RECEIVERS Of MEMORY
To know how shit’s worked in the past is to know how it’s probably gonna shape up in the future.
BY THOMAS VALLS
So, I’m just coming out of the age when I’d believed that the experiences in my life had all turned into a coin purse of cache that I was able to quantify my maturity level with. I’ve grown. Now I have a real-world resume of real-world failures that I’ve convinced myself over the years would promisingly add up to any variation of success!
Now, I finally feel as though I’m able to be an adult. I’ve come to accept the fact that these promises, so often serendipitously illuminated before us after we’ve wandered in the dark, have actually connived into existence through understanding the banality of the failures we thought at some point were ours and ours alone. But you keep them. You keep those Promises. There’s always gonna be the need for Promise. Capital P.
It’s unequivocally the one thing we all unanimously hold dearest to us. Promise for our career, our families, our partners and friends, ourselves. It is the idea of Promise that propels us. It is our drive.
But the function of ‘Promise’ isn’t being the vehicle. It’s being its fuel. The older you get, presumably the better you get at buying a car, but even then if you’re sporting Angyline’s Pink Corvette that you got off of eBay, the price of gas is gonna keep getting higher, anyways.
For a Cuban American Gay (#CAG) outta Miami, Florida where his first encounter with a guy into feet was with a supervising podiatrist who worked at the Y, I was scared as shit about dwindling promises. Of expectations I was letting go of myself. I needed fuel.
So. I became a liberated liberal gay man with several centrist values. Los Angeles was to become my smoggy oyster. I was ready to be educated.
Political correctness and the technological evolution of the human species has dampened the affects of what gay bars used to be and mean for our now, now, more matured LGBTQ members. They were places to fuck without judgment. They were places to escape, to hide, to plan for attack. A culture of sexual warriors bleached out and replaced with the misguided naivety of the disaffected Millennial, who on Friday nights openly throws back their libations because they figure there’s a pretty good chance that the Uber driver isn’t gonna kick them out of his Prius, even if all they do is talk about Barb from “Stranger Things.”
When you come to embrace any community, a community that you identify with, one you can see yourself thriving within, you should make it a habit of getting to know the people who’ve been a part of the program long before you were ever even a zygote. They like being asked questions. They think it’s cute that someone thinks they can possibly understand it all. Some of them bar-regulars, some of them making appearances at events because in some way or another they fought to make it happen in the first place. They’re the people who aren’t afraid to stare with genuine curiosity. People who look and always think, ‘seen this before.’ Our brothers and sisters, daddies, mothers, piss-guzzlers, pups—usually the bouncers know their shit too. They’re our literal Receivers of Memory.
These Receivers of Memory hold onto the memories of yesteryear. They carry the weight of the queer community while so many of us continue to dissolve towards finding replacements for what used to be the thrill of a cruise. To know how shit’s worked in the past is to know how it’s probably gonna shape up in the future. To know of the Past to the Present, to be engaged with that in such a capacity that you can construct a path towards whatever it is you figure’s looking promising, that’s when you’ll have the backing of a community. That’s when it all seems real. That’s when we grow up.