23 Things About Being 23

Happy Birthday to me!

I often find that reflecting when my birthday comes around is just as cathartic as the new year, so of course I’d love to share it with y’all. I made a list of things that I’ve either learned, accomplished, or experienced as a 23-year old, as well as what some of my related ambitions are for the upcoming year. There are so many folks who dwell on their age, and get too concerned with what is supposed to be associated with that number and how and when those things are going to happen. But for me, every year has presented itself with new challenges and triumphs, and regardless of how old you are, there’s always room to learn more. Plus, I’m actually still a child in the grand scheme of things, so I’m looking forward to all of the years I still have to learn even more. So here we go: 23 things about being 23.

  1. You’re constantly inspired by people who are younger than you. Work as closely with them as you can. Whether that’s as a mentor, as an ally, or an involved activist, their vision of the future is certain to give you hope. Stay inspired, listen, and help however you can.
  2. You realize you need to start balancing your love/hate relationship with social media. You’ve done a great job learning to put the phone down and spend less time refreshing the same apps over and over again. Let’s keep doing that and really consider where you want to focus your energy and attention.
  3. There’s a family health scare that forces you to regroup in a lot of ways. It helps you further understand just how far you’ve come in the past few years, and that’s good. But it also gets you thinking about how nothing is permanent, which isn’t as good in the moment, but you’ll keep growing from it.
  4. You tried to start writing another book. It didn’t go well. You gave yourself a challenge to write the roughest draft possible in the month of November and it wasn’t right for you. When you’re ready, and in your own time, take a look at those pages you did manage to write and see what it inspires you to do next. Just make sure you keep writing.
  5. You turn into an actual grandma with back and hip pain. This means you can’t run, so you need to find other outlets for stress relief. It’s really, really difficult, because there are so few things that satisfy you the way running does. Still navigating this one. Stay tuned.
  6. You’re very aware when you’re the only queer person in a room. This isn’t going to go away, probably ever, but there’s definitely steps you can take to make it happen less often. Continue looking for your queer spaces.
  7. Bullet journaling has changed your life.
  8. You’re very confident in the fact that you don’t miss college like everyone said you would.
  9. You also don’t like drinking alcohol like everyone said you would. And that’s okay. It’s another part of who you are that you shouldn’t feel pressured to change.
  10. You accept that you have very strong Ravenclaw tendencies. You’re still very much a loud and proud Hufflepuff, it’s just that now you have a better understanding of what it means to have a little bit of all the house values inside you, and you’re figuring out which ones you treasure the most. But also…go badgers.
  11. You leave the East coast for the very first time. The West coast isn’t exactly your jam, but you get excited to visit again, and hope to visit even more places you’ve never been. Maybe you’ll even get to leave the country.
  12. You fall even more in love with New York, and learn that it’s going to take a lot for you to leave.
  13. Self care is more important now than it’s ever been. You’ve got a great new mantra: Resist. Recharge. Repeat. There are times when it feels impossible to get back up after getting knocked down. But you have gotten up. Every. Single. Time. Pay attention to your successes, because the fight is far from over. Don’t push yourself, but make sure you’re not standing still for too long.
  14. You meet a number of people who inspire you. For so long you’ve clung to the “don’t meet your heroes” mentality, and you’re starting to let that go in the communities you feel safest. You’ve got some great heroes. They love you. Really, they told you so. That’s pretty cool.
  15. Being an adult with an adult job suits you well. You are discovering what your strengths are, what you’re most passionate about, and you’re doing all you can to keep busy and fulfilled. If you want to keep doing all the things, that’s great. If not, that’s great, too. Either way, you’ve got plenty of time.
  16. Meditation is one of the most crucial tools you’ve collected in your life, and you get your 8th tattoo to keep yourself in check. In check with self love, self care, remaining present, working hard, and spreading kindness.
  17. You participate in your first ever protest. It’s scary and thrilling and empowering. You’re inspired to keep discovering new ways to make a dent. Don’t worry about its size – focus on its impact.
  18. You have to adjust your medication for the first time since you’ve started taking it. It’s still something you’re working on. And you’ll likely be working on it for a really long time, so try your best to be patient.
  19. You see Hedwig for the 8th and final time. It’s still your favorite show.
  20. You go to a nutritionist to figure out why you’re so damn hungry all the time. Surprise! You gotta eat more veggies. You’re never going to be the healthiest eater, but you’re becoming more mindful. And you’re still hungry. Another work in progress.
  21. You went on a first date. Not a second. And you’d really like there to be a second at some point. Sooner rather than later.
  22. You’ve started sharing more of your writing with the world and it’s definitely something you want to do more. Turns out, finding a literary agent and getting your book published isn’t the only way to do that. (But that would be really cool, too.)
  23. Resolutions are out. Intentions are in. You write them down and hang them on your wall and doodle about them in your bullet journal and remind yourself every day that you’re working with something, not for something.

Thanks to those who have joined me on my journey so far. I’m excited to see where this upcoming year takes us!

Advertisements

Welcome to Nightgowns

I’ve always admired the art of drag, but it wasn’t until this past year that I’ve really gotten immersed in its culture. Obviously, a big part of that was through RuPaul’s Drag Race. I unapologetically love that show; I think it’s truly special and I will defend it against anyone who says otherwise. But my love of drag extends far beyond the queens I watch on TV.

As someone who surrounds herself with as much queer culture as possible, the more I learn about drag, the more I appreciate how its history has shaped so much the queer world we know and love today. From the first time I watched Paris is Burning, to the books I read in undergrad, and the various queer spaces I’ve been introduced to during my time in New York City, I’ve had the pleasure of learning about the trailblazing LGBTQ+ heroes that have paved the way for us in so many ways. Honoring and celebrating these people is more important than ever, which is why I’m still reeling from my experience at Nightgowns.

I have to admit I was far from prepared for the magic I had the pleasure of witnessing at the show Sasha Velour hosts at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. I could go into all of the details of how the show was structured and all of the queens I was excited to see perform, but to be honest, that isn’t the essence of Nightgowns that I’ve been holding on to. Of course the queens were incredible – New York is overflowing with amazing drag queens who know how to entertain. But this show was a completely new level.

It was a celebration of queer spaces, voices, and experiences. It was a place where anyone could be a drag queen – or king, or whatever monarch you felt in your heart. The queens paid tribute to women, performers, and artists of color, they made statements about voices that are silenced and identities that aren’t discussed, they were weird and extravagant and bold and unique, and absolutely everything that drag celebrates.

Truthfully, it’s easy to forget about the history when you’re watching your favorite queen lip sync to the latest Ariana Grande single. And I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing – far from it, I would argue. The very essence of drag is to have fun and be entertained in a space that makes you feel welcomed, safe, and carefree. For me, this was just a piece of what Nightgowns delivered.

All of the performances left me speechless. My jaw fell open in awe too many times to count, and not only because of the talent I saw displayed on stage. What moved me most was the emotion, the artistry, and the bravery to do the complete opposite of what the audience expected. There were moments when I didn’t completely understand what was going on, and I was quick to realize that I didn’t need to. While there are definitely messages to be shared and feelings to convey through drag performances, there’s also the freedom to not necessarily need those things. It’s enough as a drag performer to go on stage, show your art, and simply – or maybe not so simply – subvert the ideas of what is normal. The very fact that I was fully captivated watching these artists perform is enough to prove that authentically existing in these queer spaces is enough, and worth being celebrated.

Something Sasha shared that I can’t seem to get out of my head is the idea of screaming when we need to be heard, and when we don’t, sitting down and listening with our full attention. As a drag fan, this hits extremely close to home. I’ve had a lot of privileges in my life that have afforded me the luxury of needing to seek out books, movies, and other media to truly learn about the history of drag and why it’s such an important part of queer culture, rather than living through it myself. These spaces encourage us to learn and think openly no matter our own personal histories, but I realize that I have been granted the opportunity to do for this for the majority of my life. So I feel it’s my responsibility to highlight the voices of those who haven’t been allotted these opportunities, supporting their art and their personal journeys, and remembering to sit down and listen with my full attention when these amazing people have something to say.

As a member of the queer community, I am so grateful to be surrounded by folks who want to celebrate the history and beauty of our community. It’s one thing to read about queer culture, or to watch a movie about it, but to experience such moving expressions of pride in person was transcendent in ways I never thought possible. Nightgowns gives me so much hope as a writer, an activist, and an advocate for using queer history to lead us further in the revolution.

Pride // Playlist

Happy Pride Month!!!! I was inspired by Spotify to make a playlist of all of my favorite queer and allied artists (but mostly queer). I also added some commentary for a few of my favorites. Check out the playlist below!

 

Gasoline – Troye Sivan

I remember Troye’s first EP being released not too long after he posted his coming out video on YouTube. Knowing that one of my favorite queer YouTubers was releasing music made me REALLY excited, especially when I heard this song. He was (and still is) a very young kid who has a major platform, so hearing him share a song with male pronouns made me feel like such a proud mom.

Hold Each Other – A Great Big World

Truly the first time I’ve ever heard both male and female pronouns sung by the same person in one song!

Born Naked – RuPaul

The quote “we’re all born naked and the rest is drag” is so revolutionary. This song encompasses Ru’s ability to challenge norms, break barriers, and serve as a prime example of living as your true self even when you’re told it’s wrong. If RuPaul is wrong, why would anyone want to be right?

Strangers – Halsey feat. Lauren Jauregui

MY 2 BISEXUAL QUEENS!!!! Seriously, I’ve been such a big fan of these ladies for a while, and not only is this song an absolute jam, but it’s so important that the bi community has a song from two strong women who can sing about dudes in one song and ladies in another.

Ease My Mind – Hayley Kiyoko

All the female pronouns!!!! Hayley is so unapologetically WLW in all of her songs and I love it.

Come To Mama – Lady Gaga

This song makes me feel like Gaga is my queer mom who will hug me for 20 minutes whenever I’m sad.

Can I (Call You Summer) – Tyler Conroy

I met Tyler when I was a baby gay freshman and he was the president of our school’s GSA! He has always been such an inspiration to me as someone who works incredibly hard to achieve their dreams, and does so while being fearlessly true to himself. Also, it’s the perfect summer jam.

Girls/Girls/Boys – Panic! At the Disco

My true bisexual anthem from the marvelous Brendon Urie (…naked)

The Thrill of First Love – Falsettos

I will never shut up about Falsettos!!! But honestly, this show is such an important snapshot of queer history. It shows how far we’ve gotten, how much further we still have to go, and it’s all told from the perspective of a seemingly normal family who are flawed, complex, and ultimately relatable.

Know Your Name – Mary Lambert

Not only does this song make you want to dance all around, but the music video is basically the fun, queer version of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”. Instantly obsessed.

I Know A Place – MUNA

I love MUNA’s entire album, but this song stuck with me when I read an article about how it was written in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando last year. Listening to the song in that context gives it an even greater impact of love and amazingness. Plus, this performance had me crying like a baby.

GDMML GRLS – Tyler Glenn

This entire album is a testament to Tyler’s strength as he navigated his journey toward the queer community while being dismissed from another. For me, listening to this song gives me such a clear image of a young kid whose identity is being constantly questioned by those around him, even though he wants to explore the truth that he knows has always lived inside of him.

I wish everyone a Happy Pride! Let’s continue to support each other while we stay strong, keep learning, resist, and be proud ❤ Enjoy these jams!