Reminiscing on a Wild, Wonderful Year
This year was euphoric, painful, affirming, and uplifting. And I loved it.
It can be a daunting task, looking back on an entire year of your life. It’s funny, because there are some moments that seem like they just happened yesterday and some moments that seem like they happened a decade ago, to an entirely different you than you are today. But that’s what makes it so interesting to take stock of an entire year of our lives: it forces us to reflect on the highs and lows that steered us through another exhausting, exhilarating spin around the sun.
For me, this year was defined by embracing my sexuality and leaning into my life. Since this is a gay blog and you all come here to read about gay things, I am going to focus on the aspects of my year that related to being an LGBTQ person in the tumultuous social and political climate we live in today - and how my identity as a gay man taught me more than I ever thought possible.
My year started with falling in love, much too quickly and much too recklessly, with a man who stole my heart but didn’t want to keep it. Despite spending most of this year analyzing the January I spent with this person, I didn’t feel comfortable recognizing that it was love until just a few weeks ago. I was embarrassed to admit to myself that I fell in love with him, since we only went on four dates and only knew each other for a month.
But nothing else can describe the way he swept me off my feet and made me feel so many things I’d never felt before. It was a month full of pleasant surprises and agonizing moments, and I truly believe my experience with him, no matter how heartbreaking, set me up to grow more than ever before in the year to come.
I don’t think love has rules, really - some people take years to fall in love, but for others it happens in a second. Humans are strange creatures and our hearts are dangerously mysterious, so why try to make sense of it all?
I don’t want to dwell on him, since my story is not about him - and never will be. But I think acknowledging him is important, especially because of this: he challenged me. He was always harping at me about my goals and what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, and one of the things I told him I wanted to do was start a blog. A little over a month after he left my life, I started this blog. Maybe it was to spite him, maybe it was to show him I could do it - or maybe it was because I needed a push from someone like him to remind me that I was good enough.
Now I know that I am.
There was another big push, though, that encouraged me to start this blog. In March, I took a trip to New York City and ran into Antoni Porowski from Queer Eye at a random cafe. This serendipitous moment, which I wrote about in one of my very first blog posts, was then repeated in October, when a second trip to New York City led to running into both Antoni and Tan France - another Queer Eye star - at Antoni’s restaurant in Chelsea. Both of these moments were clear highlights from my year - not only because of how wildly lucky I had to be to run into Antoni twice in 6 months, but also because Queer Eye unlocked a piece of me that I didn’t know was there.
It’s an ambitious part of me, a part that wants to leave an impact on this world. Meeting Antoni, for whatever reason, is what spurred me to finally throw caution to the wind and start this blog. He got me thinking about how I always feel like I want to help people and have a platform, no matter how small. And yet, I wasn't doing anything about it. I was waiting for something to come to me, rather than working to make it happen.
I know what you’re thinking - everyone who wants to “be” someone starts a blog. But… I don’t care. Starting this blog was about me - what I wanted and what I needed to do. If that translates into a small platform in which I can influence people’s hearts, then so be it. If not, then so be it. It has come to be something I love doing, regardless of how many people are following along - and who can fault me for that?
That spark of ambition led me to another big project this year, which is founding and launching a local non-profit called The Circle. I haven’t talked about this publicly with many people, simply due to the fragile nature of a fledgling idea. It came about as I was getting drinks with one of my mom’s friends, a gay man who has been very successful in his career. I was networking with a string of LGBTQ professionals in Columbus, and he suggested that rather than having one-on-one meetings, why not create a network of local LGBTQ professionals?
Thus, The Circle was born. Our goal is to provide a support group for LGBTQ professionals in Columbus, whether they flip burgers at McDonald’s or run a Fortune 500 company. We want local LGBTQ individuals to be able to form social and professional connections with one another, sharing ideas and getting help when needed. It’s been a big learning experience to tackle something this huge, but I’m happy to say that I’m excited for the future of this group.
Enough of that business stuff - let’s take this back to something you’re probably more interested in: my love life. After The January Guy (as he will now be known), it took me a very long time to pick up the pieces. When he broke my heart, I created collateral damage.
In the months following him, several wonderful, kind, generous men entered my life. I gave my heart a fighting chance with each of them, but none of them deserved to be hurt by the way my heart still yearned for someone else. I made some mistakes in those months, with those people, because I so desperately wanted to fall for one of them that sometimes I took things too far. I led them on, more than I should have. And I hurt them in the process. I will always be sorry for that.
Eventually, I took a step back from trying to date other people. I realized that sometimes we have to give our hearts room to breathe. The more independent phase of my life led into June - Pride Month - and all of the unexpected things that had to offer. I made gay friends, I went to parades, I danced, I partied, I wore my heart on my sleeve - and in the process, I found a way to be happy.
That’s one of the themes of this year, for me: happiness. I even wrote a blog post about that, too, when I realized what it was. Happiness isn’t a state of mind, or even a fleeting glimpse of some greater euphoria. It’s really just something you grab and hold onto when you can, and tuck up on a shelf when you can’t. It isn’t always going to be with you, but you can always find your way back to it.
I’ve rambled too much, but there were other things in my year worth mentioning: becoming even closer with my family (whether that be wearing a matching skirt to a Taylor Swift concert in Nashville with my mom, or going to an aquarium in Cincinnati with my dad, or playing sand volleyball every week with my sister and her husband), finally getting into RuPaul’s Drag Race (what took me so long?), creating a consistent workout schedule that I enjoy, experimenting with clothing and starting to love my sense of style, travelling to New York City multiple times and deciding I want to live there someday, voting in the midterm elections, joining a book club, launching into new endeavors at work, successfully hunting down rare Taylor Swift records, and so much more.
What I really did this year, more than anything else, was learn how to love both myself and my life. None of us are perfect. But if we put ourselves out there, try new things, and take big chances… there’s no limit to what we can discover.
All I can hope for is a 2019 that is just as fruitful (and just as deliciously gay) as this year was. But why leave that up to chance?
I’ll make it happen.
This week’s blog post is brought to you by Plum by Troye Sivan. It's my favorite song from my favorite album of the year from my favorite LGBTQ artist. It’s a joyous celebration of a fleeting moment in time, just like this post. It’s been added to my blog playlist, which you can save and listen to on Spotify.
Now, go seize this year. I believe in you, always.