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Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 5

It was one of those fairy tale moments; a guy I’d been swooning over for a year or so and I had asked me for a date once he returned home from the holidays abroad. In my fairy tale, I was the princess (or maybe just the gay prince) who met another gay prince at the ball, fell for him, and was asked to dance with him before his entire court and all of his constituents. They watched in awe, knowing how wonderful a couple the two princes were, happy to see their separate kingdoms (his Cypress and mind Washington Heights) may someday become one. Only, in my fairy tale, I was also sleeping with another prince who hailed from the Kingdom of the Woodlands, but we weren’t exclusive, so it didn’t make me slutty.

But just like in every fairy tale, there arose a slight … complication.

Let us say that one of my many loyal subjects—in this case, my ex-boyfriend, Kevin—ran into me (still a prince in this scenario) at a local peasant pub, where I’d gone incognito to enjoy a drink with my lessers. There, Kevin stated he’d heard of my impending courtship and was happy I’d found someone new. He had but one question:

“What are y’all going to do about the sex?”

“Huh?” I asked Kevin, my kingdom suddenly under attack.

“Well … you’re both tops,” he explained, as though this were off-hand information I should have known. And just like that, my fairy tale was over. The dragon couldn’t be slayed. The land had been plagued by famine and locusts. Evil had triumphed over good; and, apparently, evil was a top.


Just like any athlete preparing for a big game, it felt necessary that I practice bottoming before the big night with Tyler, the aforementioned prince, which was still a week out. I figured that seven days was plenty of time to prepare myself not only physically, but also mentally for the pounding I was about to take.

I hadn’t the slightest idea as to what I was looking for when I entered the sex shop and was greeted by a wall of cocks in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and girths. The saleswoman was helpful, if not a bit intrusive, about what I was looking for and what I was hoping to do. I let her know immediately that I wasn’t there shopping for a new Bible. She responded to my cattiness the way most straight women react to gay men—with amory.

Soon, we’d settled on the Billy P-spot vibrator by Lelo, as it came in a lovely Bordeaux color in which I briefly considered painting an accent wall in my kitchen. I soon decided against it, unsure of how I’d sneak my new vibrator into Lowe’s to compare the color to paint swatches.

Next came the more technical and often confusing side of the shopping: lube, toy cleaning products, a little weed, and—for better or for worse—an enema. I knew before I’d even locked myself in my bedroom that this process was going to take time. I canceled plans; I poured myself a glass of wine; I lit enough candles to warm the inside of a frozen Hot Pocket;  I put my phone on airplane mode; I smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves, and then a bowl to actually calm my nerves. I was absolutely certain that I could not screw this up, but was almost just as certain that I was going to end up doing so anyway.

You have to keep in mind that my entire adult, gay life, I’ve only ever topped. Maybe it would have happened differently if I’d ever been in a situation where I wasn’t the only top. But in the years I’d been slutting it up from The Woodlands down to Galveston (not to mention a few times in DC, Indianpolis, Denver, San Diego, Orlando, and a few other major metropolitan areas), I’d always had the good fortune of falling into bed with bottoms. This was a new experience to me, yet not one to which I was vehemently opposed. In fact, I’d always told myself that I would someday do it if I were to fall for a guy that I liked enough to try.

But that was just the thing: it had to be the right guy. And in spite of how I’d opined over Prince Tyler for so very long, I wasn’t certain that he was anything more than just a frog in this fucked up fairy tale. Although, it was lucky that I now had Billy the Vibrating Wonder to use as a magic wand to find out.

So, stoned out of my mind, I laid down in bed after cleaning things out … you know … downtown. I sipped my wine through a straw, pulled off my clothing, and began to lube up.

There’s something bottoms don’t tell you about lube … it’s fucking messy. I briefly considered watching porn during this journey into my entertainment center, but it only took a few seconds before the lube was already getting everywhere, and I decided a laptop may not be the best thing to have nearby while that was the case. Instead, I let my mind wander, turning on the vibrator to its lowest setting and pressing it against my body. Obviously I didn’t go straight for home base. I worked my way around, actually enjoying the vibration against my neck, my chest, my penis, and my perineum (that’s science for “taint”).

And the truth of the matter was that I was really turned on. I mean, if my penis were a teapot, it would’ve been whistling like a lesbian gym teacher during volleyball season. And after a while—and I do mean a while, as I was still pretty freaked out at this point—I began inserting Billy into my end zone.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in way over my head … or at least … my legs were.

“It was awful,” I said after gulping down a glass of cabernet.

I was joined at Barnaby’s on Fairview by my friends Elaine (straight, married, ginger), Jackie (straight, married, not a ginger), and (oddly enough) Ezra.

“It’s not for everyone,” Ezra told me, a sore reminder that if he could have just fallen in love with me when he had the chance, I could have bypassed this entire situation for the rest of my life.

“I’ve always wondered, how do two men decide how this is going to go?” Jackie asked. “Do you have a discussion before hand? Is there like a sign?”

“A lot of times,” Ezra answered before I could, “when people meet on apps, it’s in their biography. Top, bottom, versatile. Or, yeah, there’s a discussion.”

“But if there’s not?” Jackie asked.

I looked around, trying to keep my volume down as not to disturb everyone that still had an appetite inside the restaurant. “It’s kind of like when you and I go to Olive Garden,” I told her. “You know, because we’re human garbage. But what happens when the waiter puts the breadsticks on the table? We shove them into our gaping mouths. And why? Because we’re—”

“Fat,” Jackie interrupted.

“Okay, well, I was going to say hungry, but that’s fair.”

“So … what you’re saying,” Elaine picked up, “is that there’s …”

“A hungry butthole,” I said. “It’s okay to say it. There are signs. They’re not the signs of real hunger, like your stomach growling or light headedness. They’re signs like a guy wrapping his legs around you when you get into bed to have sex. Or sometimes something a bit like …” I struggled with my verbiage, “… presenting.”

“As in a guy just flashes his anus to another guy like a mating chimp?” Elaine asked.

“As in his body language isn’t as phallocentric as a top’s might be. He dances and shows off his ass. He moves your hands down there when you have your arms around him. He sits on your lap. Those sorts of things.”

“I don’t know that there’s any fact in what you’re saying,” Ezra laughed.

“There is. It’s not like there’s a study on this somewhere. It’s just observation. You wouldn’t know because … well … you’re a bottom.”

“I’m glad you bring this up,” Elaine chimed in. “Because there are times when my husband gets a little fiesty and thinks that we’re going to go down there for that particular activity. And I’m not about it. For women, there isn’t any pleasure. We don’t have a prostate to stimulate. It’s just a lot of soreness and feeling like you’re shitting yourself the entire time.”

Everyone laughed as the other patrons of the restaurant darted glares at us.

I poured more wine. “The soreness is the worst. You’re lucky I could even come here tonight. I feel like a Mormon after a very long bike ride.”

Ezra nodded toward my wine glass, “Just drink your medicine. It’ll get better.”

“Listen, there’s not much I say no to in bed,” Elaine went on. “But I told Charlie,” (Elaine’s husband), “that it’s not that I don’t love him. But he’s very well endowed; and if he wants to do anal more often, he’s going to have to let me shove something up his ass and see how he likes it.”

“He might just,” Ezra pointed out.

“Yeah, straight people are apparently doing that now,” I said. “Pegging, they call it. All our lives straight people have wanted to point out all the things that are wrong with being gay, and yet they want us to decorate their houses like ours, and be their best friends like we are with each other, and help them pick out clothes like we do. And now they’re wanting to have sex like we do!” I knocked back the rest of my wine. “It’s appropriation, and it’s insulting.”


Screen-Shot-2018-01-09-at-3.25.21-PM ... and the The Hungry ButtholeA few nights later, once my not-so-hungry butthole had stopped aching, I received a text message from the other man I was sleeping with on the regular—the Prince of The Woodlands and, in spite of the fact that our relationship was mostly sexual and not exclusive, the man I had saved in my phone as this while drunk one night:

 

Most of our conversations started out that way. We’d hooked up a few weeks ago after chatting on Grindr, and he had turned out to be one of the sweetest and hottest guys I’d ever had sex with in my life. A part of me sort of felt I might be catching feelings, but I tried to scrub these away as often as I could. His name I hadn’t learned until well after our first sexual encounter, but turned out to be Dylan.

I grabbed a bottle of wine from Spec’s and headed from my house to the Woodlands—no short drive when you live in Downtown Houston. Still, I was horny and Dylan was hotter than a ghost pepper in the heat of a Texas July. I was still struggling with this aspect of our sexual relationship. Dylan was certainly way out of my league and I struggled to meander my mind away from my own self-deprecation to just appreciate his hotness when we were fucking around. Still, he kept coming back.

While having sex that night, I noticed that something was different about Dylan. He was not presenting as he had the last few times we’d hooked up. In fact, Dylan had taken on a much stronger dominance in the bedroom than he ever had before. Every time I reached my hand down for his ass, he’d push me down on my back and crawl on top of me to kiss me.

The sex was incredible, don’t get me wrong. In fact, his newfound assertive attitude was a great turn-on; and somewhere there in throes of passion, I found Dylan spreading my legs apart and crawling between them.

A part of me panicked, as I knew exactly was about to happen. Dylan was going to try to stick his dick inside of me and I was going to have to be that person who shut down a good thing because it took a turn I wasn’t there for. After all, Dylan’s penis was huge for a white dude four inches shorter than me, and I certainly didn’t want something even larger than Billy the Vibrating Nightmare inside of me after the other night.

But Dylan did something I wasn’t expecting, in spite of its commonplace nature for him. He took his hands and placed them on mine, palm-to-palm and fingers intertwined. Then he kissed me, and he whispered to me, and he nibbled on my neck and traced lines up and down my body with his tongue. And all the while that he performed these magical sex acts, my legs crawled and curled around his body like ivy up a trellis.

I was in an unexpected euphoria and an unwavering state of ecstasy. I was sweaty and writhing and my hair was likely knotted in the back from moving around so much on my back like an upside-down crab. But suddenly I found my legs not only wrapping around Dylan, but pulling him in closer to me, pushing his pelvis into me and wanting him more and more. It was in that moment that I realized it was me! I was the one who had the hungry butthole! I was suddenly back to my fairy tale in which my sage keepers—fairies or dwarves normally, but in this case, Billy the Vibrator—found me at my journey’s end to tell me that what I’d been looking for was inside of me all along.

Or at least … now it was.

The orgasm was insane. It was not like any other I’d had before. I screamed at one point, which is dangerous when you’re fucking against a wall against which neighbors sleep on the other side. I was clutching at Dylan’s skin like a cliff I had to take hold of as not to fall to my death. But when it was over, I didn’t hang around to chat like I normally would have. I didn’t drink any more wine and I barely kissed Dylan goodbye. I bolted. Right out the door, right down the stairs, right into my car, and right to the bar.

At some point when the endorphins had subsided, it had occurred to me as I lay there, soaked in sweat and semen, that my rule had always been that I would bottom if I ever met a guy that I liked enough to go through with it for.

And as I arrived at the bar, taking a shot and downing a drink, I couldn’t help but ask myself the same question over-and-over again: Was Dylan the right guy? Or, conversely, was it possible that every now and then, under the right circumstances and with a man who knows exactly what he’s doing, every gay man is capable of possessing a hungry butthole?

Scenes from the Queer Side: Shame, Desire, and the Imaginary

Blue is the Warmest Color Pariah Queer Black Woman Film

Perspectives on Blue Is the Warmest Color and Pariah and how it molded my stages of queerness from a queer, Black woman.

Have you ever sat in a room with Shame? Listened to her suck her teeth and watch her shake her head? Felt the growing fear that she’ll whisper your deepest secrets and fears into the ears of those around you?

I often sat with Shame, coming from a Black Southern Baptist background; but it was one particular night that she felt strongest. She slammed my laptop shut as the loud moans, heavy breathing, and slapping blasted through my headphones. She giggled as I glanced around the pitch black room for something or someone. She convinced me to open my door, creep into my living room, and hold my breath, listening for the voices or breathing of someone in the suite, although I knew that my suitemate had gone for the night and that I was totally alone. She convinced me someone could hear the sounds from my headphones–that they would point and yell, “She looking at that gay shit, y’all!” But I didn’t let Shame have her way. Once I was confident that the suite was empty, I quieted her down, opened my screen, and continued watching with her looking over my shoulder.

Blue-Warmest-Color Scenes from the Queer Side: Shame, Desire, and the ImaginaryI had been watching the film Blue Is the Warmest Color, which stars Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos and is directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. Three hours of an intense love between two young french girls, Adele and Emma, unfolding. Blue Is the Warmest Color–originally a graphic novel I read and loved while working at a bookstore–was adapted into a film by a problematic director. Think-pieces and critiques journaled the violence,inappropriate behaviors, and methods that Kechiche employed throughout the film, specifically the sex scenes. Viewers watch as Adéle, characterized by her messiness and insatiable hunger, struggles to find fulfillment in her desires until the moment she meets Emma, a blue-haired artist. The two fall in love, live together, and ultimately break up after Adéle cheats on Emma. The film ends with the two reconnecting and parting at Emma’s art show as adults.

The film is filled with scenes where viewers are forced to come face to face with Kechiche’s misguided image of womanhood and women’s sexuality in Blue Is the Warmest Color. One moment, in particular, is a scene where a queer male character talks over lesbian characters about female sexuality and expressions of desire. This character speculates about women’s desires and bodies while simultaneously assuming authority over the subject. This moment, not included in the graphic novel and constructed by Kechiche, could have been a space where the women’s politics of desire were addressed, especially in a lesbian space, instead their voices are hidden. It is not until I watch again that I am able to listen to the words of the women, enjoy and understand the looks they share, and the intimate ways desire manifests as they “listen” to the words of the queer male character. This scene, although problematic, proves to be important because it attempts to use desire in dialogue. How is desire constructed and manifested in the lives of these characters. Adéle, who struggles and explores her politics of desire throughout the film also happens to be absent from the conversation. Nevertheless, this scene manages to connect, for me, a construction of desire and experiences of shame.  

2893947-women-adele-exarchopoulos-blue-is-the-warmest-color-water___people-wallpapers Scenes from the Queer Side: Shame, Desire, and the Imaginary

Moments that I find myself drawn to, both the first time I watched and during my most recent experience watching the film, include scenes such as a queer male character talking over some of the lesbian characters about female orgasms. Here we can get a glimpse of the thoughts and opinions of Kechiche. The scene, at first confusing and intriguing, becomes annoying and unnecessary. Why? Because it presents a male character speculating women’s desires and bodies while simultaneously assuming authority over the subject. It’s easy for me to skip the scene altogether.

Later in the film, there’s a pivotal moment when Adéle’s friends confront her about her sexuality when they watch as she walks off with Emma, who they believe to be queer. There is a violent desire and demand for Adéle to explain herself and her relationship with the mysterious woman. We see Adéle react aggressively to the accusations of her lesbian identity. I was, once again, forced to come to face-to-face with shame in all of its manifestations. What during my first viewing seemed to be a shame solely resting on my shoulders as the viewer, erased the shame that manifested for the characters in the film, specifically Adele. The shame Adele feels having her friends confront aggressively and publicly shaming her, as well as the shame she feels for having these feelings of desire and curiosity that Emma brings to life in her.

Nevertheless, Blue Is the Warmest Color offers viewers a chance to watch young lesbian love in seemingly pure and honest ways. There are moments of tenderness and warmth, such as when the two share their first kiss in a park and Adéle leans back to smile. Then there’s a scene when they are at a Pride event, dancing and kissing and loving one another. The most notable is when the two are seated on a bench in the park kissing, touching, and giggling with each other. These are the moments where they just exist in young love. There is no shame.

After my first time watching it, I was eager to share it with my friends. I watched Blue twice more with my straight friends who had read the articles and think-pieces about the film. Our feminist studies background urged us to dissect the male gaze and the violent need for men to insert themselves in queer relationships. But I didn’t really want that to dissect the film or approach it academically. I would have rather spoken about how it sat in and on my body; how it followed me for weeks and tugged at the politics of desire I had long ago buried — or so I had thought. So the conversation, for me, felt unfulfilling. Only one of my friends, my closest friend since high school, allowed me the space to talk about how important the moment of watching the film was for me. No critiques, no dissections, just my reflections and emotions as I finally had access to something else: for me to share my feelings of curiosity and discomfort. This friend was the only person who also managed to see a small moment of freedom for me–a freedom she commended while she sat with it with me. . That moment managed to disrupt the shame that had haunted me.

maxresdefault-1 Scenes from the Queer Side: Shame, Desire, and the ImaginaryFor months afterwards I poured into lesbian films and television shows on Netflix, albeit annoyed by all of the white women.There is undoubtedly an erasure of queer and lesbian black women and women of color in television and film. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Pariah as a recommendation. Pariah follows a young, black, “closeted” lesbian, Alike, who lives in the Bronx with her parents and her younger sister. We watch Alike attend school, write poetry, and attend church with her family during the day. During her off time–those moments when she is not forced to present as straight and can explore her lesbian identity–she travels and explores the city’s lesbian scene with her best friend who dresses her up in masculine clothing and pushes her to talk with other girls. Pariah looks and feels different. There are friendships, homophobic parents, creativity, and heartbreak. There is blackness and confusion.

Notable moments and scenes from this film include a moment where Alike’s best friend, a masculine lesbian, purchases her a strap-on for her “image”. Alike is uncomfortable and angry at the small white dildo attached to her body and begs her friend to return it.  Her friend urges her to wear it out that night and we see Alike awkwardly move in it and fumble with it moments before ignoring the girl her friend attempts to set her up with. I love the scenes where Alike seems her most vulnerable — standing in the mirror with her closest friend, tugging and shifting a symbol of masculinity, highlighting how foreign it is to her. It also highlighted the intimacy between the two friends. Other scenes include an unnamed masculine lesbian buying beer only to be harassed by a black man who seems to be disgusted, but also threatened, by the woman’s masculinity and sexuality. Pariah felt like a different film because it did not follow the love and relationship of two lesbian women, but rather chronicled the experiences of a black teenager exploring her lesbian identity and masculinity alongside the relationships around her. Balancing life where her sexuality is hidden or suppressed alongside a life full of moments where she feels celebrated and nurtured, which seem rare throughout the film. There is shame and discomfort. Unlike Blue, I did not share this film with others. Pariah was a film just for me.

pariah Scenes from the Queer Side: Shame, Desire, and the ImaginaryYears later, I rewatch it and realize there are moments and habits from Alike–early moments of queerness–that I understand and to which I can relate. Her excitement for the possibility of love and intimacy alongside the fear of actually having love and intimacy. Her feelings of not being masculine enough or queer enough are made visible throughout the film’s entirety. Shame stalks Alike in similar fashion to the ways Shame stalked me. Pulling away from the kiss her friend shares with her and the feeling of being rejected. I understand why, years ago, the film sat with me and why–unlike Blue–it still sits with me to this day. I can still identify the shame, although now it does not haunt me. Because for me, queerness felt like something I was near but could not quite touch. It was with me but it was not in me. Today, I recognize that feeling as a part of the shame I felt and its many faces. Out and at another phase in my life and queerness, the films look and feel different to me. Blue is no longer important to me.; instead, watching it feels exhausting and drawn out, but I see moments, such as Emma’s fight with her friends, as a moment of gasping for breath and holding on to “normalcy”. While watching I can make phone calls, send e-mails, and watch videos as it plays in the background; but that fight brings me back. The moans, and breathing and slapping mean nothing anymore, and I don’t turn it down or search nervously around the room.

I watch both Blue Is the Warmest Color and Pariah as though I’m watching through new eyes. I’m also noticing the difference between watching something in shame and watching something with shame in it. Watching something in shame feels alienating and lonely. Watching something with shame in it feels like looking in a mirror. I am not isolated, rather I am forced to contend with a familiar feeling. I notice that watching something with shame in it (Pariah) sits with me because it feels so close to home.

I imagine my life consists of several phases in queerness; and queer films influenced these phases. There are the early days, your Before Queer (BQ) days. These were the days before I recognized my queerness, much less claimed that queerness. It was hard to imagine queerness or feel what it was like. But queer films provided the space for freedom and creativity that weren’t allowed in the BQ days, and allow you to imagine a queer future. Queerness was there and it was in me, but I did not see it nor did I live it. Then there were my Lost Queer (LQ) days–those days where I saw the queerness and recognized it, but was unable to claim it. It was where I could slowly imagine a queer future and a queer sense of being. Lastly came the Hella Queer (HQ) phase. It is where I am now. Where I have claimed queerness, where I can only imagine queerness, feel that queerness, and share it with those around me.  

That happened because, before watching those films, I had worked hard to suppress my queer imaginary as an act of protection. But watching those films allowed me to give my suppression a rest and exist in a queer world. As a young queer woman coming into queerness and coming out to those around me–as well as to myself–these films were monumental. I watched both films for the first time in my earliest days as a young queer, Black woman, attending my college campus queer organization as an “ally”. These films allowed me to step from behind the façade and sit in the in-between–the in between of my identity, and the in-between of fear and freedom, a vast space where confusion rests. My own in-between.

This is a hello to the queer imaginary as it forms, grows, and struggles to manifest in my day-to-day life and experiences of fighting it, loving it, hiding it, and letting it in. I jokingly refer to both of the films as The Films That Made Me Gay. What they really are, however, are the films that helped me come into queerness on my own terms. This is my first written piece as an out queer writer, creating content that brings to life those worlds and spaces that manifest in my queer imaginary. 

LGBTQ Advocate Kathy Griffin Delivers More Than Just Jokes

Kathy Griffin LGBTQ Comedy Houston Donald Trump

After a year of being disavowed by Hollywood, attacked by the Oval Office, and shunned by many fans, Kathy Griffin returns to Houston on her new tour triumphant.

“In the words of my new friend, Robert Di Nero, ‘Fuck Trump!’”

KGPP-page-001 LGBTQ Advocate Kathy Griffin Delivers More Than Just Jokes
Photo by Eric Edward Schell of Houston’s Pride Portraits.

This opening line set the precedent (or, should we say ‘president’) for the rest of the evening of stories regaled to an audience by one of Donald Trump’s largest opposers and one of the LGBTQ community’s most long-standing and active advocates. Kathy Griffin, the self-proclaimed D-list celebrity who became one of the many faces of the resistance against President Donald Trump, detailed for over three hours last Monday night the events of the last year that launched into a world-wide spotlight after she released a photo of herself holding up what appeared to be Donald Trump’s bloody head (in reality: a Halloween mask covered in ketchup). Kathy, keeping true to her storytelling manor of comedy, kept the laughter coming but also allowed herself to become real and vulnerable as she laid out the details of the threats against her life and the lives of her family.

As a disclaimer, I’m a huge Kathy fan. I’ve been each of her last three shows in Houston prior to this, buying pre-sale tickets the minute they become available online for purchase and following her on social medial. I have even attended a show the day after having my tonsils removed (thank god for pain killers). To say the least, this was the show for which I was living. I couldn’t wait for her to dish the tea … and boy did she she serve that shit up.

Throughout the entire night, Jones Hall in Downtown Houston was riddled with laughter, gay gasps, ‘Yas queens’, and slow applauses. I’ve often heard that a comedian’s material comes from their pain; and this couldn’t be more true in the cases of such stand-ups as Hannah Gadsby in her recent Netflix special Nanette. Kathy has done the same by taking her hardship, her blacklisting in Hollywood, and the multitude of death threats by turning her agony into material to use in a place where she is able to enable other women and Donald Trump resisters to stand up for their first amendment rights and to speak out against the atrocities of this administration. Recently, Griffin has teamed up with Stormy Daniels — the adult film star who has been said to have had a problematic affair with the president only to be later asked to never speak of it  — after Daniels was arrested at a Columbus, Ohio strip club for touching an undercover officer who asked to have a photo with the performer after her second show.

What I admire about the LGBTQIA community is that it’s a community that knows how to mobilize. I always say as a feminist, “We’ve got to learn from the gays, as women we bitch and moan, but gays actually get legislation done, they write bills, put candidates up and get them elected.”

— Griffin in her Pride Portraits statement about the LGBTQ community while in Houston

From being on Interpol’s travel advisory list to traveling internationally and being detained in multiple countries on her world-wide tour, Griffin has not let anything stop her from telling her story and speaking out against the administration. She has built up an alliance of other celebrities around the world that stand with her. But in that pain comes a greater deal of suffering — losing out of strong allies like former CNN New Year’s Eve co-host and longtime friend, Anderson Cooper. In a letter she read to the crowd from a fan in Florida, Kathy revealed that a gay man should never turn on a “fag hag”. The room erupted into laughter because … well … the truth is the truth. Kathy Griffin has been one of the few celebrities of our time that has — since the beginning of career spanning nearly 40 years — been a tireless and outspoken advocate for LGBTQ people, LGBTQ rights, and LGBTQ equality. It is no surprise that the one demographic that did not disown the comedy legend after her infamous Trump photo was the LGBTQ community.

The night was full of raw, unfiltered laughter, but it came with a strong political and emotional narrative. Mixed in with the stories of Trump where the usual dick jokes, use of language as foul as the word ‘cunt’, and regaling stories of Kim Kardashian and Kathy’s mother, Maggie Griffin. But in the end, it was a story of a woman the government try to silence, one they told told to shut up. Nevertheless … she persisted.

All-About-It LGBTQ Advocate Kathy Griffin Delivers More Than Just Jokes

Tricks and Treats, Pt. I

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Halloween

Less Than Butterflies, No. 2

It’s no secret that Halloween is gay Christmas. It’s not as though we’ve ever needed an excuse to dress up in costume or drag and attend some hedonistic party in Montrose where someone will certainly be distributing ecstasy in the bathroom while remixes of every song by every pop icon are blared in the dark, trembling background. But Halloween poses a different sort of spectacle than every other party in Montrose. Inhibitions are lost; time seems to slow; and there’s an affection for our friends that provides a kind of high not brought on by bathroom ecstasy or specialty shots.

Plus, we get a little bit sluttier. At least I do. I being the person who puts the ‘trick’ in ‘trick or treat.’

There’s no logic or rule that dictates why Halloween puts us in such good spirits. Maybe it’s something psychological. Maybe it’s all hype. Or maybe, just maybe, there is something truly magical about Halloween.

Even in my exhaustion after two long weeks with work-related affairs, I couldn’t move myself to peel away from the idea of attending my friend Stephen’s boyfriend’s Halloween party. It was an annual event—or it was at least becoming one—that had the year before proven to be like any other gay Halloween party: a genus of twinks in brightly colored underwear donning body glitter and angel wings. This, mind you, was at an American Horror Story-themed party. Stephen’s apartment was small and the air conditioning was hardly working. An hour in, everyone was sweating and trying to escape into the 90-degree outdoors just to catch a breath.

This year, however, Leo (Stephen’s boyfriend) had relocated the party to a friend and co-host’s townhome off Washington. The theme? Netflix’s GLOW—appropriately retitled as the Gays and Lesbians of Wrestling.

As per the usual, I was dateless. I’d invited Ezra to accompany me, but he was to visit friends in San Antonio for the weekend. Luckily, my friend Carter tagged along with me. Carter and I hadn’t been friends for long. Like most of my friends at the time, we’d met through Pride. Carter was 30, single, and sweet, and not at all my type. Still, he was a good friend and an intent listener and the kind of person who would do anything for anyone.

We drank a bottle of wine at Barnaby’s before heading toward Washington for the party. Upon arrival, it was clear that Stephen had already been drinking well before our arrival. My friend Courtney and her girlfriend, Jennifer were also there, dressed from neck-to-ankles in incandescent Lycra. Just as the year before, a large portion of the attendees had taken it upon themselves to ignore the theme of the party—myself included, as I was not sure I had the body type to be wearing fabrics with such elasticity.

That’s not true. I was sure. I was certain that I did not. I did, however, dress nice enough and put on some black lipstick just for the hell of it.

Stephen grabbed me by the wrist just after I’d made a drink and dragged me to a wet bar in the living room of the townhome. “Let’s do a shot!” he suggested with all the charisma of a Beyonce drag impersonator. But like with all things when it came to Stephen—shots, bottles of wine, valid points in a heated debate—one shot turned into several shots.

My background with Stephen was relatively short, but fast-paced in some rights. He was one of the very first people I’d met at Pride Houston when I was a first-year volunteer. To be completely honest, when we first met, I thought Stephen was cute. True, he was gross and sweaty from working all evening in the sun and was about 15-pounds underweight. But in his glasses and seemingly-nerdy disposition, I was initially attracted to him. For a while, my friend Alice and I couldn’t figure out his last name and took to referring to him as just Hot Stephen.

But much like books, a boy should never be judged by his cover. As I transitioned into my role as the volunteer chair for Pride, Stephen and I encountered each other more frequently. Real Stephen was vastly different from first-impression Stephen. He wasn’t as tightly wound and I don’t think I ever saw those glasses again. True, Stephen was a pretty boy, but he was also a boy who was spoken for and whose personality—regardless of whether or not he’d ever admit it—was too much like mine. Opinionated, mildly neurotic, a little slutty, and often drunk.

As my first year as a chair dragged on, Stephen and I saw a lot more of each other. Pride events and workdays eventually turned into drinks at the Eagle or numerous bottles of wine at Barnaby’s or birthday and dinner parties. The conversations that had once just revolved around our work with Pride grew inclusive of similar interests. Soon we’d become friends.

After a few more shots, I found myself standing outside on the balcony smoking a cigarette with some strangers from Mexico. One of the two was in medical school and in Houston for her internship. The other was presumably her boyfriend. A moment later, Stephen found his way outside to the patio.

“I knew you’d be out here smoking. I’m gonna lock you out,” Stephen said before engaging with the medical student and her boyfriend. When their own cigarettes were finished, they made a quick exit and Stephen and I had changed the topic to the busy week we’d had with Pride work, the party, and our friends inside. It wasn’t until the tail-end of the conversation that Stephen asked, “So, how’s Ezra?”

“I think he’s fine. He’s in San Antonio right now, if I’m not mistaken.”

He took a sip from his straw while gulping down some vodka as he goes, “Mhm. Mhm.” Once he’d swallowed and removed the straw from his mouth, he asked, “And what’s the deal with that?”

I paused just long enough to roll my eyes. “Nothing . . . ? We’re just friends.”

More, “Mhm. Mhm,” until he was slurping what remained of his vodka out of bottom of his Solo cup. “I’m gonna go get another drink. Have fun, though!” he told me as he slipped back inside. However, before he’d closed the door, Stephen poked his head back through the threshold and said, “You know, I’m really glad we became friends.”

I couldn’t help but smile a bit. Formerly Hot Stephen I knew nothing about had graduated into Close Friend Stephen, which turned out to be a good fit for him.

“God. You’re so gay,” I told him as I rolled my eyes, relatively unable to ever reciprocate kindness. He stepped back onto the balcony for a second and pointed to his cheek. I laughed, then gave him a kiss there, leaving a large, black lipstick stain under his cheekbone.

“You’re my favorite person in Pride,” he told me as he slid through the door and closed it behind him.

That was gay Halloween magic at its finest—bringing two very unlikely people together to be friends . . . even if both were extremely drunk.

Oddly enough, however, Stephen’s momentary mention of Ezra made me wonder what he was up to. I nearly pulled my phone from my pocket to text him, but realized it was late and that I shouldn’t bug him while he was out of town with his friends. I could gather, however, that Ezra probably wasn’t at some rager in San Antonio like I was in Houston. A part of me missed him. 

Regardless, I resolved to wander back inside and drink through it like a grown-up.

Although, as I turned to open the door back into the townhome, I made an attempt to turn the knob, rattling and shaking it until it became increasingly clear that Stephen had, in fact, locked me out on the balcony.

“Bastard.”

Read Part II here.