11 Apr Liberation & Revolutionary Partying, Parte 2: Being at Home
I had the privilege of moving away from home, from Chicago, to DC for college. While I was living in DC, just about every evening, and definitely every night of every weekend, I was surrounded by a tight community of friends (usually a group of 4-5 friends, and sometimes more). We’d hang out, talk, rant, and let it allll hang out – our emotions, worries, anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, joy, jokes, you name it. If we were struggling through an idea for a paper, we’d talk about it. If something was happening with our family, we’d talk about it. If one of us was feeling particularly weighed down by something- usually it was the weight of being Latinx at a prestigious East Coast school and not feeling supported or listened to- we’d talk about it. If we wanted to talk about what being “out” (as LGBTQ people) meant to us and how we were dealing with it, we’d talk about it. If there was an awesome show or concert coming up, we’d talk about it. If we’d had a personal triumph in a conversation in class, we’d talk about it. If we loved something we were reading, we’d pull out our highlighted books, read it out loud and talk about it. If there was a song we wanted to play, we’d play it and sometimes sit in silence and enjoy it, or just get up and start dancing if we felt like it. These gatherings weren’t planned half the time – we’d just show up at one of our houses and hang, kick back and listen to music. And, most of the time, and I truly mean almost every time, we’d end up dancing around someone’s bed or coffee table. Sometimes our sessions were small groups, sometimes we’d do homework while we’d talk and listen to music, sometimes they were full out parties, and they usually had the same pattern – talking, laughing or crying at someone’s place, and ending with dancing, either at our houses, or going somewhere to dance.
Generally being in a community where there were so many open, loving people made me feel validated, appreciated and at ease with myself. In the home, and arguably the larger society, I grew up in, there was no model for being allowed to be me, as I am, and to express myself so openly. So it’s funny that with my friends and in these gatherings I felt like I was at home for the first time. My general environment in those years, and therefore my general state of being, was as if my soul was singing because it was in a space where I could be true to my Self. It wasn’t a constant state of elation, and not everything within our group was perfect. I still struggled on through daily life, but I knew that I had a chosen family who had my back and that I could talk and listen with others and there would be generally be understanding, validation and acceptance. I’d like to refer to this feeling as being at home. Feeling at home is so comfortable and weightless because I don’t feel like I need to explain or defend myself to anyone, and is where I can BE ME and BELONG. It was so powerful for me in so many ways. It helped me accept that I was gay and that there was nothing wrong with that, and that it was OK to share simple things like how I felt (keep in mind, talking about feelings was, and still often is, complicated for me).
Because music, dancing and parties are so intertwined with this experience of chosen family/community, I have a hard time picking apart the impact of both to my life. My community set up the environment in which I could drop my defenses, inhibitions and walls, without which I very much doubt that I would have ever accessed these divine moments of liberation I describe in my last post. My chosen family has truly revolutionized me and the path I’m taking in life. I can’t even imagine who I would be or what my path would be now if I’d stayed closed as a person. These changes took place over time in DC, and have only continued to ripple out across my life so far. I may not be pursuing my art today, or may not have come out until much later in life, or might not have ever realized how creative I am if not for this seminal time period of my life.