I crawled out of bed and plopped myself onto the olive green, velour couch in the living room. Practically on autopilot, I opened my white Macbook and clicked the iChat icon. I was still getting over a terrible breakup with my ex-boyfriend, Mike. My friends were his, and his were mine. I had no escape. I didn't want to see him. I didn't want anyone to ask me about him. I didn't want to be in Isla Vista. I was over UCSB and Greek life. I felt extremely lonely, and I was only willing to open myself up to a few close friends.
At that time, my GBF Hector lived in Orange County. He had been helping me cope with the breakup by videochatting with me daily, and by sending me episodes of his recent addiction -- the gay cult-classic television series Queer as Folk. I clung to these characters like they were my best friends. He'd send. I'd cry. We'd discuss.
Although Hector had come out of the closet only a few months prior, he was only my second ever gay friend. I had so many questions about homosexuality and what I perceived to be gay culture that I wanted him to answer. What do you think I should wear? How should I do my hair? Can you help me with my makeup?
Hector, a self-proclaimed "Broadway-loving homosexual," had no idea about fashion and thought it would be a good idea for me to make other gay friends by signing up on the hit Myspace-type website for gay men - dlist.com. I was hesitant at first. Hector literally begged.
"Please Veronica! Do this for me! C'mon! It will be fun!"
"Why? I'm not a gay man. This website is for gay men."
"Puh-leaaase Vee! You need to make other gay friends. I can't answer all your fashion questions. You need someone who can do your makeup. PLEEEAAASSSEEE!"
Of course, Hector probably had his own more selfish ulterior motives. Having an online wingwoman with no skin in the game might ease his entry into this otherwise intimidating community. After close to an hour of back and forth conversation about this controversial website, I finally signed up. Hector agreed to help create my profile. I made it clear that I did not want anyone to think I was a drag queen or a trans. For God’s sake, I had a real vagina. In an instant, my profile was up. "Lady VEEronica. I'm a real woman."
I added a few boys whom I deemed 'cute' and who I thought could do my makeup. I sent messages like "Hi! I think you're cute! Let's be friends. xo, Vee"
I left for class, and Hector continued to add people. Click. Click. Click. I was picky at first, but my interest in this website grew. It was like candy. I craved the attention, and I liked escaping my reality at UCSB. I sought solace within the fabulous world of DList, with people who didn't really know me. I felt like I was starting over. Something about not seeing someone face to face really allowed my nerves to dissipate. All they knew about me was what I listed in my profile, and what I said in my messages. And yet, I somehow felt more comfortable than ever letting my guard down and revealing things that had always made me feel self-conscious and vulnerable in real life. I could tell TXCheerleader00 about my recent hospital visit, and I knew he wouldn't judge. The gays taught me that I could have imperfections and problems, and still be beautiful and fabulous. Actually, they taught me that I was beautiful and fabulous.
I started to develop somewhat of a cache. Most boys approved my friend request instantaneously. Initially I was picky about whose requests I approved, but over time I became more lenient. Why not? I was becoming somewhat of a DList celebrity, and soon enough I had thousands of 'friends' all across the world.
One outlier repeatedly denied my friend request – a boy by the alias of JosephW. He looked about 16 with hazel eyes, prominent cheekbones, and light brown hair. I knew that my requests had been rejected because I still had the option to 'add' him, meaning that the request was no longer pending. Denied! But his hard-to-get attitude made me persistent. I continued to send messages. Looking back, my tactics were aggressive at best, creepy at worst. Joseph later said that he was ‘weirded out’ by a girl trying to add him, but his open mind eventually won out. After a bit of struggle, finally success!
Joseph and I agreed to meet face to face the following week at Avalon nightclub’s Thursday night event, "Tiger Heat." Avalon was a large, two-story, warehouse-style space filled with hot, sweaty boys, flashing lights, and the latest pop hits. At the time, I was still living in Santa Barbara, and the drive would take about an hour and a half. I could hardly make it 20 minutes without a bio break, but I wasn’t going to let my overactive bladder stop me. I took the 101 to the 405 South. I arrived around 10pm, parked my 2005 white Mustang, and stepped onto the street in white, patent leather pumps. I was ready for the night. Despite being alone, I didn't feel at all self-conscious. I was nervous, but amongst the gays I never felt like a fish out of water.
I met Joseph deep inside the club on the first floor. He was standing by a large speaker, and was accompanied by a friend, Austin, who had just come out of the closet. Actually, we joke that Austin had 'run' out of the closet. Tonight was his first time at a gay club, and she(1) was thirsty(2). Austin was about 6' tall and built like a linebacker. He was wearing black eyeliner and looked like a cross between Adam Lambert and Paul Bunyan. Austin was a recovering oxycontin addict from Reno. He met Joseph at the sober living house that they had both graduated to from rehab.
Joseph was much skinnier than I imagined. He had long twiggy arms and tiny legs, an American Apparel deep-v draped across his chest. Joseph's face was so pretty; I always thought that he should have been an androgynous model. This was my first encounter with a twink(3).
PS. This post is dedicated to my late friend Kevin Scott. You're always in my thoughts.
(1) She is a pronoun sometimes used by gay men when referencing other gay men.
(2) When one is thirsty, one is eager to get something.
(3) A twink is slang used to describe a boyish looking, often times hairless, gay male.