Manhattan Dreams

Art by Joe Kelly
Art by Joe Kelly

Manhattan was the setting where I could pursue being queerly perfect.  Manhattan was the place I wanted to have my original introduction to homosexual subculture.  New York City’s celebration of subculture and minorities was to be the place where I’d be amongst others who actively kept their queerness secret from family and friends because society won’t accept it.

With a false identity in place, I adventured beyond campus-boys to older gay males.  I quickly accepted invitations, hoping that I’d be a step closer to NYC-escape. Behind my more sophisticated and cool mask older men seemed more worldly and attractive. The Jodie Dallas specter faded from the peripheral of my concept of homosexuality, Sex & the City experiences that I had dreamed of seemed a greater possibility.  Instead of the Manhattan fantasy – theatre, dinners, and art galleries – I repeated my suburban youth in reverse.  This version though didn’t synchronize with the ticky-tacky boxes.  Now I saw behind the neighbors’ curtains, and I didn’t like it.  Calling them dates is using the term at its loosest.  The men that I went home with would close their curtains, citing their need for privacy.  As my perceptions grew I came to see “privacy” as a bent mirror to my rejection of the homosexual label.

Authentic Wants in a Mate

If “funny” or “sense of humor” is wanted, then what kind of sense of humor/funny? Sarcastic? Dry? Goofy? Everyone wants someone that’s intelligent – who wants to talk to a bag of rocks?  There are different intelligences; emotional, scientific, inter/intrapersonal, etc. Are you emotionally strong and don’t need someone to consistently ask “what’s wrong” because doing so would drive you insane? Every preference is valid and worthy, appealing to Each of those senses of humor appeal to personal preferences and a personalized way through life that would make them (and oneself) more appealing to go through life’s hardships together. A relationship is more likely to implode when personalities don’t click because one, or both, do not know what it is that makes them comfortable, happy, and synchronicity.

Knowing traits are specifically wanted in a mate, removing the broad fantasy of idealized traits, and knowing specifically what balances or engages oneself will help avoid dating or marrying someone else’s mate.  One way to do this in modernity is to think deeply and critically about the media and experiences that are engaged in.  What about that TV show or song brought the emotional response?  What memories are triggered?  Connecting pass-time enjoyments to memories enables authentic and vibrant emotional responses, that inform decisions leading to agency in life.  Critically learning the triggered responses from accumulated experiences and cultivated media-preferences, it is possible to lean on our authentic selves and not imposed idealized expectations to find fulfillment.

Verve (5/08-5/12)

NERDSI exist in a state of constant heartbreak, longing to be within a cozy weekend bubble with another.  In the past I sunk under the weight of pursing others like a puppy only to not be selected; my authenticity – the interests, experiences, and beliefs – has always existed on the peripheral of popular.

An element of fear of abandonment became engrained in middle school when everyone began experimenting with relationship dynamics.  Every student appeared to pair-off, leaving me feeling alone.  During this delicate time, I turned to the people around me as models of domesticity, which did not perfectly reflect what felt natural to me.  In culture role-models were Ellen DeGeneres when she came out while I was in high school, but unfortunately her breezy character became heavy, angry, and hurt  The relationship her character presented was full of drama and bickering.  Queer as Folk on Showtime presented more of the same, but this time heavy drug use was included.  I was in college by that time and finally saw healthier homosexual relationships, through Will Graham, Will & Grace, was single through the majority of the show’s run, having serious relationships after the show found success.

The domesticity on Will & Grace was not perfection, but the characters created a bubble of playing house.  I wanted to emulate the relationships by running errands, sharing chores, and cooking together.  Our existence would be dictated by shared calendars and outings.  It would be teamwork and comradery.  I crafted doctored acceptable variations of myself, believing my exposed self would not be good enough.  The knowledge my authenticity granted was deferred to others in an effort to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating chaos that would ultimately result in the relationship imploding.

Mindy Project’s Road to Authentic Expectations

The Mindy ProjectMindy Kaling and her show The Mindy Project is the Tuesday show that has kept me afloat through its 5 years; I will miss the show after it ends with the upcoming sixth season.  Mindy Kaling has crafted a model of modern dating and goal achieving for the Twenty-First Century.  Dr. Mindy Lahiri, Kaling’s character, was raised on romantic comedies with dreams of a Sex & the City life.  As Mindy experienced dating and professional life in the 21st Century was met with equal success and zany; Mindy was not the female lead that was successful at work and unlucky in love.  The Mindy Project traces Mindy’s dating adventures and mishaps and success moving away from imposed celebrity-rom-com fantasy world to realistic expectations based upon her own experiences.

Dr. Lahiri’s dating life reflected the process that many single adults must go through as they seek their ideal mate.  Throughout the course of the series Mindy begins her dating life with big eyes and rose-tinted glasses – she was Carrie searching for her Mr. Big, and nothing less would do.  As adults go through dating our list of traits wanted in another is extremely generic, stating broad character traits such as “attractive”, “funny”, “smart”.  In her unique way Mindy, also, is specific in her list-of-wants by associating each desired trait with a celebrity.  Mindy learns to create specificity in her desirable trait-list, through the boyfriends, and husband (then ex), as she travels through the show’s run.  Mindy began the show searching for her Bradley Cooper/Ryan Gosling-idealized, an old school alpha-male that would make the decisions in the relationship, and she ended up with Danny Castellano – who manipulated the relationship to push Mindy to abandon her work goals to be a stay at home mother.  Danny’s actions acted counter to the experiences that strengthened Mindy’s character, pushing her to remain a static character.  When she learned of Danny’s manipulations, rather than shrink and lean on her fantasies, Mindy chose to lean on herself and the goals she had developed through her experiences.  She chose to leave Danny based upon the cultivated, and critically examined, experiences she accumulated in The Mindy Project‘s acclaimed run, leading to a happier, more fulfilling and honest relationship with geeky, modern, and accepting fiancé Ben; whose personality and needs better balanced Mindy than Danny.

Oliver & Company

 

 

Just as Oliver was the remaining kitten in the box came to reflect the emotional isolation that came with identifying as queer and homosexual throughout middle and high school, watching other students pair off to experiment with the opposite sex, removing early relationship templates for later.  Being separated from his peers Oliver fell into friendship with Fagin and his dogs parallels the friends that homosexuals find in similar people, which could appear dangerous and scary for parents; either because of disapproval or knowing how difficult life would be for the child.  Then Oliver meets Jenny, the rich girl, who offers him the opportunity of life of acceptance, which is based upon the fact that Jenny doesn’t truly know Oliver other than she wants a kitten.  For queer identity development Jenny represents the dreams and goals that are imposed by the majority.  At this point Oliver, like young outsiders, is conflicted between the world they have discovered on their own and the heteronormative, and so chooses neither life, which endangers both.  Only at the end when both worlds, that Oliver doesn’t want to meet, do meet is he able to find happiness in his identity and create unique goals for himself.

 

Oliver & Company painted the picture of New York City that was populated with people that were similar to me.  New York City was a world that was tailored to me.

 

 

 

Queer Icon – Rihanna, Queen of Cool

Queer Icon - Rihanna, Queen of CoolRihanna epitomizes the queer cool icon.

No matter what Rihanna is doing, or where she is appearing, she owns what is occurring.  Rihanna has an agency over and openness about her sexuality, she has enormous grace and she’s immensely talented.  Her own transformation and artistic control mirrors the metamorphosis of gay identity.  Similar to how she felt controlled by the blueprint of Def Jam’s pop-princess homosexual and queer youth prescribe to labels and group mentality, dividing amongst terminology, titles, and descriptors.  Applying to the homosexual and queer labels takes the idea of who one should be without the process of figuring out the subtleties of identity.  As the queer identity enters the bigger world, either through college or independent living, a darker edge manifests itself, which can take the form of hard partying and sex to radical politicism.  Regardless of the form that it takes, at this juncture the identity takes the antithesis of who they previously exhibited themselves to be.  Rihanna reached this juncture in her own career when she released Good Girl Gone Bad, which was followed by Rated R where she, like queer identity, began separating from the molds and terminology that had been used in the construction of their identity.  What followed for both Rihanna and queer identity was the investigating of other labels, while still safely staying within expectations.  For Rihanna this changed with the release of Anti, when she had accumulated enough hit-maker cache to have control over how she presented her identity.  Queer identity development has a similar moment, when life experiences add up to acceptance on the level that one is accepted for the labels they self-apply, and the ones they do not.

Dream Home – Kitchen

The kitchen is rustic and French with plenty of work space that run along the walls, with a rolling island that allows the room to retain an open feeling.  There is light filling the white and natural wood filled room from a window that is over the in-counter brass country sink.  Storage and the pantry are beneath the counter space on display in glass containers.  The appliances are warm red and teal, designed to appear country and antique.  Eighteen inches from the ceiling runs a shelf around the kitchen that holds knick-knacks, which provide character that anchor the décor in a whimsical domestic fantasy.

My home would be my showplace, covering up for the tragic flaws that I believe cast me as inferior.  Placing the heavy belief that material things will bring me at the very least approval, if not validation.  In an effort to grab at validation the subtler aspects of my personality are bulldozed over by generalizations that come with décor shorthand.  The harder I work towards the materials that’ll bring me validation, the less easy it has been to achieve that validation.  This is because what is validated is not who I am but a façade.

Dream Home – Bedroom & Bathroom

The bungalow’s salon has French doors that lead directly to the bedroom.  Three of the bedroom’s walls are painted different shades of cement grey, with a darker tone for the trim.  The fourth wall is large bubble glass that faces the backyard, and open to the porch.  An ornate Ottoman stained glass room divider obscured the bed from the glass.  A long installed curtain rod ran across the ceiling with green and watermelon sheer curtains that could be drawn.  There is a Victorian fainting couch next to the French doors.  In the corner is a large mirror.  There are four armoires in the room: one against the wall to the side of the mirror, and the other three lined the parallel wall.  The wrought iron bed, with antique white European country chairs acting as side tables, are in the center of the room, with a black rug underneath.

Opposite the bubble glass is the bathroom, which is black and white art deco with subway tile, and accented with green and bamboo.  The free-standing sink, toilet and claw footed bathtub, are porcelain; the rainforest shower and fixtures are nickel.  There’s a small door across the bathroom entry that leads to a laundry room.

 

Dream Home – Office & Salon

In my future bungalow there is a writing office off the back porch, overlooking the coy pond, is a small writing office with a square wooden coffee table.  On the porch is a loveseat that overlooks the coy pond.  Through floor to ceiling glass doors is a particularly large salon; curtains are red and gold cotton.  Along the left hand wall fireplace juts out from a brick wall.  Above the fireplace is original artwork.  The fireplace is flanked by floor to ceiling built-in shelves filled with books and candles.  A small slim HD-TV sits on a rolling table out of the way.  In the center of the room is a rug, on top of which is a couch, antique Byzantine conversation couch, and two chairs huddled around a coffee table.  Strewn about the coffee table are periodicals.  Between the couch and the fireplace is an eight-person dining table, with two wing back black chairs at the heads of the table; the remaining six are three pairs of Edwardian chairs.  The right hand wall, where the fireplace is, made-up a library of antique books.  The parallel wall is lined in tiers trailing many feet to the ceiling is a large art collection.

Verve [4/3-4/8]

I do not know what worldly possessions I am working towards.  When I stand still, what style home am I living in?  What objects do I use to define myself?  How will I measure success?  Where do I want to live?  Living in wintry Upstate New York, has given me a desire to live somewhere with only 3 seasons – spring, summer, and fall.  I’d be willing to go as far south as Virginia.  It would need to be a metropolitan area because I enjoy the culture that is provided.  A metropolis would also allow for me to not need a car, and I could rely on public transportation such as a subway or elevated train.  The essential question is: where do I see myself inn 5, 10, or 15 years?  The future isn’t something that I have put much thought into.

My dream home is a bungalow that is a handsome u-shaped Italian Renaissance Revival-style exterior face of brown brick, sandstone, and panels of terracotta details.  A geometric wrought iron fence encases the backyard’s coy pond and fountain.  The courtyard reaches inside flooding the bungalow, creating ever-changing shadows and accents.  The porch is pale glazed brick, ornamental cast iron, Mexican floor tiles, and polished wood.