New York City, 2012.
Webster Hall was booming with life. There was a chill in the autumn air, much different than the chill from the midwestern country, where I’d traveled from to attend NYU. It was a sharper cold, more biting.
I attended a small concert with a few friends to see a relatively new musician perform. Someone I’d heard of before, but only in the peripheral. He gave a brilliant, high energy show that would earn him the success he deserved in the years that would follow.
As an import to the city I didn’t know that many people. I was still finding my way and making new friends, adjusting to the fast pace of New York. It seemed to me that everyone else had settled into a nice groove, etching themselves out a small space in a very crowded terrain. One of these friends knew someone from security who allowed us to go say hello to the performer and get his autograph.
He was still damp with sweat, loose hair matted to his forehead and he introduced himself and shook my hand. I wasn’t starstuck, but more enchanted by the energy he exuded. The frenzy around him; for him. It seemed to buzz around me. The closest parallel I can make is recalling the first time I set foot in Times Square. It was bright, loud and alien to a girl from Ohio. A spectacle.
As we prepared to say our goodbye’s he asked if anyone was getting breakfast. He looked me in the eye and said “Wanna come?” and I agreed.
We spent four hours talking about life, careers, dream interpretations, spirituality, family- and that’s when I let it casually slip. “Well, I’m not close to my family, being trans has been something they’ve had difficulty with.” And he leaned in and said “I’m Gay, I get it.” From there we talked about the social and career implications of being out… and visible. His risk was much greater than mine, as he was just setting out to expand his audience. I was just a hopeful screenwriter trying to learn to walk fast enough down a sidewalk so I didn’t piss off the natives. New Yorker’s move at the speed of light.
Before parting ways we exchanged numbers and met up again the next evening. We walked and talked, then took a boat out onto the Hudson River and stayed out until the sun…