The new single, The Good Side, shows the most tender side of Troye that we have been able to see throughout his music career so far. The acoustic song plays out the apologetic side of growing out of a relationship, and falling in love with someone new. Serving us a much more organic production and honest intimacy within the lyrics, it’s almost impossible to not fall into your feelings while listening to this one.
Troye offers up a lullaby of an apology to his ex-boyfriend with lines such as, “Found arms to fall right into, I know how it looked, it wasn’t the plan, and some day I hope that you’ll understand that I sympathize, and I recognize, and baby, I apologize that I got the good side, the good side of things,” and the most heart-wrenching part, “I’m sure we’ll meet in the spring and catch up on everything, I’ll say I’m proud of all that you’ve done ,you taught me the ropes, and you taught me to love.”
This gentle syrupy song was a side of Troye that I was not expecting to hear, but I am so here for it. With the whimsical acoustic guitar chords and the soft vocals, The Good Side, is reinvigorating to breakup anthems everywhere. While most breakup songs stand bitter and angsty, this one reaches for closure, growth, and healing.
Again I say, I will always be inspired and awed by Troye’s talent. I can’t wait to sob all night with The Good Side on repeat.
You can watch Troye perform his new singles live this Saturday on SNL.
My name is Tara and I put out articles for UIC Radio every Thursday. I’m a communication and professional writing major at the University of Illinois at Chicago. If you want to keep up with my saucy life you can follow me here:
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.
This is the first installment of a multi-part series detailing my experiences during the initial realization of my sexuality at twelve years old and the subsequent struggles I endured because of it. Capturing these moments is a difficult and extremely emotional process for me. I hope at least some of you will read along and find something worthwhile. – Trev
Part I: Sitting on the Edge of Heaven
Self discovery can be a tremendously beautiful and illuminating experience. It is a time when a young person chisels the brilliantly unique sculpture that is their identity, sharing characteristics with many others yet somehow amalgamating into one that is wholly its own. I remember the initial joy I felt: pure, unreserved. An abundance of internal confetti rained down as all the various parts of my self united for a toast over a grand celebration of realized soul. Recognizing a personal talent, experiencing a first kiss, discovering a taste in music or a sense of fashion; there are few processes on this Earth as manifestly beautiful and natural as this. Left to its default, this time can contain some of the most glorious experiences in a person’s life. For some, this is exactly the case. For others, such as myself, the party gets busted. This is more in the sense of a malicious raid conducted by abusers of authority rather than justice being brought upon some obstreperous breakers of law. It didn’t start out awful, however.
My development began like anyone else’s. Eighth grade was the year I discovered a significant amount of myself, especially the sexual components, while the previous three were mainly focused on basic survival. Middle school was a mostly dark and treacherous tunnel of an experience, but eighth grade would emerge as the beaming light at the end of it. It’s not that I was brutally shoved into lockers or stricken with abject poverty. Materially and externally, I recognize that I’ve lived a relatively fortunate life. My assaults have been almost exclusively emotional in nature. These, of course, range from the minor to the more substantial. For an example of the former, when it came time for the rather inclusive fifth grade Christmas play, yours truly was honored with the role of the most corpulent character in all the land: Santa Claus.
Getting stuck with the part of Crisco Kringle can be attributed to my being quite portly in those days. Upon receiving the role, I was distinctly told by my teacher that we would place, “… a pillow or something,” under the tawdry, red outfit when the time came, because of course I hadn’t been typecast for being the plumpest pupil in the room. Needless to say, come showtime, it became quite clear that my designation was based on fitting the costume more than the role. After getting dressed I asked about the proposed padding only to be met with a terse, “I think we’ll be okay.” Yep. So this festive Humpty Dumpty rolled his jolly, fat ass onto that stage and gave it his all, sans pillow or dignity. It’s worth noting that I don’t have much red in my wardrobe to this very day, as if the mere sight of it irritates me, like some kind of bulimic bull. This is still far less direct than the time my seventh grade history teacher recommended I try out for shot put because I was, ‘nice and stout,’ (to this day I get triggered when perusing selections of beer) followed by derisive chuckling by both he and my supposed “best friend” at the time. Both at home and within those halls, these sorts of minor aggressions would be consistent but trivial compared to the larger tribulations to come.
General body dysmorphia aside, by eighth grade I had started eating better and moving more. Turns out self-hatred can be somewhat of a motivator, at least temporarily. Point is, I was feelin’ myself. I had an unprecedented level of confidence and comfort towards school, in part because that prepubescent, transitional phase where kids are desperate to prove their maturity and value against increased competition had simmered down. People had on the whole chilled the f*ck out, at least until next year, when we’d once again be launched into the bottom of a feral, hormonal wilderness. It was at this time I also started to recognize my attraction to other boys. In the earliest stages, before feelings left the unnoticed, background hum of subconscious and entered the frontal realm of labels and suppositions, these feelings granted me nothing short of unadulterated bliss. Crushes developed, boners boned as my overly naive mind navigated itself through exciting, new territory. All of this culminated into a moment where I was taking care of the placement of teachers’ mail per my duties as an ‘office assistant.’ (This willingness to please and assist authority would come to plague my development more than anything else.) Staring into a name tag-covered wall of schlocky, wooden cubes, my internal monologue reached it’s breaking point. Just say it. Admit it to yourself. Aloud, alone, I resigned and whispered, “I’m gay.”
In this instant I actually smiled. There was no feeling of wickedness or vice. Once the word had materialized, however, it was a short amount of time before indoctrinated judgement cast its dark, unloving shadow. My party got busted. The scratching sound of needle being abruptly ripped from vinyl pierced through the room as men in uniform despotically kicked down my doors of self, barking and breaking as the joy was replaced with fear and the celebrating turned to living nightmare. Such is often the experience of being gay in rural America. Much like the figurative festivity, the risk of continued disruption is usually mitigated by relocation, ideally to places that honor the separation of foliage and fashion. I tabled the problem at hand for the time being.
Over the following weeks and months I endured internal warfare. Images of the scaly, smelly flesh of demons that had been taught to my obsessive compulsive mind since I was six flooded my spirit. Shrieks of anguished and aflame dis-obeyers served as the soundtrack to what was supposed to be a formative and wonderful period of my life. The invisible crusade raged on until, one night, I decided to call upon the One I had been taught to in times like this. I knew what I was feeling was wrong, but I didn’t actually feel wrong. I also knew that I loved God very, very much, and I wanted all of his love in return. So, amidst the backdrop of another unnervingly still, Midwestern night, feeling as small as I ever had, I seated my twelve year old self on the edge of my bed. With desperation and incertitude, I held my clammy, adolescent hands together and spoke to him, aloud, “God, if there is any way, any way at all for you to love me the way I am, please do. Please, show me that you do.” There was no response. I remained confused and alone, waiting for God to love me. Waiting for permission to love myself.
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. This week, our columnist turns nineteen, is visited by a Prophet who spoonfeeds him Ramen, and has an intense encounter with a psychic in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.
Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify. Blahsmopolitan and its playlists contain mature themes.
In one day, I am going to be nineteen years old. There is something about the thought of being alive for damn near two decades that makes you feel like you have been milling around the world picking your nose and saying “duhhh” for your entire conscious life. Twenty years is a long time to be alive and talking about probably writing a book someday. Twenty years is a long time to be alive with little to show for it except two tickets for underage drinking on public record.
What would people say at my funeral at this point?
“Gosh. Good old Nick, man. Pretty loud and gay, huh? Anyway, l’chaim.”
TRIGGER WARNING: The following post contains language depicting various forms of mental, emotional, and physical domestic violence which may be triggering for those who have fallen victim to such forms of abuse in the past or are struggling currently.
Additionally, though this post focuses on the domestic violence inflicted on women, by men, it in no way seeks to diminish or reject the existence of females abusing males, males abusing males, females abusing females, etc. in (romantic) relationships.
Seven years ago, you abused me for the first time.
One time became two times—then three, then four—and then I lost count for the next two years.
You were possessive.
You insisted on approving (but more often disapproving) of my friends: knowing who I was with, where we were going, and what we were doing at all times.
You were manipulative.
You threw my makeup in the trash and policed how I dressed my body—asserting yourself as the ultimate decider of how I should present myself in order to avoid the gaze of other males.
You punished me.
You clenched my wrists, bruised my limbs, and wrenched me from hair until I apologized for “acting out of line.”
You smothered my voice.
I didn’t want to cut my hair, but you threatened to shave my head if I didn’t keep it short. Every day under your control was a waking nightmare—the kind where screams are inaudible and movements are leaden.
You ravaged me.
I struggled greatly to unlearn the warped, vindictive, malicious, sadistic blueprint for romantic relationships you created and coerced me into accepting as normal.
According to the United States’ national teen helpline, loveisrespect, “one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.”
If this statistic feels inapplicable to you, try this one on for size: “Nearly 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime” and “most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.”
One in three: this could be your neighbor, your teacher, your classmate, your best friend, your sister—it’s me.
Seven years ago, he abused me for the first time, but I’m okay now.
I have a healthy romantic relationship. I feel supported, and loved, unconditionally even. We have trust. We communicate. I am encouraged to speak and act freely. Visions of my ex-abuser no longer invite themselves into my consciousness, so why am I typing this?
Last week, I sat through my first appointment with a talk therapist and answered a series of preliminary questions which are asked to all new clients during their first assessment.
When she asked if I had ever experienced physical or sexual abuse, I averted my gaze and nodded my head. When she asked how old I was at the time of the abuse I felt my heartbeat quicken as I muttered, “fourteen.” When she asked if it happened more than once I pleaded with the hot tears welling in the corners of my eyes not to budge from where they sat and nodded in silence.
I was blindsided; this was my first time having someone else initiate the discussion confirming that the abuse actually occurred. As the conversation continued, I began to sob. I was floored.
He abused me for the first time, seven years ago.
Am I really okay? Well, now I wasn’t so sure.
Flash forward from Tuesday to this past Friday, I did something I never thought I would do; I had my hair cut, a whole 5+ inches shorter. I had been growing it out for the last seven years, originally in defiance of him and as a way of reclaiming control over my person.
However, cutting it was unrelated; I was not consciously considering how he fit into the equation. I felt my life was stagnant and I wanted a change.
I loved it. I felt free, weightless, confident, and beautiful.
And then, it dawned on me. My hair is short, and I’m okay. Hell, I’m not okay; I’m fantastic. Why am I so…calm?
I used to wake from night terrors—sweating, panic-stricken—thinking my hair had been butchered by an inexperienced hairdresser. Truthfully, these thoughts came when I was wide awake too. I spent four of those seven years with ragged split-ends refusing to let anyone trim them in the slightest.
But it wasn’t about the length of my hair; it was about control. In those years, cutting my hair would have meant executing my ex-abuser’s will, regardless of the fact that we had been separated for quite some time. He couldn’t possibly lay a hand on me again, but every part of me felt haunted..
That was just my life after him.
He was gone, but the abuse lingered. All of the hatred, insults, and torment he subjected me to was coded into my mind and I maintained it routinely, subconsciously.
“You can’t cut your hair with your body frame. You’ll look hideous, and fat.”
“Your bare face is disgusting. You can’t go out without covering your acne.”
“You should stop trying. You have no talents. Every thing you can do somewhat well means nothing; there are hundreds of thousands of people who can do them all better than you.”
“You are worthless. The people in your life are beyond what you deserve, and they all know it too.”
These thoughts, among others, played on an endless loop, daily—some days faintly in the background, other days screeching brashly into a megaphone. Whatever their volume, they had become a regular part of my day. They kept me in check, controlled.
Seven years ago, he abused me for two years and taught me how to abuse myself for a lifetime.
But I didn’t hear any of those thoughts on Friday, or Saturday, neither on Sunday nor today, Monday.
It was pretty quiet without them there, but I think I’ll manage.
I would always roll my eyes when others claimed my relationships were in the “honeymoon phase.” Who are they to reduce the meaningful connection and deep emotions I felt for my significant other to something so fleeting?
I have a had deep disdain for these terms for the entirety of my dating life. The very existence of these concepts perpetuates the thought that, at some point, you and your significant other will start to love each other less.
Weren’t terms like “puppy love” just doubting generalizations made by older generations to discredit the idea that teens and young adults could have love for each other?
Well, while the majority of people who would say these things to me were a generation or two older than me, I have had a handful of people, who I had been dating at the time, state the our relationship was transitioning out of the “honeymoon phase.”
However, there is a difference between how these two groups manipulate these phrases. While older generations use them to describe how the love-drunken goggles we wear in the initiating stages of a relationship are shed as time progresses, younger generations use them as excuses for why they eventually cease putting forth effort as a relationship stagnates.
Does a relationship naturally stagnate after a certain point? Or do relationships stagnate as a result of either party, or both, putting forth less effort?
There is no way to give a definitive answer—for all relationships are unique and possess many differing variables and outliers—but, as a hyper-attendant, love-dovey significant other, I was never able to wrap my head around the reasoning of my peers.
If you love someone, truly, why would you ever pass up an opportunity to express how important they are to you?
Sure, after some times passes, both parties will get comfortable, so there’s less pressure all around. Shaving regularly? Meh. Eating with perfect manners? Not required. Putting on makeup everyday? No thanks. Professing your feelings for the other person? What for? “We’re already dating/engaged/married/etc.”
Maybe you’ve lost the urge to shout your devotion to this person from the rooftops, but does that mean the “spark” is fading? Is it fair to say the relationship has left the “honeymoon phase?”
Yesterday night, as my boyfriend and I sat in my living room, painstakingly collaborating on my horrendous statistics homework for four hours, both frustrated, moody, exhausted, and agitated, the realization dawned on me: My relationship has left the honeymoon phase.
We’ve traded our weekend road-trips and spontaneous food adventures for nights spent indoors, scheduled around long homework sessions with half hour dinner breaks, followed by rewarding ourselves with a bit of Netflix only to pass out from exhaustion ten minutes into the movie.
Between my boyfriend’s career, his graduate courses, caring for a new puppy, and me, being enrolled in the second half of my junior year at UIC—which entails ridiculously time-demanding course work as a Communications major, English minor (i.e. a horrendous amount of reading)—our once central focus on our interpersonal relationship has been brushed to the side.
The “honeymoon phase” is over, but it does not hold the implications I believed it would.
Though our lives are hectic, and we have not had a full day alone together, I do not love him any less. The “spark” has not faded. Neither of us are trying any less than before.
But nothing is the same.
I once believed such a day would never come if you were with the right person, but the key difference between leaving the “honeymoon phase” with the wrong person versus with the right person, lies in the outcome.
When this happens with the wrong person, resentment usually settles in. You’ll question why she’s not complimenting you as much, why he’s distant, why she’s moody, etc. You’ll fixate on all the negative aspects of change and, eventually, you’ll part ways.
When this happens with the right person, you’ll (typically) be too busy to notice. Once you take a moment and the realization hits you, you’ll reflect on the time that has passed. Though so much has changed, maybe some things in such ways with which you are not entirely content, you’re still thankful.
You’ll focus on the positives: how he’ll work for eight hours then spend his down time taking over puppy monitoring just so you can have a half-hour to yourself or the way she rubs your shoulders after you’ve had a long day even though she’s exhausted too.
Your lives may be changing in terrifying, seemingly impossible, ways but you appreciate the fact that you’re facing it together.
Adversity changes all relationships, but when it strengthens your bond instead of causing it to fall apart, that is the true definition of leaving the “honeymoon phase.”
You won’t love less; you’ll love unconsciously. Differently, but naturally.
Okay, I’ll say it. Your parents have probably been lying to you.
No, I’m not talking about the Santa-isn’t-real betrayal or that “drinking coffee stunts your growth” myth they probably fed you as a child.
I’m talking about the lies they might have pressured you with about dating, relationships, and marriage, specifically emphasizing the importance of ending up with someone from your same culture.
These ideals are particularly indicative of households where both parents are from the same culture, socialize primarily within that culture, and, in some cases, are born or raised in the country where the culture originates or is fairly prominent.
As the only daughter of two super traditional Greek parents (one a native Greek, the other non-native), this has been my life for the past twenty years.
Just like Toula Portokalos (played by Nia Vardalos) from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, my parents have been nudging me to marry a Greek guy. Since day one, my old-fashioned, Greek immigrant dad has warned me to keep away from all of the Ian Miller types out there by labeling anyone who isn’t Greek a “xeno” (ksEH-no), a word that originates from the Greek word xenos (ξένος in Greek lettering) meaning “stranger” or “foreigner”.
Despite their efforts, I have never dated a Greek guy, nor will I ever.
Greek men are typically strong-willed, boisterous, stubborn, and a bit narcissistic. They’re also charming, romantic, and spontaneous. I realized I couldn’t date/marry a Greek man because I basically just described myself (kidding, kind of).
All jokes aside, the real reason why is because I love xenos: I love talking to them, befriending them, and sometimes (gasp) dating them. Learning about different cultures has always fascinated me, and in the same respect, people seem to be enchanted by me when I talk about my Greek heritage.
We are so accustomed to our own cultures that what may seem normal to us could be a completely new concept or practice to someone else! This statement is especially applicable to holidays.
My family and I jokingly refer to yesterday as “American Easter” to differentiate between Western/Catholic Easter and our Eastern/Orthodox Christian Easter, which typically fall on different days due to the Catholic and Orthodox churches following different calendars (this year they are a month apart).
Yesterday, I experienced my first full-fledged American Easter with my boyfriend and his family and, needless to say, I was pretty excited to learn how he and his family celebrates, but when I arrived, I felt kind of shy and uncomfortable.
When you’re accustomed to family gatherings entailing a house full of extremely noisy, bantering Greeks, a relaxed Easter gathering is a bit of a shock. I was completely unaware that it was possible for a family to enjoy each other’s company and converse using their “indoor voices” — a notion I have only heard of in theory. It was enjoyable, and my ear drums enjoyed being able to relax.
My discomfort dispelled just in time for me to be exposed to new food, hooray! Though I was missing the roasted lamb, dolmades (rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices), and feta cheese, I discovered the joys of baked corn.
I know how silly this must seem, but it was completely foreign to me! The dish looked strange; it was like a fluffy corn soufflé with blackened, crispy edges. My eyes informed me it was burnt so I should skip it, but my nose was telling me to take ten scoops of the mystery dish. Relationships are all about compromise, so I took only two scoops.
One bite in, and I was hooked. The outer layer was crunchy, almost bread-like, and the inside was creamy and sweet, having been baked in an oven amplified the natural sweetness of the corn. I was overjoyed and couldn’t stop raving about it all day.
I wasn’t even missing lamb at this point. I was just so pleased to enjoy the day with my boyfriend, try new things, and experience his family’s version of Easter.
When the day had ended, I realized two things.
Obviously, I learned that I should have initially listened to my nose and I now desperately need that baked corn recipe.
More importantly, as we all know, holidays are about getting together with the people you care about and enjoying each others company. It doesn’t matter if they’re loud or soft-spoken, or if they serve dolmades or baked corn (though I’ll probably put a word in with my family about it). We might celebrate differently, but we come together for the same reason.
All corniness (I’m so sorry) aside, I’m pretty sure I aced American Easter. We’ll see how my boyfriend handles his first Greek Easter (affectionately nicknamed “Greeaster” by my cousins and I) on May 1st.
Between all the commotion and my grandma lovingly insisting we should have seconds and thirds, something tells me he might have a tougher go at it than I did.
How cynical right? Wrong! Quite the contrary actually. Valentine’s Day is in fact the best day out of the year to dump your significant other. First off by dumping them on Vday you’ll allow them a solid 24 hours of crying and utter confusion and then the next day all chocolates and candies will be 50% off in stores. They can take out all their anger and sadness in the candy aisle in Target. Secondly, your now ex lover can join the millions on social media who despise Valentine’s Day and make a angry subtweet about how #stupid this day is. What is good about this you ask? Your ex now has their own support group to get through this breakup. Lastly, and most important if you ask me, by breaking up with someone on Valentine’s Day you are forcing them to become a strong independent individual. How many times have you said to yourself, “Well I got through (crazy depressing event) so I can get through anything”? You ex will now be able to face every tough situation with a new face, and you’re the reason behind that. In a twisted way, breaking up with them on Valentine’s time is actually ensuring them a better handle in future situations. Let that marinate for a minute.
On a different note, I hope you all had fabulous Valentine’s day, whether is was spent with friends or lovers. If you did get dumped, remember that you will pull through and if you did the dumping, high five.