There's Got to Be More to This: A rlyblonde Guest Blog

by - June 06, 2024

Photo courtesy of Caroline Safran

Hi gay!

It's funny really to be here now, reflecting on Pride Month. As a wee 17-year-old, I started at Emerson College, named one of the most LGBTQ-friendly schools in the country. The school-wide catchphrase, "gay by May", alluded to all the straight students that arrived freshman year. If you weren't out of the closet when you arrived, likely you would be by the end of the first two semesters. Ironically, I boo-ed up with a VMA (Visual & Media Arts) boyfriend by December, held onto him for four years and graduated having done very little investigation regarding my sexuality aside from being a fierce ally to all my queer friends.

I'm not sure what to attribute my late-blooming queer discovery to, given it took me all until the age of 26 to figure it out. I didn't grow up in a particularly strait-laced or uber-religious household. My high school and college were both quite welcoming, if not celebratory of queer students. Still, I'd always attracted a friend group that was somewhat off the beaten path, i.e. artists, queer folks, outcasts. I attributed it to my vast welcoming of the human experience or my super-sized sense of empathy developed as an eldest daughter, but nothing more. Maybe we can chalk the whole thing up to compulsory heterosexuality. But it took about four earth-shattering break-ups with cis men to finally shake me loose.

It came in small moments - flirty conversation with a girl at a bar to avoid hovering men, losing my words during an encounter with my hot androgynous neighbor in the stairwell. It also came in louder moments, including having the same Spotify wrapped as all my gay friends (cue that one TikTok sound, "You're Gay! You're Gay! You're one of them queers... You're Girlypop"), and humorously looking out to a sea of lesbians at the MUNA concert while I also bawled my eyes out.

Coming out as queer and deciding to pursue music came to me hand-in-hand at a time in my life where I felt at once very lost, and yet never more sure of what I really wanted. It's like something broke and shattered my perspective of myself. None of this was enough anymore - the career I had built, the art I was making, the love I was receiving. I thought, ‘there's got to be more to this.’ I stayed celibate for a year, unintentionally, while I hermit-ed away in my apartment; daydreaming about a different life for myself and plotting ways to make it real. I journaled, practiced my guitar, did my tarot cards. I went to "queer" shows and felt at home. I went to "straight" shows and felt uncomfortable. I reflected on years of discomfort. I wrote songs with female pronouns and confided in queer friends I trusted, who confirmed for me, "obviously you're a switch Carina, duh."

My first EP, Fantasy, was the result of this very solitary period of my life - figuring out who I was, what I wanted and what it would take to get there. Being able to create a world for myself through music that was safe, accepting and expansive allowed me the space to explore myself and be whoever I wanted to be, without judgment or worrying about the outcome. It's hard to imagine what my queer awakening would've been if I hadn't discovered the outlet of songwriting at the same time. To me, they go hand-in-hand. It also doesn't shock me that so many queer folks are artists or lean towards creative methods of self-expression. Because to be queer is to be constantly questioning what you're told, to dig within yourself to find your own answers and to create a safe space for you and your community to exist.

Music has on so many occasions been that space of solace and discovery for me, whether it's writing alone in my room or in a sweaty crowd at a show. That's something I'll never take for granted, and that's a lot of what keeps me doing this. Going to a 16+ show and seeing two girls with big black Xs on their hands making out, seeing fans throw pride flags on stage and the artist stopping to wave them around, seeing queer folks have places to sing, dance and be celebrated... that's what keeps me doing this.

So for anyone else on their queer journey: I commend you, wish you well on your exploring and want to remind you that it's never too late! And when you're ready, I can't wait to find you out in the crowd.

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