The Loneliness of Being a Gay Man in 2017

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Learning to Fly with Broken Wings and Learning to Love with a Broken Heart


I’ve oft discussed this phenomenon on my radio program (‘Trev,’ Wednesdays from 8:30 – 10:30 PM CT on uicradio.org and the mobile app Radio FX, also soundcloud.com/trevshow), one in which LGBTQ+ youth in particular struggle to fit in with a group that truly meshes with their identity and damaged sense of self. You see, the one thing that truly unites queer people is a certain level of damage. This damage can arise from a variety of sources and circumstance.

Paradoxically, gay men in particular find very little difficulty attaching themselves to individuals physically, sexually or romantically. What results is a very isolated and unstable foundation of support. Placing all bets on a single, extremely flawed individual is a sure fire way to return not only to the loneliness with which one was accustomed to before, but in fact an even deeper, darker sense of isolation. One fraught with the always-difficult transition from companionship back to solitude. The transition in and of itself is not one containing smooth or stable components.

The underlying issue is that, by their nature, gay men are, frequently, incredibly damaged. Indeed the basis of a romantic, male, homosexual relationship is one between two parties who haven’t been shown much love in life and yet are expected to somehow know how to do it. The results speak for themselves. I do not think it is a stretch to say that the extremely high rates of suicide among queer youth can be directly traced to this sort of all-or-nothing level of support.

See, when a heterosexual goes through a breakup, there is an entire community of support waiting for them in the wings. Mom, dad, sister uncle, all universally relate and empathize with the heartbroken straight boy. Conversely, homosexuality, even now, is something that at the very least isn’t spoken of among even the inner-most core of a family structure, even if it isn’t vocally opposed. Adding to this is the media’s frequent portrayal of happy, fulfilled gay couples (primarily white and male in nature).

The overused cliche of puberty is one of a caterpillar turning into a beautiful, transformed butterfly, which older butterfly creepily comment and make advances towards, but that’s besides the point. (These are the butterflies who could end up violently splattered on the grille of a car without even a modicum of remorse on behalf of literally everyone. Good riddance, you pervy rainbow moth). Gay puberty features significantly more bumps along the way.

Imagine, instead, of a caterpillar in its cocoon being ripped from the branch, stomped on repeatedly, and somehow managing to emerge, broken, but alive nonetheless. This damaged larva begins its post-transformation existence with broken wings, attempting to the best of its ability to assimilate into the life and culture of its peers. Often failing to do so, a fellow damaged monarch approaches it and offers, at once, a sense of familiarity, unity and aid. Finally, someone who gets it.

Instead of insects, imagine that damage lies within the heart of a human being. A heart that has faced dogma and violent opposition of its own kind. Mothers, grandparents and “friends” alike. The heart of a young, gay man is one that has been stomped and bruised since its inception. While it continues to beat, through lens of judgment and basic survival, it fails to empathize with those even within its own community. Infidelity, internalized homophobia, and all sorts of destructive behaviors are fueled by an overwhelming sense of self-hatred and guilt. Things that are not intrinsically or naturally a product of its lifestyle, but rather the environment with which it so inefficaciously tries to perform. A gay man is a butterfly with broken wings trying its best to fly. A gay man is a human with a broken heart, trying its best to love.


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Wednesdays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

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Blahsmopolitan No. 12: “Last Teenage Sleep” AKA “I Drifted Through Space for Twenty Years and All I Got Was This Gross Body”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a column about one sophomore’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago. This week, our columnist turns twenty, thinks about his place in the universe, and learns how to type the long dash in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

last week i had a panic attack on the treadmill at the gym because the belts were moving too fast and creating too much friction so it started to smell like burning rubber and i read this article that said people who have strokes say they smell burnt toast right before they have the stroke but i felt like maybe i could’ve misread the article so i sat on the floor of planet fitness and said “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” out loud to myself ten times because when my grandma had a stroke she said she couldn’t form sentences and i wanted to make sure i could still use every letter in the alphabet and when i finally calmed down i still felt fat so i switched machines and stayed for another 30 minutes

i’m 20 years old tomorrow and i texted my mom and asked if my birthday dinner could be popeye’s which makes me feel maladjusted

none of the “wonders” that humans made off the backs of slaves are really even that cool to me- the only things i’ve ever found quote-unquote beautiful are things that would’ve existed with or without us which makes me unbelieve and believe in God, respectively

if i was born on accident then why am i the one being punished Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 12: “Last Teenage Sleep” AKA “I Drifted Through Space for Twenty Years and All I Got Was This Gross Body””

Feeling SAD: Battling Fall/Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder

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With week 8 of the Fall 2017 semester coming to a close, I feel simultaneously relieved and unnerved. We’re almost there! Yay! But also, holy s**t.

Regardless of whether you’re excited or terrified that the semester is half way over, a congratulations is most definitely in order.

Pass those midterms! The happy avocado believes in you! And so do I.

This week, I wanted to check in on my blog readers because, in addition to the stress that midterm season brings, this time of year is rather difficult for me because I get SAD.

And no, I don’t mean ‘sad’ like when you watch a movie and any slightly touching moment that happens transforms you into an inconsolable whirlwind of tears. No? Just me? Okay, cool.

Well, I’m talking about seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Those who suffer from SAD — which can either be a stand-alone or an additional sub-type of major depression — typically experience it around early fall, leading into and throughout the winter months. However, experiencing SAD in the spring/summer is totally possible, too.

Essentially, it’s a seasonal form of depression that pokes its head around the corner each year, around the same time of year. I take fall/winter SAD rather seriously because most people brush it off as ‘normal’ to feel down as the temperatures plummet, mislabeling the sensation a ‘winter blues.’

While it’s normal to feel down now and then, it’s important to understand that SAD is very much not that, just like depression =/= feeling sad. SAD is a form of depression characterized by persisting, prolonged periods of lethargy, oversleeping, not sleeping enough, hopelessness, overeating, not eating enough, etc. — much like major depression.

In my case, SAD takes shape as soon as I notice that sun is beginning to disappear before 6pm. Less sunlight means less serotonin, which can be a depression breeding ground. The simplest tasks start to feel more impossible than usual. My limbs become leaden, my drive is all but extinguished, my confidence is obliterated, and my thoughts are poisonous.

I’ve never been able to prevent SAD, and that’s the truly crummy part about some forms of depression — they don’t leave, you merely learn how to better handle them — but, in addition to the obvious solutions like therapy, medication, exercise, supplements, a balanced diet, and so on, I had an epiphany recently.

Amidst the relentless sea of responsibilities and obligations that consume us in the approaching winter months, how much of what we do is because we actually want to be doing it? And I’m talking, no strings attached.

This semester, I’m enrolled full-time and I’m working two part time jobs, one of which entails being a research assistant for a professor — i.e. reading scholarly articles all week, trying to understand them, and looking at Excel spreadsheets until my vision fails.

I took a hard look at my life and realized that the only ‘fun’ I’ve allowed myself is watching half of Food Network’s Chopped re-runs in between post-workout eating and showering. Everything else? Work. Stress. Deadlines.

So this week, I’m turning that question around on you. When was the last time you did something just for the hell of it? Have a heart to heart with yourself and reevaluate your schedule and your methods of self care. Our jobs, educations, and other responsibilities take priority, but our mental health should too.

X,

Katerina

 

 

 

Blahsmopolitan No. 11: “Friendly Creature Double Feature” AKA “Home Is Where the Shart Is”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a column about one sophomore’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago. New stories are posted every other Thursday alongside an audio reading and a curated Blahsmo playlist to take the journey yourself. This week, our columnist has skips class, has digestive troubles, and goes home (whatever that means) in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

 

My mom used to go to the movies alone.

She was sixteen years old and very, very cool. I mean cool in the sense that she was tough, a girl that nobody wanted to f*ck with, but a girl engulfed in so much effortless mystery that you wanted to know her with every fiber of your being. Digging through old stuff before I left for college, I found a picture of her from 1992, a little before my time, crouching down in shiny black Doc Martens, high white socks, french tip nails, a messy bun pulled up high, and a huge leather jacket with nothing underneath it, staring directly into the camera, looking like she had something to say.

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Blahsmopolitan No. 10: “Urbana-Champaign for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends” AKA “You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Show His D**k”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one sophomore’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago. New stories are posted every other Monday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist, and an audio reading, to take the journey yourself. This week, our columnist meets the four Fates of U of I, crosses paths with a probable murderer, and goes skinny dipping in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.


I hear people tiptoeing around me. Floorboards make little creaks and doors are opened and closed ever so gingerly. All talk is kept to a hushed murmuring. Am I still wearing my boots?

Ohmigoddddd, how are we gonna fit the Omega through the dooooooor?”

“I don’t know, Sylvie. I just don’t wanna chip it. The girls were up so late painting it last night.”

God is doing the Hoedown Throwdown on my skull and has injected fire ants into my temples.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 10: “Urbana-Champaign for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends” AKA “You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Show His D**k””

UIC Radio’s Fourth Annual Battle Of The Bands!

This past Friday, UIC Radio held its fourth annual Battle of the Bands at The Bar 10 Doors on Taylor Street. The lineup included UIC bands August Hotel, Lettucehead, Brian Sees Stars, The Red Flag Boys, Turbulence, and The Land Lines.

After an energetic set from all the bands, the top 3 winners included: 1. LETTUCEHEAD, 2. Turbulence, and 3. August Hotel.

UIC Radio sincerely thanks all the bands for their hard work and dedication to performing, and helping create a night full of music and fun for all who attended!

photos by Pearl Shin

The “Friend Zone” Isn’t Real, Maybe I Just Don’t Like You

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NOTE: The friend zone is a social construct which originated from the inter-workings of instances of unrequited affection in heterosexual courtship. While it is in no way permissible for females to impose this dynamic on males, this piece emphasizes the roles of the friend zone phenomenon from the perspective of those who the social system oppresses pervasively, females.

A majority of the men in my past will tell you I placed them in the “friend zone.”

Two words, noun. One word, verb.

A man feels that he has been friendzoned” when a woman, whom he is sexually interested in, does not reciprocate sexual interest and sees him as “just a friend” despite all of the nice gestures he has done for her.

But the “friend zone” isn’t a place and you can’t actually get “friendzoned.”

Throughout our lives we categorize our relationships. We have our friends, our family, our co-workers, our colleagues, our neighbors, our significant others, and so on. These categories are complex and can be unpacked further and further into specific sub-categories.

In the broadest sense of categorization, there are two spheres of people in our lives: the people we have sex with and the people we don’t have sex with. Sex can only occur when there is consent.

The way the social dynamic of the “friend zone” operates is problematic because it strips women of their person-hood by placing the fault on them for their lack of consent.

When a man gets upset with a woman because she has placed him in the “friend zone,” he is upset that after all of his kind efforts, he is being denied access to her body. She has broken the social contract and has not kept up her part of the transaction.

I have been verbally threatened on many occasions for this very reason.

This is shameful, not only for the fact that no one is entitled ownership to a body that is not theirs, but because bodies are not something to be owned. Women have no obligation to lay with men because no such contract exists.

And yet, under this frame of thinking men develop a sense of entitlement which the internet likes to refer to as “nice guy syndrome.”

Nice guy syndrome (NGS) is a term designated to men who describe themselves as genuine “nice guys” and use kind gestures as thinly veiled disguises in order to emotionally satisfy women into a romantic relationship and/or sex.

A man with NGS, will hold open the door, pay for your meal, bring you a rose, buy you a “just-because” gift, among other nice gestures, with the expectation that there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But women are not coin-operated machines. There is not a proper combination of nice, coercion-coins men can offer women who are sexually and/or emotionally disinterested that will convince them into dispensing their vaginas.

There is not a single damn thing that is sexy, romantic, or respectful about starting a relationship by having to coerce someone into giving you a chance because you’re such a “nice guy.”

Maybe I just don’t like you.

 

 

UIC Radio – Intercollegiate Broadcasting Systems Awards 2017

This past weekend, UIC Radio attended the 2017 Intercollegiate Broadcasting Systems conference in New York City. UIC Radio was nominated for 7 awards. Categories included: Best Specialty Show, Best Show Promo, Best Station Promotional Poster, Best College Radio Streaming Station (More Than 10,000 Students), Best Website, Best Blog, and Best Use of Social Media.

After an educational weekend filled with informative ways to improve your radio station targeted at high school and college students, as well as hosting a panel on blogging, UIC Radio walked away with the trophy for Best Website in the nation and finalist trophies for the six other categories.

From all of us at UIC Radio, we would like to thank all of our readers and listeners for all the support!

Chicago Donut Fest 2017: A.K.A. Easier to Wake up for Than My 8am Class

Friends, I have a confession. Y’know how sports are the utmost reverenced and widely accepted pinnacle of American culture? Well, I have never cared for these competitive sportsball games, of any kind.

But this year I’ve learned there is one competition I can get behind, one where everyone ends up a winner (ish).

Donut Fest is an annual celebration—held in Chicago, New York, and Cleveland—which invites the best local restaurants and bakeries to bring their doughnut A-game in hopes of receiving the most votes to earn the title of “Best Donut.”

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The most rewarding part about being a fan of this sport is its simplicity: you show up, you receive tickets, you give the tickets to the booths, you get donuts and coffee, and then, finally, you eat the donuts, release several satisfying moans and wonder why you haven’t been starting every morning prior to this very moment with donuts.

The worst part was definitely having to wake up at 6am on a Sunday, but it was a small price to pay to have been granted early access to donut heaven before the general public and earning the official title of “Donut V.I.P.” which, for the record, better be engraved onto my future tombstone.

This year’s Donut Fest featured 11 donut vendors including Chicago donut staples like Stan’s Donuts, Glazed and Infused, and Doughnut Vault and suburban underdog shops like B’s Sweet Bites (Des Plaines), DeEtta’s Bakery (Naperville), and Gurnee Donuts (Gurnee).

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Left to Right: S’mores (Beavers Donuts), Chocolate Sour Cream Old Fashion (DeEtta’s Bakery), Mango Sriracha (Glazed and Infused), Pretzel Style Donut (B’s Sweet Bites), Dark Chocolate Butter Finger (Stan’s Donuts), Cinnamon Sugar (Beavers Donuts), Cookies ‘n’ Cream (Doughnut Vault), Mint Chocolate Chip (Glazed and Infused), Vanilla Glazed with Sprinkles (Cochon Volant)

I wish I could say that I didn’t eat 80 percent of what is pictured above in one sitting—in addition to the donuts from 4 other vendors that I ate immediately because I sadly only have two hands—but I did. #Healthy #CleanLiving

However, as justification, it was for the greater good.  As a Donut V.I.P., it was my duty to assess the flavors of each donut and cast my vote for the most deserving candidate.

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I did my best to leave my predisposition for Glazed and Infused’s donuts far from my decision-making, and ended up casting my vote for Gurnee Donuts’ Buko Pandan, a young green coconut glazed donut inspired by a popular Filipino dessert.

The official judges awarded DeEtta’s Bakery of Naperville with a trophy for their Chocolate Sour Cream Old Fashion, while the crowd deemed Doughnut Vault’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream best in show.

Until next week!

X,

Katerina

Blahsmopolitan No. 7: “No Crying in the Uber” AKA “Help! I’m Stalling and I Can’t Get Up!”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. (Not this week, though!) This week, our columnist breaks his leg, breaks the same leg again, and considers a conspiracy theory in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

The first week of my first semester, I did a celebratory kick at my first college party, tore a ligament, and fell in blinding, screaming agony in front of everybody. Within seconds, a circle of staring sorority girls had cleared around me as I frantically tried to pull myself off the ground to no avail. In retrospect, I probably looked hilarious, but at the time, it was no joke. I could straight up not stop screaming. Not, like, cute groaning and embarrassed smiling. No performance- dead eyes, and full-bodied shrieking. Water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Not kidding.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 7: “No Crying in the Uber” AKA “Help! I’m Stalling and I Can’t Get Up!””