lovely Monica Beverly Hillz said in the season 5 finale, “drag is what I do, trans is who I am.” Drag is an art form that anyone can (and should be able to) participate in, and to exclude people from the chance at competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race for not being a cis man is an incredibly low blow. The art form has progressed, and if Drag Race is meant to show the realm of modern-day drag, that means the face of its show (yes, I’m talking to you, Ru) should take a seat from making tasteless tweets defending their outdated views, and think about the values their show needs to convey.

All this being said, I admire what Ru has done for mainstream television. RuPaul’s Drag Race is a powerhouse for representing gay men in the media, as it shows a a cast full of unapologetically homosexual men displaying the talents that have given them successful careers. It shows such a deep look into what it means to be gay in today’s society, showing gay men of many different races with many different personalities, all who have unique experiences that define who they are. That alone makes it a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ media, but the “T” is that we shouldn’t deliberately exclude the T. They’re just as important (that’s why they’re in the acronym), and their drag is just as valid, so they deserve an equal shot at the crown, whether or not the person running the show personally believes they should.

Queer Eye for the Self-Esteem

When I watched the first episode of Queer Eye, I loved it so much, I knew I’d want to gush about it in the form of a blog post. So of course, I proceeded to binge the rest of the first season, calling it “research.” A friend of mine who’s published two books said that it counts, so I’d say that 8-ish hours of binge-watching was justified. 

For those who aren’t aware of the show, or who haven’t seen its predecessor, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the show centers around five gay men called “The Fab Five,” and in each episode, they’re tasked with improving the image and lifestyle habits a different guy (who’s usually straight). Each of the fab five members specialize in different aspects of lifestyle, the categories being food and wine, home decor, fashion, culture, and grooming. They spend about a week with these guys, giving them tips and tools on how to make themselves look and feel better to improve aspects of their life that are making them feel stuck. It’s like a home improvement and make-over show all in one series. Neat!

Though I never watched a whole episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I found the title revamp to just Queer Eye was a great nod in the right direction, as far as showing progression. It already gave the impression that it was less about contrasting straight men and gay men, and more about simply offering their perspective in the guys’ worlds. The old title felt very much like “I have taste because I’m gay, and you don’t because you’re straight,” and I feel like that put both communities under an false, wide-spread generalization. It immediately gave the impression that the show was more about showing similarities, rather than pushing gay men into that “other” category.

The unifying themes don’t just stop at the title. Queer Eye has a general sense of accepting differences, and they even push the boundaries on topics about extreme differences, such as the police’s relationship with the black community, as well as Christianity’s relationship with the gay community. They handle these topics in a way that shows that it’s possible to talk about these things in a respectful manner, and it sheds light on the fact that a lot of our misunderstandings with these subjects are because of a lack of conversations between the two communities. The show also does well at showing that they aren’t easy conversations to have, but that having the openness to listen can go a long way. Of course, the show isn’t saying that we always have to agree with those who are on the other side (especially when it comes to issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia), but it suggests that we at least have these tougher conversations so we know how each side feels about any given issue. 

Aside from all of the positive representation and political commentary in Queer Eye, the main content of the show itself is uplifting in a way that is very much needed, especially in reality TV. It’s not about changing these men to the point where they’re entirely new. Rather, it focuses on putting them on the right track to improve their lives. The Fab Five has their opinions about what they should do, but they ultimately give the guys they’re helping the agency to make these changes in a way that feels comfortable to them. This is a much more positive take on the concept of a make-over, showing that making changes in your life is less about becoming a new person, and more about simply brushing some dust off your shoulders. It portrays that all of us are already beautiful, wonderful people, but we just have to extend that beauty to how we treat ourselves. 

I think Queer Eye is so important, not just because of it’s positive LGBTQ+ representation, but also because of powerful messages about self-love. I feel that some people think taking the time to indulge on things that The Fab Five focus on can make us seem vain or self-centered, but I love that the show reminds us that it’s okay to do these things to promote positivity within ourselves. We don’t have to feel vain about using a face mask every once in a while, or making sure our hair looks good, or even just making sure our clothes show off our personal style, because how we love ourselves can say a lot about the love we put into others. The show is empowering in a way that is so modern, and so relevant to so many different communities, that no matter who you are, you’ll find yourself learning new ways to love who you are.

Queer Eye is currently available only on Netflix! Get in there, reserve some time for yourself to experience this delightful show, cry about how many feelings it gives you, and maybe fall for one of members of The Fab Five. Surely I won’t be the only one, right? Regardless, you’ll have no regrets.