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In (my) Memory of Nashom

In the words of The Ones, “Just like perfection. Like no other, flawless. Absolutely flawless.”

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I was very much an indie rock kid in college, definitely a child of Myspace who loved white belts and any band that started with “The” and ended with a random noun. Dance music never has a season though and one of my favorite songs before I moved to New York was “Flawless” by The Ones. It was already about five years old before I stumbled across it, but I put it on so many mix CDs — Music to Drive to, Light Chair Twerk, Sunday Cleaning — because the bassline was unmatched.

Fast forward some years, and I was at the Cock (the old location they turned into a pet store or some apartments) and I was butt naked talking to the DJ about random stuff. See, back in the DAY day, if I was out with the Twinklets (this group of skinny fashion gays who went to FIT) and we got too drunk on $2.50 well drinks at Boiler Room and a couple of demonic Long Island iced teas at Urge, we would roll into The Cock feeling our oats and I would strip down to nothing, hide my gear behind a speaker, and give my keys-wallet-phone-underwear to Justin so he could hold on to them in case someone stole my clothes (no one ever did!).

On one particular evening, I was lit but not super lit, and I was carrying on a conversation about music with the DJ, trading “obscure” songs back and forth. I brought up “Flawless” and I don’t remember the conversation word for word, but I — a country bumpkin from nowhere SC — thought no one would remember this minor dance hit from ten years ago.

DJ: Oh, I know that song.
Me: Really? No one ever knows that song. How do you know it?
DJ: It’s my song.
Me: What?
DJ: It’s my song.

And that’s how I met Nashom Wooden, trying to expose him to a song he already knew because he was 1/3rd of the group who made it, while I was taking a break from exposing myself to everyone in this dark bar on 2nd Avenue.

Fast forward a couple more years to a random Wednesday night at The Cock (still the old location) and it was Diva Night. I don’t remember what the exact name of the night was, but there were t-shirts for sale that had different divas on them and all of the drag queens would perform songs by the same artist. That night I had my hair down and slightly teased a la Janet from the Control era and the bartender liked it so much he gave me one of the Janet t-shirts that matched my hair. Jay Roth was gogo dancing in what basically amounted to string and Justin was being hit on by a guy who was twice our age but probably twenty times our net worth, so we let him buy us a few drinks.

The night was Cher and it was Mona Foot’s turn. I didn’t really know Cher like that so I’d never actually heard “Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves” before…and I wasn’t sure Mona had either! She only mimed one part: gyppsiiiiesss tramps and thieeeves. That’s it. She covered her face with her hands, she took sips of people’s drinks, and she hid behind columns and stuck a leg out to do choreography, but she did NOT lip sync that song. And we LIVED! OMG we talked about that performance for years. It became one of the top ten references Justin and I would toss out when we randomly wanted to ((dramatic voice)) relive the youth of our early days in the big city ((/end dramatic voice)).

Yesterday Justin sent me this text:

I looked it up just to confirm and the top search result was from Billboard. It’s the first COVID-19 passing of someone I’ve ever been acquainted with. Not that I really knew Mona Foot or Nashom. That Cher lip sync was the only time I’d ever seen her perform, and I’d only had maybe 20 conversations with Nashom over the past decade (almost all of them about music — debating Kelly Rowland remixes is my favorite memory with any DJ), but three of my favorite musical memories and three of my favorite memories living in NYC were thanks to Nashom: the artist, the drag queen, and the DJ.

In the words of The Ones, “Just like perfection. Like no other, flawless. Absolutely flawless.”

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LGBT

Watch: Kids Ask About Gender

“Do you like being called a boy or a girl?”

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Courtney Act is a gift to this world. She’s so good at talking to anyone, and everyone looking to be a queer ambassador should be following her lead. She’s not trying to be Oprah and pull out your deepest trauma. She’s not trying to be Dr. Phil to coach you into realizations with psychobabble. She never comes from a place of preaching, just existing and being authentic.

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Athletes

Carl Nassib is the NFL’s first active gay player.

Another pride month win for representation!

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Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out of the closet earlier today and his statement almost brought me to tears.

Nothing he said was particularly emotional, but it just took me back to junior high school, having rocks thrown at me, getting into fights on the bus, hearing faggot every day, and seeing no way past the torture of being bullied by jocks who thought it was fun to beat up on the gay kid.

It was just cool to beat up on the gay kid. Whether you were actually homophobic or not didn’t matter — you bullied the gay kid because other guys bullied the gay kid and that’s just how it was. It’s not as cool as it once was. Homophobia still exists, but outright support also exists in a way I didn’t experience, and sometimes that counterbalance is all you need for a homophobe to seethe quietly since he doesn’t have enough peers to feed into the bullying.

I’m trying to picture how I would have felt in junior high if an NFL player came out and his commissioner, coach, and teammates were all behind him. I probably would’ve been bullied anyway, to some extent at least, but I definitely would’ve believed it actually does get better, because I didn’t at the time. Saying “it gets better” doesn’t mean anything to a kid who wants to die because he’s the only gay person he knows, he dreads facing his peers because he doesn’t know if someone will light his homework on fire or hit him with a flagpole, and the only gay people on TV are fictional comic relief. Seeing a gay man in the center of a hypermasculine, heterosexual, aggressive environment means much more. It means not everyone is out to get you and you won’t be tortured forever, because if he can find support in the NFL, you can find support somewhere too.

 

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LGBT

Casey Frey has a boyfriend.

Watch his coming out video on Theo Von’s podcast. The kids are so blessed!

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I know who Casey Frey is, because I’m online all the time, but I don’t really know who Casey Frey is. I just have a passing recognition of him and I can pick him out of a lineup because every once in awhile, one of his “dancing” videos goes viral.

Back in the days of Vine, Casey amassed a huge following from his awkward dance clips that were oddly charming in that Gen Z way of being earnest and silly at the same time. Now he’s a bonafide Instagram comedian, but I don’t follow him, because I’m pretty dry and subdued, and I don’t think very many people are funny enough to watch over and over (or at all!).

The kids who do follow him had that young man trending for a couple of days in a row because he has a boyfriend now.

I had never put much thought into who Casey Frey sleeps with. I just assumed he was straight because, if he was queer, he would’ve popped up on my social media feeds more often from being shared by the gays in my social networks. The few times I saw his sexuality discussed, it was usually a gay man either alluding to Casey’s queerness or making a light-hearted joke about it and they would immediately be corrected by his fans. So, Casey coming out with a boyfriend made a  big ripple on social media.

I really don’t care. I don’t even know anything about him past what I just Googled.

What I do care about is his coming out video with Theo Von, who some of you Gen X and Millennials may remember from Road Rules.

Not gonna even front: I had a huge crush on Theo growing up. He was a Southern good ol’ boy (my weakness at the time) who was genuinely nice, wasn’t a bigot, and read books. And he had nice arms. I’ve lo-key followed his career as a comedian and I still think he’s genuinely charming but don’t tell anybody I said that because we do not praise straight white men in this household!

Casey went on Theo’s podcast and I want y’all to watch how casually he comes out as bisexual and how everyone reacts to it.

No one cares. Look at that! No one cares!

When I saw that clip yesterday, I surprised myself by how emotional I got. I just remember growing up in the South with Theo’s accent all around me calling me a faggot on a regular basis. Straight guys tortured me for years. I saw a couple of gays on the Real World, Queer as Folk, and Will & Grace, but that was about it for my exposure to queerness in the big bad world. No part of my brain would’ve thought that twenty years later, a male comedian presumed to be straight would be on another straight male comedian’s radio show and casually say he has a boyfriend.

I’m so happy the little gay boys in conservative pockets of the country facing taunts and bullying have clips like this. It doesn’t necessarily affect what’s happening to you in that moment day to day, but it’s gotta be so nice to see that there is a wider world where everyone doesn’t hate you.

As Theo says in the clip, “That’s awesome.”

 

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