This past weekend was the first Daytime Realness of the season at El Rio. Paul and I lyfted over, planning to arrive 40 minutes or so after opening, figuring we’d beat the line that inevitably forms as the day goes on. We were greeted by easily 150 people in the queue already, and we joined Tyler and Colin midway through. Once inside we were greeted by essentially every masc-of-center queer in the city, crammed shoulder to shoulder from front to back, filling the space well past capacity.
By the time we’d been there for an hour or so, I truly felt like I had run into or caught glimpses of every person I’d hooked up with, chatted with, had cruised or been cruised by in the city since moving out here in 2016. It felt like a fitting bookend to my time here, like an insipid allegory: people who I’d engaged in the briefest of dark-corner fantasies, twilight encounters, night-time rendezvous, all dragged out into the harsh midday sun at 2pm on a Sunday. Look at them! Some were people I’d hoped to meet up with again — that rarest of birds, the NSA serial hook-up — some I’d hope to become friends with, here they all were, crammed on the patio next to the realization that none of that would ever come to pass. Time is up, time to go.
I’m not trying to read too much into it, but it’s definitely informing how I want to approach trysts in Los Angeles. John laughed when I told him that, but I was being serious. More intent, less chaff… a more careful curation.
Last week Carson, a friend from Utah, was chatting me up on Grindr. He was 32 miles away in San Jose for a work thing, and wanted my advice on the best cruising spots in the city. We’d served our church missions together 15 years ago — both of us desperately horny, closeted fags, (literally and metaphorically on an island) but neither of us realizing there was a kindred spirit in the other (an archipelago!) nor brave enough to do anything had we recognized one another. After some some recommendation from my go-tos, a pause, and then “why didn’t we ever have sex?” He means when I was in town last, not on our missions, but I still don’t have a ready answer. Who knows? The attraction was there, as was the hotel room, the willingness ; nevertheless the timing hadn’t ever worked out in that precisely right, exactly correct, literally perfect way required for two friends with the metric tons of religio-societal traumas we share, separately, to relax into a sexual encounter without tainting it with the anxiety of the aftermath. And here I was, on the exact opposite side of things at El Rio: “why didn’t we become friends?” I mentally telegraph to all of them. With the same answer, and for probably the same reasons: Who knows?
Lately I’ve been wanting to draw my hookups, portraits. Not in some sort of black book way, not a score sheet — but maybe just as a… memorial? A way to say: I knew this person, however briefly, and I think I saw them, too. Boys, men, theybies, all. We were the same, we shared something, and it both was and was not enough.