Guess Who’s Coming to Ohio?

My lady love and I are, that’s who!  One of my friends, Kylee, got hitched a while back and is having her reception in the good ole Toledo, Ohio.  It’s the first time I’ve been back home in a long while-since at least March and it is the first time I’m brining Mirs along with me.

We’ve been dating for 28 months and we’ve only met a few of each other’s family members.  Actually, now that I write this down it has occurred to me that she’s met more of my family than I’ve met of hers.  Still, meeting the parents is definitely a big one.  It means that we’re serious.  Things are serious.  Our relationship is serious.

When we first started dating her parents came into town and she casually asked if I wanted to meet them out.  We’d only been seeing each other for a few weeks, perhaps a month or so, and it seemed way too soon to meet her folks.  I politely declined the invitation and waited impatiently for the long weekend to be over so that I could come to her house or invite her over for that really hot first-few-months-of-a-relationship-crazy-sex phase.  Since neither of our parents have come to NYC the chance to meet again hasn’t come up.  When the invitation for Kylee’s reception came in the mail I asked Mirs if she wanted to come up and the way her face lit up is still imprinted on my mind.  She was genuinely excited about the prospect of coming home.

Now, with only a few days to go, the nerves are kicking in a bit.  After eating an amazing dinner of veggie enchiladas that she prepared and a bottle of wine we started to unwind in bed.  She asked me what she needed to know about my mother, my father, what to expect.  I answered her questions willingly but was sort of puzzled at her sudden concern.  I told her that there were thing she could expect from both of them, but mainly that they were warm and welcoming people.  We talked about what we’d bring them, taking them to dinner and sleeping arrangements (my parents are painfully old fashioned.  No bunking unless you’re married).  When we snuggled under the blankets and started to watch ProRun it dawned on me that this was a big deal for her.  I’m going home and bringing her along but she’s getting a crash course into our family with all of its ups and downs.  Completely out of her comfort zone, she will be the lone white girl in a black household and she’s nervous, rightfully so. 

Her mother extended an invitation to come home for Christmas which I politely declined.  I’m not sure how I’m going to tell my own parents I won’t be home for Christmas and it will have nothing to do with my Judaism.  There’s no way they’d hear of my flying down south to spend an important holiday like Christmas with another family instead.  But when my time comes to visit her home I’m sure I will be an even larger bundle of nerves.  She’s a southerner coming to Yankee land but it’s no comparison for this Black girl going below the Mason Dixon into a white Republican household.  Thank G-d I’ve got the Jew card in my pocket to play.


Thank Yous, Fate, and Boobies

Hey Bloggers,

I was talking to my good friend, Kylee, about her company, LoveAloud. Her webmaster, Jill, has informed her that a lot of the hits to her website are from the East Coast! So I want to say thanks to you readers out there who have visited her website and supported this straight girl who’s working towards equal rights for the LGBT Community. Thanks, Kylee!

If you haven’t purchased a shirt yet, get your ass over there and buy one! They’re really comfy, they wash well, and it’s for a good cause!

For some reason I thought that I was a youngster again this weekend. Over mimosas and bloody marys at brunch this morning, I realized that I’ve had a drink every single day of the weekend. The good thing is that I don’t have to work tomorrow, the bad thing is that I’ve had a drink every day of this weekend.

Friday my lovely lady and I attended a Happy Hour held by one of my co-workers at Beauty Bar on 14th Street. I purchased 4 Martinis and a beer for my friends and only spent $33. And the martinis were A-Mazing. So amazing that I drank two, and a grape vodka drink the cute bartender suggested…and a beer. As the gay boys started showing up and our quaint, quiet party started turning into a more rowdy affair Mirs and I bid our adieus and made our way to the Lodge Restaurant in Williamsburg for some alcohol-absorbing food-Cheeseburgers and cupcakes.

Saturday we spent the entire day in the East Village doing some shopping. By shopping I mean looking at clothes that I cannot buy because I’m budgeting but like to put them against my body, enjoy the feeling of silks and cashmere against my skin and the way my feet looked in those amazing Marni Wedge heels that I saw at that Tokio Consignment shop that were $150 that I kinda, might, probably go back and get. They were effing ridiculous. Brown soft leather, patent leather green wedge. Fucking amazing. I’m trying to remember that my big “Happy Promotion to Me” present is the leather bag from Italy that I keep looking at daily.

I’m working really hard on making the most out of my crazy ridiculous wardrobe, realizing that my lovely lady has a lot of skirts and dresses to chose from as well, and reminding myself that when it’s time for us to move in together, it would be amazing to have a few month’s rent in the bank so we can get some great furniture.

In moving in together news, Mirs and I have taken to browsing apartments on Craigslist together before getting out of bed. I’ll admit that I’ve been browsing apartments on Craigslist for months. There’s no shame in my game. Everyone knows I want to live with my girlfriend. I’m practically living with her now. In the last two weeks I’ve spent two nights at my own apartment, in my own bed.

Instead, when I say I’m going “home” I mean “I’m going to Miriam’s” Everyone keeps telling me that we should just merge to her place until her lease expires since we spend every night at her place anyway. The moment the words leave her lips, I’d probably do it. I say probably because Mir’s Place is a true studio. She has a divide between her kitchen and her bedroom that’s a cloth on a tension rod. Like me, she doesn’t have an actual closet, she has a tension rod in the recession of her wall that barely holds her clothes. She has three shelves over her bed. One is stuffed full of books, and the other two are squeezed to the limit with her clothes. Unlike me, my girlfriend doesn’t have an obsession with shoes, purses, or clothes. That said, she does own a lot of those things. There is no way that we could both live here. We’ve talked about it. We could put her bed on risers and use that space for storage. She has a record player and there’s a bag of donation items under it, I could use that space for storage. We could put up more shelves. I could put some clothes in storage or, GASP, purge a bit. We’d be miserable. Even if it was just for a few months, all of my shit in her small place would drive my good-natured girlfriend up the wall.
So no. Not yet, at least.

After shopping we decided to see what all the fuss about Slumdog was and see it at the Angelika. We got there about an hour early and were sitting in the cafe deciding where we should go for a snack. I was listening/not listening to Mirs and her BFF, Heather, talking about what they talk about and glanced over and saw my friend Elissa. I about shit myself. She’s older-looking and her hair was shorter but she was basically the same red-head that I remember from grade school and high school-‘cept gayer.

I called her name and she looked blankly at me. I smiled at her and walked over to her and as I got closer the recognition came to her. She took me in one of the best hugs ever and I felt excited inside. I haven’t mentioned her here before because she seemed like a lost cause but, seeing this girl was one of my favorite New York moments to date.

Elissa and I went to grade school together. We played on the basketball team together. She was the guard and I was the forward. We played together a lot and hardly ever sat on the bench. Partially because my dad was the coach, mostly because Elissa was a good player. We sort of became less-close during high school. She was a soccer player and I was a cheerleader and runner but she was still my friend. The last time I saw her was in 1998 at the University of Dayton. She was visiting us from St. Louis University (or the University of St. Louis-I have no clue which) We had a good weekend and I never saw her again. (this isn’t a crush story, wait for it)

So I was in Ohio visiting from NYC and I heard that she lived in New York and that she was gay. This was right about the same time that I was struggling with my own gayness. I desperately wanted to connect with her to work out my feelings. We’re from the same town, went to the same schools- I needed her.

I randomly ran into her father at Starbucks and he gave me her number but it was old and I never got in touch with her. When I finally came out, I would look for her at lesbian bars just in case-I mean, New York is a big city and the lesbian community is big and varied but it’s not that big, I thought. I was wrong. It’s bigger than big-It’s HUGE.

So, seeing her sitting in the Angelika theater at the same day waiting for the same movie that I was was amazing. Even more amazing because we were supposed to be in Park Slope at a birthday party. Even more so because we’d been to two other theaters in the East Village. If we’d gone to Park Slope I wouldn’t have seen her. If we saw Milk instead of Slumdog, I wouldn’t have seen her.

We hugged, a giant hug, a real hug and immediately started talking at the same time. I found out that she and her girlfriend are getting married on March 21st of this year, she’s an occupational therapist, and that they’re moving to Brooklyn Heights. (STRANGE! Mirs and I have been looking at a few places in the Heights) Totally twilight zone, right? I introduced her to Mirs and Heather and was introduced to her BFF, Laura. We parted ways for me to get a sandwich and when we came back and got settled into our seats in the theater her friend Laura informed us that they were throwing a surprise Bachelorette Party for the both of them and invited us. (Right!?)

The bachelorette party was at the Slipper Room on the LES; a burlesque show. When we got there, Laura found us and let us know that the lesbians had taken over the front row of the place. Yup, right in front, in the chairs, next to the stage-TONS OF LESBIANS. Well, not tons, but enough for the MS to make a snarky comment about “real” lesbians in the front.

The crowd was intense and Mirs and I decided it best to visit the loos before getting stuck in the front of the small bar. While waiting for Mirs to come back up, Elissa walked in and was again shocked to see me. I told her that Laura invited us and she was excuted. She helped us maneuver through the dense crowd right up front. I met more lesbians than I can remember and watched more amazing performances than I can remember. Yes, there was vodka involved, again.

Overall, I walked away with my friend’s phone number and hope that I can make some LESBIAN FRIENDS all of my own 🙂 Granted they’ll be friends I’ve made through another friend, they’ll be friends that have nothing to do with Mirs. It sounds mean reading that back, but we’ve had a lot of discussions on my desire to have some good lesbian friends, or even acquaintances of my own. We got invited to the after party-but like the old ladies we are, we were already snuggled in bed.

This afternoon, over an amazing Mexican brunch at Elote in Brooklyn, and a Mimosa, Mirs and I reviewed our weekend. I’m excited we got out of the house, we hung out with new friends, we’re on the same page with our co-habitation, and I saw some boobies.

Wait…So You’re Gay!?

It’s the question that I’ve been getting on Facebook for the last week or so. The beauty of sites like MySpace and Facebook is that you can reconnect with people from your past. Old school mates, old friends from grade school, high school, and college all sort of come out of the wood work, so to speak, on these sites. I’ve found so many people from my past on these sites.   It’s good to see them.  No, it’s great to see them. One friend, Leslie, is one of my absolute favorite people off all time. He’s amazing. I’ve missed him dearly. But when you decide that you’re ready to leave a place like Toledo, Ohio you sometimes leave the people behind as well.

So much of my life has changed. I’ve said it before in previous blogs, and I’ve heard it echoed in blogs that I follow and through conversations with other people who’ve move away from home to start their lives in big cities. I’ve changed in many ways, many ways that people back home just don’t understand.

My hair, for instance. I stopped relaxing it, mainly because I got my hair cut, relaxed and styled at a salon on 5th Avenue that I was referred to by a co-worker at J. Crew in SoHo. I loved my new look, it was amazing. It was bouncy, flowing, and the cut was phenomenal. Not $300 phenomenal, though. I decided that instead of spending money like that relaxing my hair straight, or taking the Dominican route so many black people in NYC take, or doing it myself that I would just let my hair grow out of my head in it’s natural state.  Some people call it Nappy, I think those people don’t have natural hair pride. I call it curly…very, very curly. It was a long process, it took a lot of patience and three years.   After letting Mirs cut my hair a few months back, I’m wrestling with the idea of taking it short, very short.  I love my hair; it’s texture, it’s style, the ability of it to do whatever it wants to do-no matter how much I try to coax it.  It’s not revolutionary or even neo-Afro, it’s just my hair.  
On any given day I can see a dozen black women with natural hair in NYC, it’s just how we do, I suppose.  When I went back home for the first time with my natural hair I felt like I was on show.  Everyone was ooing and ahhing, and I wanted to smack the third person who asked to touch it.  Really?  Yeah, really, in Toledo, Ohio.  It was shocking to me how many black people asked me what I put in my hair to make it curl; what product, what chemical.  I told them, quite matter-of-factly, that it’s how our hair grows.  I told one woman, what do you put in yours to make yours look like that.  Another woman had the nerve to ask me why I would chose to not relax my hair-my response was, why not?  
My hair was just the beginning.  Since my move to the Big Apple, I’ve really let my hair down and allowed my true self to shine.  My natural haired, tofu eating, big, gay self.  The gay thing is still taking the Toledoans a bit more time.  I had someone ask me rapid fire questions- did I have a boyfriend?  A husband?  Was I married?  Kids?  Is that really what life has come to?  Boyfriends, husbands, and kids?  I responded that I didn’t have a boyfriend, but a girlfriend.  That I wasn’t married, because I couldn’t, and that I didn’t have children, yet.  Although my girlfriend and I do want them in the future.  Pretty direct, right?  She responded with, “So, wait, you’re gay?”
I felt that my description of my life was pretty clearly gay-but further clarification was needed.  Yup, I’m gay, I said.  No response.  I’m not sure what it is, exactly, that’s so hard for those folks from Ohio to understand.  Some people are gay.  Take me, for instance, gay.  When my sister finally heard me tell her that I was gay, she asked if I was super gay.  I asked her what she meant, and she said, “You’re, like, totally gay, aren’t you?   Like, you do gay things with gay people.  I bet you already have a group of gay friends and are in gay activist groups and shit, aren’t you, Erika.”
I confirmed her thoughts and she said she expected nothing less, that I do things “all out.”  My cousin who lives in Maryland thought it was a phase.  She told me I went through a white-black girl phase and this was my gay phase.  She is … interesting.  It was an interesting assessment from a woman who barely knows me.  She is correct, in many ways, I’ve always been told that the way that I speak and the way I was brought up wasn’t “black” enough.  My dad told me that a lot growing up.  “Erika, you need to be more black”  Last time I was home he offered me $500 to relax my hair.
I’m black and gay and I don’t relax my hair.  I’m 29 and came out only a year ago.  I spent the majority of my adult life pretending to be, rather molding myself into something that the world wanted me to be.  I didn’t fit into that mold.  That mold is in Toledo, Ohio.  I often wonder what would become of me if I would’ve stayed there.  Would I have gotten married to a man and lived my life as a lie?  It’s hard to say.  I can’t imagine living my life in any other way than I’m living it right now, because for the first time, in my entire life, I feel like I’m living my life on my own terms.  It feels amazing.  I sometimes wish that I could step back and look in on the life that I lead.  I’m always blown away by so many aspects; I live in Manhattan, I have an amazing woman who I’m planning to spend the rest of my life with.  I’m happy, happier than I could have imagined, so much so that I want to pinch myself to make sure it’s all real.  And it is.

Gay, All the Way

I was chatting with my friend Kylee last night. We talked about her new company, lovealoud, but mostly about being gay in Ohio. More specifically Toledo, Ohio. I left Toledo almost five years ago, spent a year dating a man, a year getting over a man, a year telling myself that I was label-less, a half year calling myself bi, and then finally 6 months ago going gay-all the way.

I’ve never been happier. Although, being out sooner would’ve been easier, in some aspects, I can’t imagine coming out all the way as a lesbian if I continued living in Toledo. The gay community in Toledo is very small to non-existent. I think there are possibly two gay bars? My friend Kylee and I have a mutual friend who’s still living in Toledo. He’s a gay guy from a giant, well-off family. His parents are Christian Republicans and while he’s told him that he was gay, they’ve either dismissed it or encouraged him to go to church a bit more to talk it out with God. As a result it feels, to me, that he’s in a sort of self-loathing place with his gayness.

For instance, I joked that for Pride my friend Mark and I were going to get T-shirts made that said “Heterophobic” to wear at the parade. Clearly, it’s funny, is it not? He didn’t think so. His response was, “How would you feel if someone was walking down the street with a shirt that said “homophobic”?” My thought was-it’s Gay Pride. It’s the ONE day where you feel a bit more comfortable in your skin, perhaps. A day where you can walk around and just be yourself-your entire gay self. True, I’d be pissed and annoyed to see a person walking around in a shirt that said Homophobic. People where those shirts all day, every day, 365 days of the year. Literally, no, but the entire world, as a whole-is very homophobic. That’s a fact. Clearly, I wouldn’t walk down my West Harlem neighborhood with the shirt on, and wouldn’t wear it visibly in the subway. I’m not looking for any trouble. But to take it off for laughs on the parade route-hell yeah!

Another instance I told him that Miriam and I were having a gay day. Before we started dating, Miriam and her friends would have days where they’d all go out and add the word gay to the day of the week. For instance, Metropolitan on Wednesgay. I told him, “we’re having a gay day.” And he was all, “what’s a gay day?” I responded, “every day is essentially straight day and on gay days we hang out with our other gay friends, go to a gay venue, and enjoy being gay with one another.”

I have a lot of straight friends, and I’m not about segregation at all but, sometimes you need to hang out with other gays. You need to be able to speak about things and issues that are meaningful to you in your life. People can talk all they want about the ridiculousness of equal rights and the necessity of gay marriage as a straight person, but do they really get it like we do? The ability to ask, “How do you wield a strap-on without throwing out your back?” comfortably without gasps or looks of shock.

I first thought that my dear best friend was a self-loathing homo and then I realized, he’s a homo living in Toledo, Ohio, that’s a very hard thing. On Sunday I was at Miriam’s in her bed, talking to my mom. Miriam started making the bed, with me still in it and my mother, ever the bed maker scolded, “Get out of bed so she can make it!” Later that day I was talking to her about my frustrations about my retail job preventing me from my writing passion. I told her I was looking into writing for some gay magazines or websites and she was all, “I don’t think you’re really gay, Erika”

It takes time, I know. My family is still licking the wounds from the first out gay relative and most are still passing off as a fad. Sorry-no luck, Big Homo Erika Davis, That’s me. Point is, that’s what Toledo does, or any other city that’s not Portland, San Francisco, Columbus, Chicago, etc. So what to do? Live you life as a lie, miserable or be the gay guy in the small town. I’m trying to lure my dear sweet friend back to the Big Apple for another grand ole time. His first experience was a bit dramatic. It’s seriously personal but involves The Cock, that’s all that needs to be said.

Being out is a big step. It took me 28 years. I get it, and sometimes your community isn’t the safest place to be gay all the way. Yet, not being your true self, not loving who you are has its consequences, mostly unhappiness, depression, and self-loathing.

You know how stupid people are always saying that you should ship group X to some island so they can all be together? Where is gay island? and where can I buy tickets to send my friend there?