A Letter To The Friends I’ve Made

A Letter To The Friends I’ve Made

And even the ones I've had all along.
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To the friends I've made,

Thank you for the memories.

Thank you for the laughs.

Thank you for your presence.

Most of all, thank you for being there when I needed you and thank you for being in my life.

For many people, their first semester of college is a whirlwind and a large cloud of confusion. It’s off-putting getting thrown into a whole new environment where you know almost no one. You’re forced to find your own community and find “your people."

Having gone through two semesters and going into my third, I’m pretty confident that I’ve, for the most part, found “my people." A big thing, personally, is finding my own community and thus, my own people. Before I go on, I’ll explain. By saying that you’ve found “your person” (also a phrase quite popularly taken from "Grey’s Anatomy"), you’ve found someone you feel safe with, someone that you can have a 30-second dance party with, someone that you can tell all of your secrets to or even someone who you see all of these similarities between yourself and them where you say things at the same time or you develop very similar mannerisms the longer you’re friends.

College is this whole new environment you’re basically thrown into and it’s how you bring out your own presence that quite possibly makes a huge university that much smaller. But the people you put together as your own little community quickly become “your people."

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my own struggles of making/keeping friends, but overall, the people I’ve become friends with are people I’ve come to love. Even for the people that I already know and am so thankful for my life, I have two words: thank you.

Between the similarities, mannerisms and each memory created, I cherish every moment. If you haven’t or maybe you have heard me say I’m a big memory person, it’s true. When people say “find your happy place," memories are mine. I love reminiscing about each memory I can remember, even the ones that I remember from my childhood and seem completely random.

But from whatever has come from this past year, the memories made, laughs shared, looks given and so much more, I’m so glad I met you and know you. Just know that you’re becoming some integral part of my web of memories and friends. So thank you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for the laughs. And most of all, thank you for the memories.

Cover Image Credit: Greg Raines

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20 Rules Of A Southern Belle

It is more than just biscuits and grits.
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These unwritten rules separate the people that move to the South and were born and raised in the South. If you were born and raised in a small southern town, you either are a southern belle or hope you get to marry one. Their southern charm is hard to dislike and impossible to be taught.

1. Adults are to be answered with "Yes ma’am" and "Yes sir."

Whether it’s your parents, grandparents, or the person that checks you out at the grocery store, always say yes ma’am.

2. Always write a thank you note.

For any and everything. No gesture is too small.

3. Expect a gentleman to hold the door open and pull out your chair.

Chivalry is not dead; you just need to find the right guy.

4. All tea is sweet.

Below the Mason-Dixon Line, tea is made no other way.

5. Don’t be afraid to cook with butter.

I’ve never met a good cook that didn’t giggle a little.

6. “Coke” refers to all sodas.

Here in the south, this means all types of sodas.

7. Pearls go with anything — literally anything

And every southern belle is bound to have at least one good set.

8. "If it’s not moving, monogram it."

9. Pastels are always in fashion.

And they look good on almost everyone.

10. And so is Lilly Pulitzer.

11. Curls, curls and more curls.

The bigger the hair, the closer to Jesus.

12. If you are wearing sandals, your toenails should be done.

13. Never ever ever wear white shoes, pants, dresses, or purses after Labor Day or before Easter.

Brides are the only exception. Yes we actually do follow this rule.

14. Never leave the house without lipstick.

A little mascara and lipstick can work miracles.

15. Always wear white when you walk down the aisle.

Weddings are taken very seriously here in the South, and they should be nothing but traditional.

16. Southern weddings should always be big.

The more bridesmaids the better.

17. Saturdays in the fall are reserved for college football.

Whether you spend it tailgating in that college town or watching the big game from your living room. You can guarantee that all southerner’s eyes will be glued to the game.

18. Sunday is for Jesus and resting.

19. Learn how to take compliments curiously.

20. Have class, always.

Cover Image Credit: Daily Mail

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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