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Addicted Brings ‘AD Fetish’ Summer Line to Retailers

AD Fetish Addicted Kink Menswear Clothing Fashion 1

Menswear Line, AD Fetish by Addicted, Brings Summer Lovin’ into the Sex Dungeon

(NEW YORK CITY) – Ever since Olympic medallist and figure skater Adam Rippon showed up on the Oscars red carpet last month in an S&M inspired tuxedo that included a leather harness and bow tie, fetish has been everywhere! Now Addicted, the popular men’s wear line, is luring guys even deeper into the forbidden subculture with AD Fetish, their edgy collection of kink wear. The collection features stylish tank tops, jock straps, harnesses, singlets, lingerie, leather items and even cock rings, finely and meticulously crafted by Addicted’s superior artisan team. “Customers were craving a harder line of gear that re-imagined the Addicted brand for the S&M scene,” explains founder Eduardo Suner. “Our AD Fetish collection blends fashion with erotica. It offers the same quality, fit and comfort found in our popular sports collection, but as the new summer campaign depicts, takes the fun into the dark, steamy depths of the sex dungeon.”

FETISH2018_-6 Addicted Brings 'AD Fetish' Summer Line to Retailers
Photo by Leonardo Corredor

“The gear doesn’t just look good, it feels good,” continues Nir Zilberman, the brand’s USA agent. “The leather is softer than traditional fetish gear. Shirts and pants are tailored to fit every body shape perfectly. And while traditional fetish wear breaks or rips quickly, AD Fetish is built to last, even through the roughest play.”

“The team has had fun experimenting with materials such as rubber, leather, and transparencies for these latest creations,” says designer Carmen Monforte. “We were also careful to keep in mind the significance a particular color has to the community and the very specific message it delivers,” she adds. Traditionally, colors have been used to depict a guy’s sexual preference from blue meaning DTF to red, a more aggressive DTF, and yellow (DTF with water).

AD Fetish is the first fetish line from Addicted, the popular men’s wear company. Since 2009, the brand has been dedicated to the design, manufacturing and sale of men’s underwear, swimwear, and sportswear. It was founded by Eduardo Suner, also the founder of ES Collection, and has distinguished itself by setting trends and pushing the envelope in stylish, sexy and very wearable men’s fashion.

The AD Fetish collection is sold directly at, as well as at select retail partners worldwide.

It Happened to Me, Too

Less Than Butterflies Anthony Ramirez Gay Sex Love

Less Than Butterflies, No. 12

Less Than Butterflies is a regular sex column that follows the real-life sexual encounters of its author, Anthony Ramirez. In this case, unfortunately, the encounter was non-consensual and the story contains information that may be triggering to the readers. While it does not outline in graphic detail the sexual assault itself, it does speak about the events leading to it and that followed. Reader discretion is advised. 

I swear to God I predicted it. Or maybe I jinxed it. I’m not sure if this is one of those things you can Beetlejuice—as my friend Hope might say—but it had been on my mind a lot lately.

After all, just the weekend before I’d been sober at a bar where a friend was hosting karaoke when a man and his “wife” came stumbling out onto the patio shit-faced. The man tumbled directly into me, spilling some of his drink on my shirt. Then, as he reached for leverage as not to fall, his hand fell below my waist and cupped my genitals. It may have only lasted a few seconds, but it could have lasted an eternity as far as I was concerned. Hell, it could have lasted two eternities. How long is an eternity, really? Sure, he let go, but even as he did so, his hands fumbled around my torso, thumb grazing my nipple through my shirt.

I wanted to push him off of me, uncaring as to how drunk he was, but I stood there immobilized, frozen. In the back of my head, I could hear the nails-on-a-chalkboard-like chirp of a cuckoo clock, something I’d not heard in nearly half a decade. His wife, a woman boasting some sort of eastern European accent, grabbed her husband (albeit too late) and pulled him away from me, spouting off nonsense about how she’d put her stiletto through the eye of anyone that her husband ever laid his hands on, regardless of what the case was.

Was she blaming me? I’d been standing there alone smoking a cigarette when he’d bounced out the patio door like a Weeble, wobbling and falling into me. Besides, if she couldn’t tell that her husband was clearly a flaming homosexual, she had more problems than I could roll out onto the table for her.

That was the first uttering of Beetlejuice.

The following Monday, I’d been invited to an exclusive party at a new bar called Victor at the corner of Montrose and Richmond. Joining me as my date was my friend Taylor Kyle, whom I never saw much of since he worked all the time and lived all the way out in Cypress. We stayed at the party for a short while before heading over to Guava Lamp to catch another friend’s singing competition. After we left there, Taylor and I traveled up to the Room Bar in Spring to catch a few drinks before last call, where we met a few other friends I don’t often see.

When my friend Jeremy joined us on his way home from work, the three of us were having a nice little reunion of sorts. But on my neck I could feel eyes from across the bar. It took everything in me not to turn and look to see who the eyes belonged to, and eventually I conceded and turned upward. Staring directly at me was a man I’d seen at the bar a few times before. He was a bit pushy, I’d heard, but harmless nonetheless. Still, his glance was invasive and the smile he bore was nothing short of predatory as he drilled holes right into my skull with his gaze.

The others noticed it after a while, as well. A girl named Kelsey who worked at the tattoo shop next door kept catching my eyes and mimicking his face as a joke, which at first did make me laugh. Taylor told me not to pay him any mind, and Hope shrugged him off as nothing more than some pervy old man who hung around the bar to look at boys. A moment later, Jeremy and Taylor both had to use the restroom, and went together, leaving me sitting alone at the end of the bar. Hope asked me if I’d keep an eye on things while she ran into the back cooler to grab a bottle of liquor she’d run out of behind the bar; and in that moment, the man staring from across the bar took his chance to approach me.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been formally introduced before,” he told me, that ghastly smile curving into an ugly, crescent shape. I didn’t turn to look at him as he ran his hand across the small of my back before introducing himself and asking me my name.

“Please don’t touch me,” I muttered out in breathy, broken fragments.

“I’m sorry,” he said, although he never took his hand off my back and traced his fingers up my shoulders and around to the back of my neck. “I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re very cute.”

I was frozen, again. Every muscle inside of me tensed as if they were exercising and my breathing quit completely. I may have given him my name—I can’t really recall to be honest. What I do remember is hearing the bathroom door open behind me and the laughter of both Jeremy and Taylor coming from the bathroom. As they approached, I was finally able to untense and to exhale. And from behind I could hear the man asking Hope if he’d done something wrong once she reappeared behind the bar. I couldn’t tell what she was saying to him; but for the rest of the night I sat in near-silence turned away from both Taylor and Jeremy. No matter what I tried to change the thoughts in my mind to, no matter how I tried to distract myself or get drunk, I couldn’t stop feeling his thick, invasive fingers trailing me all over my backside.

A few times Jeremy and Taylor would ask what was wrong, and Taylor was sweet enough to put an arm around me and ask if I needed anything. But the two of them were not the problem. They’d done nothing wrong at all. I was just stuck inside my own head, where cuckoo clocks resounded like a child banging pots and pans together so loudly that I couldn’t stand to direct my attention anywhere else.

That was the second mention of Beetlejuice.

On the ride home, Taylor was drunk, and I was sober enough to drive as I’d not been drinking much at all that night. I was finally able to engage in conversation that was lighter, that didn’t send me into hysterics. And I did my best to apologize for coming off as a dick at the bar earlier.

“What was going on with you?” Taylor asked me as we were driving down the highway back toward Cypress.

I knew that if I chose to share it with him, if I chose to let him know that there was an actual person somewhere inside this cold, sarcastic shell I put off for the world to encounter, I wouldn’t be able to unshare it with him. But I also knew that there was a good chance he might not remember me telling him, at all … or, at least not in great detail. And somehow, that comforted me. I needed to get it off of my chest and to breathe a bit easier. What I did not know, however, was that by telling Taylor Kyle that I’d been raped by a friend at 19-years-old, before I’d come out of the closet, before I’d even really accepted myself as a gay man, I’d be uttering my third Beetlejuice conjuring.

And in not knowing, I shared it with him. I told him about the person I’d called a friend who took advantage of me. I told him how I had only recently begun sharing that story, because it only recently seemed okay to do so, and why it scared me to ever come forward in the first place. I did not, however, tell him that when I was reminded of it, when men groped my dick on bar patios or when strangers complimented me and ran their hands across my back I often heard the sound of cuckoo clocks drumming in my mind. It’s one of the very few things I remember clearly about that night: the old-timey cuckoo clock that hung on the wall and rung the hours as they passed both before and after I was raped.

Flash-forward a bit, and my day was going exceptionally well. I’d been busy work-wise; a radio interview, a work function, and had decided to round off my evening with a little karaoke at the Room Bar. A few of my friends were there, and Hope was all smiles behind the bar as she made drinks and poured shots. I wasn’t drunk when I arrived having just come from the aforementioned work event, although I imagine that by the time I was ready to leave, I was running on a strong buzz. Still, I didn’t want to spend the entire night getting smash-bag asshole drunk, so I left a while before closing to make it home, as the next day was set to be a busy one. I did make the decision, however, to visit a friend on my way home that I hadn’t seen in a long time who’d been asking to hang out for quite some time. But now as I reflect on it, all of that seems like nothing to me.

And I don’t mean that in the way as to say that it feels like nothing happened. I mean it to say that I can’t recollect a lot that happened in the moments after I left the Room. In fact, even being at the Room is a bit hazy. I can recall the songs I sang at karaoke. I can recall bidding everyone farewell and leaving, feeling fine. But the memory itself is rather foggy. I don’t think I felt foggy at the time, but trying to recollect on it sort of is.

I remember seeing my friend briefly—that is, the memory is brief—and I don’t believe the interaction was long. I remember telling him goodbye. I remember how tired he was. I think he may have even gone off to bed before I left. And I remember that, too—leaving. I didn’t at first, but now I can. But everything after that is just … black.

This is what I do remember:

I remember waking up the next morning in an near-bare apartment. In the middle of the floor, where I laid, there was an air mattress with no sheets. Across the room there was an old, ratty-looking couch. The walls were all bare and white as far as I could see, and there was no sign of anyone in the kitchen.

I wasn’t sure what was happening or how I’d gotten there, but from the moment that I jumped off the air mattress, I knew something was wrong. My head felt like someone had laid cement inside of it, and I fell down immediately upon trying to get to my feet. The room was acrid with the scent of disinfectant and it was cold. In fact, I could feel the draft against my thigh where I noticed a tear in my pants from knee-to-waist. As I finally put myself on both my feet, a sensation as if I was being split in half resonated from my anus. It hurt. And it hurt bad. My legs were sore on the insides of my thighs, as if someone had tried pulling them apart like a wishbone on Thanksgiving. I fumbled around in my pockets for my keys, but nothing was inside of them.

As I searched the room around me where nothing seemed to exist, I suddenly took note of some sort of table standing next to what appeared to be the front door. On it, all placed neatly as if done so by Mary fucking Poppins, I found my phone, my cigarette pack, my lighter, and my keys. Beside the odd table on the floor sat my shoes.

Snatching everything up, I took one last look around the room, then unlocked and darted out the front door.

More peculiar still was that the car was parked outside the apartment. As I raced down to it and jumped inside, I found that it was unlocked. The car was nearly out of gas—which made sense to me later when I realized how far I was not only from home, but from the Room and the friend I’d visited the night before—and in the passenger’s-side floorboard sat my wallet and my ID. When I opened up the former, however, I found that there was no money inside, nor were either my debit card or my credit card in their rightful place. For a moment I wondered why someone would take the cards and not the expensive Louis Vuitton wallet that couldn’t be traced back to me. But that thought was fleeting, as all of the thoughts were that went through my head while I navigated my way home. I tried tirelessly to call my mother, to call my best friend Gwen, to call anyone who could help me, but none of my calls were going through. The service on my phone was out; if I hadn’t been so good with direction, I might have had to stop at the nearest McDonald’s to use the WiFi to find out where the hell I was. But I knew the general area. Somewhere off of Airtex and I45. I’d been in the neighborhood before, but not for whatever reason I was there then.

I think for the first time since I was a child, I actually prayed on my way back to my mother’s house. I’m not sure if I was praying to God or if I just needed to hope that someone could hear me when I couldn’t speak, but nevertheless I carried on an inner-monologue asking for help, asking for the pain to subside, asking that I make it to my mother’s without running out of gas while I had no credit card.

And when I arrived without issue, my mother sat on her front porch smoking a cigarette as she said something to me. Maybe she asked why I looked so bad; maybe she asked me where I’d been; I couldn’t tell you. Because when I finally opened my mouth for the first time since waking, a jumble of words fell out that were meant to sound something like, “I think someone drugged me last night.” And when my mother leered at me from her perch, I added, “I think someone ra—”

But I couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence, because that’s when I lost all control. I don’t know that that’s when everything sunk in, but that’s certainly when it all came to the surface. In crooked fragments, I tried to relay the information I knew then and there. That my pants were ripped. That all of my money and cards were missing. That I was in insurmountable pain. That I couldn’t remember anything past being at the Room. And as I reviewed it all over-and-over again both verbally and in my mind, I began to understand what had happened.

For the second time in my life, I’d been raped.

And soon, I’d be in a clinic not having showered or eaten since the morning before where a doctor would put a large piece of paper down on the floor and ask me to disrobe in front of her. She’d take my clothes, and she’d brush through my hair, and she would swab me both externally and internally. She’d poke and prod me; and she’d find the new bruises on my waist and knees and tell me after having a thorough exam, it was not a question of whether or not I was correct about what had happened to me, but now a question of who did it.

And I?

I would be humiliated. I would leave there, and I would go about my business as the rest of the day carried on, unable to shake off the feelings of filth and embarrassment even after showering, even after throwing myself into a routine. And I wouldn’t tell anyone who didn’t need to know. Gwen, because I told her everything. My friend Ezra, because he’d been worried about where I was when I wasn’t answering texts because my phone wasn’t working. Lauren, who needed to know why I’d gone MIA on such an important work day and when I’d be back.

And although I didn’t break down over the next few days—not really, not as I should have; although Ezra came to stay with me because being alone terrified me, and didn’t mind sharing my bed or when I laid my head on his shoulder; although I’d wake up screaming and sweating every night since, I did my best to present myself as the person the world knew me to be.

But that’s just the very thing about it all:

I don’t know who I am anymore.

It isn’t like it was when I was nineteen and already carrying around so many secrets about myself that one more made no difference. This time, I am an egg that has been thrown with great vigor into a wall. And while the pieces of the shell are still here, still accounted for, what was once inside of me, what once made me who I am has been vacuumed out and has dripped away to somewhere I fear I may not ever be able to find it again. Nothing seems funny to me anymore; nothing makes me smile. Eating is an aberrant thought to me and showering is a task I have to force myself into. I want to stay in bed and hide beneath the covers when I am awake, but sleep as much as possible. I want not to be left alone for fear that someone else will find me and do to me what’s already been done, the unspeakable, unthinkable horror I can’t even conjure a memory of, but that haunts me still. I want to scream from my brain, but not have my skull quiver as it holds the sound inside of me. I want to not look at every man that passes by me with disgust as if he were the one who did this to me. I want not to question whether or not I brought this on myself by being a shameless, openly, sexually active person. I want the deafening silence of being alone to subdue. I want to not to need someone by my side at all times. I want not to wonder if I Beetlejuiced this by worrying so much about it as of late before it ever even happened. I want not to question why the men that I fall in love with want nothing to do with me, and yet there are men out there so sick and disgusting that they’ll go so far as to drug and rape me just to have sex with me—why I’m not good enough to fall in love with, to share a life with, but good enough to be raped by a stranger. I want not to feel like I can’t dress nice or wear makeup or wear something that rides a little higher or is cut a little lower just because some creep might take advantage of me. 

I want my life back. I want my heart back.

And though the time that has passed since I sat down to write this has been short—incredibly so by the standards of many—it’s the only thing that I can do to keep myself from going insane.

And it’s killing me. I feel it killing me. I feel it extinguishing my soul.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who I am.

What I do know is that I was raped, and now I’m walking around as the ghost of a person who existed before that cannot stop hearing the sound of cuckoo clocks beating against the inside of his head.

Addicted Sportswear Launches Spring Collection

Lust Addicted Fashion Underwear LGBTQ

Addicted Sportswear Launches The Spring Season of Love with its ‘Lust’ Collection

In celebration of the spring season of love, Addicted, the naughty little sister brand of ES Collection,  has unveiled its “Lust” underwear collection.    “This season’s underwear collection is highly sensual and sexual but with a sense of humor,” explains the collections’ founder, Ed Suner.  “It’s sassy, jovial, and ironic but also fresh, sporty and stylish.”  The “Lust” collection features tight-fitting briefs in fire-y flames, neon leopard and superhero prints, emblazoned with tongue-in-cheek sayings like “Horny,” “Love Me Hard,” “Ready to Milk” and “High Class Hooker.”
“‘Lust’ offers the quality, fit and comfort Addicted has become famous for,” continues designer Carmen Monforte.   “All gear is designed with fashionable gay men in mind.  They are intended for guys who feel good about themselves, are comfortable with their bodies and are daring enough to be overtly racy.”
As always, all garments in the collection are finely and meticulously crafted by Addicted’s superior artisan team.  “As a men’s fashion label, materials and craftsmanship are top priority,” Monforte confirms.  “More time is put into the sewing of each garment so that they are built to last, even through the roughest play.  They are tailored to fit every body type perfectly.”
LUST_-15 Addicted Sportswear Launches Spring Collection
“They’re also interchangeable,”  adds Nir Zilberman, the brand’s USA agent.  “They’re perfectly suited to be worn on the field and in the bed.  Who says sports briefs can’t be sexy too?”
The pictorial campaign, directed by the renowned photographer Leonardo Corredor, captures the steamy side of Addicted’s “Lust” collection.  The provocative images have  been a big hit on the brand’s social media.
Addicted is the sister line from Addicted, the popular men’s athletic wear company. Since  2009, the brand has been dedicated to the design, manufacturing and sale of men’s underwear, swimwear, and sportswear.  It was founded by Eduardo Suner, also the founder of ES Collection, and has distinguished itself by setting trends and pushing the envelope in stylish, sexy and very wearable men’s fashion.  
Addicted’s “Lust” collection is sold directly at,  as well as at select retail partners worldwide.

Like Thelma & Louise

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 6

(for “Stephen”)

platonic love

noun, often capitalized P

1: love conceived by Plato as ascending from passion for the individual to contemplation of the universal and ideal

2: a close relationship between two persons in which sexual desire is nonexistent or has been suppressed or sublimated 

Of all the stereotypes that exist and are for the most part unfounded and untrue about the culture of gay men, there is one that has stood the test of time because of its extreme accuracy. That is that amongst gay men, platonic love is nearly nonexistent. Maybe it has something to do with the hormones of a person who is biologically male, or maybe it’s just simply due to the fact that sex has never been more accessible than it is today. After all, people—whether gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, or otherwise—are complicated machines. To presumptuously agree that all gay men have had sex with most of their gay male friends would be to generalize, and therefore further perpetuate the stereotype. Still, it’s kind of true. Furthermore, Plato’s actual theory of Platonism delves much deeper into philosophy than just human emotion—extending into ideas, numerical values, and much more. With that in mind, it only makes sense that even one facet of his theory—that which regards love and lust—would be difficult to reason.

But it is that complication—and that of all great philosophers and their ideas—that makes life interesting. It’s the whys and the hows and—more often than not—the what-the-fucks. It’s these little idiosyncrasies that keep us, as humans, on our toes and allow us to experience emotion, whether that be love, hate, elation, and often just downright anxiety.

Still, as much as I hate to say it and to therefore presume a generalization, there’s little deniability regarding the fact that gay men don’t often have meaningful—or even unmeaningful—relationships that don’t, at some point, involve sex. I say ‘little,’ of course, because a gay man will often meet another gay man that they are in no way sexually attracted to and for whom they retain no romantic feelings. And every now and then, once in a blue moon—if the men in question have not written off one another due to the aforementioned fact—those two gay men will begin to converse and find that they do have ideas and ambitions and personality traits in common that will bring them together again. They may be forced to do this by work, or brought together by a mutual friend. But if that seemingly mythical rarity holds true, the two might go for coffee at Siphon or a $10 bottle of wine at Barnaby’s. And there, they might spark a kinship and see one another again, and then again after that. All the while, and as sparsely as the occasion may arise, those two gay men might become friends and maintain that Platonism throughout their friendship over a long period of time.

I have had this experience once or twice, but most significantly with my best friend, Stephen. I call Stephen my best friend, not entirely sure whether or not he realizes we kind of are best friends at this point. Although, even the story of our friendship rests just on the border of this theory as a whole, considering that when Stephen and I met, I was attracted to him. He was cute and smart and hardworking, a chairman for Pride Houston. For a while, Alice and I even exclusively referred to him as ‘Hot Stephen.’ My affinity for him, after meeting him all of two times, led me to join the nonprofit as a chairman, as well. Although, it was our time there together that quashed that affection for him. He never became less attractive or any dumber—quite the contrary, he actually only got better looking and his intelligence revealed itself more as we spent time together.

Yet somehow, my romantic interest in Stephen extinguished naturally (and quite quickly at that), and the two of us grew close as friends over the course of nearly two years. And after a while, I had settled into the resolve that Stephen had become my best friend—my best friend for whose boyfriend I also came to care dearly; my best friend I shared secrets with that I was often scared to admit to myself; my best friend with whom I discussed our sex lives and our families; my best friend who became a part of not just my personal life, but my work life, as well.

Stephen was my best friend—or at least, my best gay male friend—regardless of whether or not I was his. And just as quickly as I’d romanticized him after only meeting those fateful two times, any feelings of sexual ardor I ever had for him—no matter how short a time they may have existed—evaporated from me.

That is until the day that Stephen had to go and fuck that up for the both of us.

I was making the short trip down to Galveston to meet with some advertisers for the magazine and to have a Sunday Funday, as we gays love to do. With me was an entourage of friends, which included, but was not limited to, Ezra, Alice, my friend Derek and his partner (also named Derrick), and a few others. The day had not gone by without event, nor without sobriety after a fair share of drinks for all of us. What started out as a handful of quick meetings at the gay bar Rumors on the Seawall turned into several handfuls of alcohol, another meeting at Lafitte’s, margaritas at Salsas, more meetings and drinks back at Rumors, and one final meeting (and more drinks) at 23rd Street Station.

Yes, we’d hit all the gay bars, attended about eight meetings with drag show directors, bar owners, Pride celebration leadership, Galveston socialites, and many others like them. And due to the fact that I’d popped a few prescription pills that morning, had a handful of tequila shots, drank my weight in vodka, and paid for virtually none of it, I was drunk before we’d even made it to our second location.

My buzz had lightened some by the time we’d made our way to 23rd, but the last two meetings proved difficult for me to get through, as retention and communication were not two of my strong suits at that particular moment in time. Still, I flew through them just before 9 PM, and checked my phone to see when we’d need to start heading back to Houston.

Upon doing so, I discovered the inevitable text from Stephen, who had also gone out that night back in Houston. Originally planning to come with us for Sunday Funday with his boyfriend, Leo, Stephen had at the last minute decided he’d stay in Houston to do some work, as he was doing his best not to drink for a full month. The text, however, was a clear indicator to me that he’d slipped through the cracks of his four week plan and had been drinking. That’s sort of the beauty of having a platonic friend, you’re so undistracted by lust and desire that you pay more attention to their mannerisms and personality quirks.

Screenshot_20180123-004731-300x247 Like Thelma & Louise


And I knew that if Stephen was asking my location, it meant he either was or needed to be drinking.

No sooner than I’d hit the ‘SEND’ button on the text, Stephen was calling to drunkenly lament about a fight he’d had with one of his few other platonic, gay friends. It was a nasty debacle, one that I knew—even in my own drunkenness and without hyperbole—could be potentially damaging to their friendship.

“I just feel like I really need to be around my real friends right now, and around people who don’t treat me this way and that care about me and appreciate me and that I care about and appreciate.” Stephen was the king of run-on sentences when he was drunk. Meanwhile, I’d stepped up to a urinal to pee while he went on about the situation.

“All right. We’ll be there in 30 minutes,” I told him, zipping my scrotum by mistake into my jeans. “Ouch! Fuck!”

“No! No, don’t let me take you away from your day in Galveston. Stay there. I’ll be fine.”

“No, it’s okay. I just got out of my last meeting. We were about to leave anyway.”

That part was no lie. We’d been drinking since noon, and everyone had all but hit their walls. I, on the other hand, didn’t mind going to Stephen, due simply to my own social anxiety that was nearly symptomatic of being around so many people for such a long period of time. It would be a nice change of pace and a good way to decompress before going home—or so I thought.

Screenshot_20180123-004802-250x300 Like Thelma & Louise

I rounded the herds and we left the island. I explained to Ezra, Alice, and Jared (another friend who’d come along with us, and the magazine’s photographer) the situation and the urgency to return home. So, we made our way back to the city hastily, and I returned Jared and Ezra to their cars before Alice and I made our way to Rich’s.

Upon entering, I was faced with the reminder that Bunnies on the Bayou was having their annual Snow Bunnies event that night, which led to me having to pay a cover charge despite the fact that it was only just 9 o’clock on a Sunday. “Fuckers,” I mumbled under my breath as I handed over $10 for both Alice and I to the Bunny who also happened to be my former co-chair at Pride. I wasn’t his biggest fan.

We found Stephen on the patio. I approached him from behind and grabbed him by both sides of his waist, which resulted in him jumping off the ground and nearly knocking over another person’s drink.

“So, I see that your month without alcohol has come to a crashing halt,” I teased.

“Girl, you started this. You gave me Prosecco yesterday.” That much was true. But it was less than a full glass and it was lunchtime, after all.

“Thank you for coming,” he told me with eyes that were not only glassy from being drunk, but red and puffy from having, at the very least, fought back tears. Stephen ordered the two of us a drink, and Alice sat tiredly on a bench against the back wall while he went back into his spiel about the argument between he and his friend. I could see almost the entire thing playing out in my head. His friend, Mike, had probably been taken aback as a drunk, hurt Stephen launched into a diatribe about how Mike had been a shitty friend. Sad as it may be, the argument was almost the perfect centerpiece to any night out amongst the gays.

All I did was listen to Stephen. It didn’t feel like he really wanted my advice; and in being friends for the short time we had been, I’d learned when he was looking for advice and when he wasn’t. This was one of those opportunities I was meant to learn from in the art of listening and empathy—not two of my strong suits. Once he’d calmed down some, Stephen and I discussed Pride and our lives and things that let his mind wander away from the showdown with Mike. Truthfully, Stephen probably wasn’t much drunker than I was. In fact, I’d seen him far more drunk at many times during our friendship. Something about him, however, was different than anything I’d ever seen in Stephen before.

Certainly, I’d seen Stephen disappointed and angry and upset. But as I watched him talk and tried my best to keep up, I could sense something about him to which I hadn’t before bore witness.

He was wounded. There he was, after two weeks of not drinking (and that’s just wine; he hadn’t had liquor in nearly three months), alone in a busy club where he’d just taken an emblematic blow to the head and to the heart. The only friend he’d come there with had abandoned him for the very people they’d been fighting about in the first place, and he had no one else.

I was glad to be there for him. I was glad to be his friend when there weren’t any others within reach—or maybe even when there weren’t any others willing to extend their capacities to his emotional needs. Stephen was not a reactionary, nor was he terribly emotional. He was one of those grown-up, gay men who dealt with his issues by taking a reasonable, pragmatic approach to them. This Stephen—the one who had obviously cried a bit and had been left to feel the humiliation and exile of feeling as though no one wants you around—was new to me. And though I wasn’t glad to see him melancholy, I did accept and appreciate the fact that I was the friend he’d called to his side.

Soon enough, Leo arrived, and Alice and I prepared to leave the couple at Rich’s to enjoy themselves. As we parted ways, Stephen leaned in to hug me, planting a soft and sisterly kiss on the cheek, then turned to Alice, who—devoid of all social skills—awkwardly offered her hand to him for a nice, sturdy shake. I then hugged Leo, after which Stephen intercepted yet another hug from me.

Only this time, as I pulled away at the close, Stephen clasped his hands around my what-should-be biceps, and firmly gripped me in a momentary pause. The world seemed to slow down then, and I found a genuine confusion invading my mind as to what he was doing. Although, before I could generate any logic or reason, Stephen leaned forward and kissed me right on the mouth, right in front of God, Alice, his boyfriend, and half the Houston gay community standing around.

And for a moment, there was a flutter inside my chest. It was the kind that comes when those butterflies inside of you take flight, and their wings tickle your insides as they bounce from wall-to-wall looking for a way out. It was exactly as I’d have imagined it to be back when I was interested in Stephen. Scruffy from his beard. Soft from his lips. And somehow tranquil, in spite of the anxiety that was building at a lightning-quick speed inside of me. I mean, this was Stephen, my now-best friend, but someone we’d also formerly and affectionately referred to as Hot Stephen when Alice and I first met him. But there was another part of me that was much louder and much less unprecedented. It was a voice in my head and my heart that screamed, “No! We’re sisters! Sisters don’t do this! Sis, stop! Sis! Sissy!”

Then, although it seemed to last a lifetime, it was over. Stephen relinquished me and without another word, Alice and I silently trudged back through Rich’s toward the door, my freshly-kissed mouth agape the entire time. Both Alice and I decided against speaking of it on the ride home, but we both knew what had just happened.

Anthony Ramirez had been kissed on the mouth by Hot Stephen. If you’d told him this about two years prior, he would have called you a liar, but also jumped for joy. Now? Not so much. 

But Anthony Ramirez—me, that is—wasn’t jumping for joy. Instead, I just stood around confused as to why that had happened. Sure, I could chalk it up to the fact that Stephen was very, very drunk. But it didn’t account for all the times I’d seen him much drunker and how he’d not ever put his lips on me then. I could also argue that we’d just shared an intimate moment where Stephen was feeling a great deal of pain, and I was the only person who’d arrived to help—making it not a kiss of romance, but one of gratitude and kinship. It was the type of kiss Thelma and Louise shared before they took their fateful dive off the cliff at the end of the film. And truthfully, wasn’t that what we were? Thelma and Louise? Ride-or-dies? Laverne and Shirley? Tia and Tamera? 

And maybe that’s all that it was. After all, the American culture is one of the very few that equates all lip-to-lip kissing to a signifier of romance. Around the world, a kiss is nothing more than a symbol of many kinds of affection. Certainly it was nothing more than a one-off thing executed only after the culmination of many drinks and many more feelings of sorrow and closeness.

Still, it begged the question in my mind for days after: was that all it was?

I mean, while very different people, there were many medians in which Stephen and I met due to similar interests, likes, dislikes, and opinions. We were both educated gay men who were informed and cultured and enjoyed the arts and talking about sex and boys and drinking wine at virtually no cost to either of us. Was it possible that if Stephen and I had met at another time in our lives—had he not been involved and had I been a couple of years older—that the Platonism Plato so convolutedly posited may not have existed?

To be clear, I knew then and know now that Stephen isn’t attracted to me. But at the height of emotions, whether it be sadness or gratitude or lust or fear or joy, our perceptions as humans tend to change. And, as discussed before, humans are not simple creatures. We’re ruled by those emotions—even the most unemotional of us, like Stephen. Could it be that under different circumstances, though circumstances that would have still started our relationship as just friends, our friendship might have forged another path on the road?

Possibly, though not probably. Our entire lives would have required revision, from time of birth to college applications to the cars we drove to how much we drank on any particular Sunday night.

One thing is for certain, though Stephen and I haven’t discussed this since it occurred, as he probably doesn’t remember doing it:

I got closer to my friend that night. Nothing came of that silly kiss, as I knew it wouldn’t because neither of us wanted anything more from one another than a friend who could be at Rich’s when the other heartbroken and drunk by 9 PM to tell you they love you and that you’re worth more. And that’s the beauty of what Stephen and I continue to have.

Even in the moments of gentle brushes of hands against thighs, or of fingers locking together in a moment of intensity, or even those times rarer still than platonic love between gay men when you kiss on the mouth, true friendship supersedes and remains palpable and pure and true. Even when the Platonism is called into question and Plato momentarily begins to turn over in his grave, the reality sets back in and you remember exactly what your place is in that person’s life, and theirs in yours … even if you find yourself questioning it from time-to-time.

But that’s the beauty of real platonic loves. They’re insightful, and introspective, and rare like fossils. And just like fossils, just like Thelma and Louise, just like Plato, those loves teach us things we absolutely have to learn.

And if we’re lucky enough to have even one of those sorts of relationships in our entire lives, that’s magic.

Screenshot_20180123-004843-231x300 Like Thelma & Louise