THE INFUSED MIXTAPE — THE PRIDE EDITION
It’s impossible to explain to someone what it’s like to live a day in the life of a body and mind that is in conflict with itself. It’s like a woman trying to explain to someone what it’s like to be pregnant; you need to experience it to truly understand. In my case, it was the horrific voices in your head, imploring you, begging you, to look at something else, other than the boy whom you were told not to look at. Your culture, your God, your family, and the whole neighborhood united standing by to remind you that you are a sinner for even considering the possibility. When we were kids, we used to throw rocks at the “weird” ones in our neighborhood, because the adults who raised us with and put these distorted thoughts in our heads led us to thinking it was not only okay; it was even the right thing to do. As I began to feel the tingle for both boys and girls, a conflict raged in my brain between those hateful thoughts and the feelings that felt like home to me, even though I knew those feelings somehow were wrong in society’s eyes.
Like so many teenagers before me, I turned to the one salve I could trust: music. Music became the soundtrack to my safe harbor; the universes I could inhabit between my ears were that were walled off and protected from the rest of the world. I was ready to be a bohemian even back then, ready to run away and find my tribe and my home. In the melodies, I could run and be free. The song lyrics could say so eloquently what I was too afraid to utter, and the beats could calm my chaotic and raging mind. With the creation of the walkman, a dinosaur to our current music choice on our phones, I could be my greatest self, even if it was only between my ears, and no one could ever know. Unfortunately, it would take me another thirty years before I could finally be public about those thoughts that twisted me up inside. And I write this finally living as a person who is queer as fuck and fully accpting my truest self.
I grew up in New York City during one of the most critical times in the fight for queer acceptance and liberation. The free love of the 70’s disco turned to the fear of AIDS in the 80’s, and the resistance of the 90’s. After university, I was working in nonprofits and politics (eventually becoming a member of the Youth Commission on Human Rights), and attended more than a few die-ins and protests with ACT Up and the Gay Mens Health Crisis. Yet, I was there as my “job.” I enthusiastically accepted my role as an “ally,” too afraid to be honest with myself, let alone the people in the room. There is a big difference between being an ally in the room as if my career depended on it, and a fighter in the room as if my life depended on it.
While walking in the New York City Pride Parade in my late 20’s, a beautiful man behind the barricade, in a tank top and booty shorts, grabbed and kissed me in front of the entire crowd. I couldn’t decide whether to hold on to his shorts a little longer, or push him away in horror. Instead, I did neither; and later that night returned back to the music. It would be a long 15 years before I kissed another man, falling deeper and deeper into the closet every day.
I came out as queer just before the pandemic, finally able to proud of my own reflection. instead of receiving anger and disappointment from the people closest to me, I felt nothing but love and acceptance.
In honor of Pride Month, I present my Infused Mixtape: The Pride Edition, the songs that comforted me in my quiet shame, as well as the songs that helped me finally accept myself. I hope no one has to listen to these songs because they are afraid of who they are; although we know there are still too many queer folks who are struggling to find their spot in the world. Today, this playlist is a celebration of my growth, and thank you to the artists who wrote these songs that allowed others and I those safe moments. If you are someone that is looking for a space to simply be your truest self, our upcoming Infused event is Saturday, June 25th, one day before the Pride Parade, at a private location somewhere in the city. I will be your Cannabis Culinarian and chef for the evening, and the evening’s theme is Boheme.
I invite you to join us with fellow seekers, vagabonds, and misfits, as we taste and drink and dance on our private rooftop deck. Because at Infused, you will always be safe, celebrated and respected.
You will always be family.
To listen to The Infused Playlist: The Pride Edition on Apple Music, click here.
To listen to The Infused Playlist: The Pride Edition on Spotify, click here.
To learn more about The Infused Supper Club, click here. (use the code “vibehigh” to enter.)