in milan i meet this kid from a war zone who’s fresh out of the closet and trying to figure himself out.  over aperitivo he asks me what i would advice have given my younger self.  it’s unironic—he’s so new to the queer world that he hasn’t seen the countless times mama ru has pulled out the baby photos.

i flash back to the time my best friend and i were living in a storefont gallery in neukölln.  we wore red wigs and made trippy techno videos and fucked strangers for the art project and wrote THIS HAPPENS BETWEEN SEX AND DEATH on the window while we made sense of our cataclysmic breakups.  “how many chances do you think you get to be reckless with your heart?” she asked me.

the last time i thought about that question i was up late in toronto texting real housewives GIFs to a new lover a continent away.  i remembered the letters i used to send to my ex, the cataclysmic one: poems stretched across several postcards that i dropped in different german mailboxes so they’d arrive in vancouver out of order over several days.  

as the kid and i talk, someone sets off fireworks over the navigli.  people whoop and yell but i turn to this kid i’m—what? mentoring?—here, to see if he’s ok.  fireworks mean something different when there’s bombs falling back home.  he says he’s ok. i was just telling him i’d send him an order to binge vintage drag race in.  for the critical cultural references, right?  is this really the time to tell him to lean hard into those moments you can still be reckless with your heart?

days later, the news comes that another gunman in america had opened fire at a queer club in colorado.  it would have hit me harder if it weren’t a smaller-scale replay of the same scene six years ago.  smash cut to david wojnarowicz in 1989: “when i was told i’d contracted this virus it didn’t take me long to realize i’d contracted a diseased society as well.” 

most of the queer theory that’s stuck with me centres around either utopianism or grief—eros and thanatos if you nasty. maybe the experience of contemporary queerness is a st vitus dance between the two, a great gay disco with no last call, floating on the the current between scylla and charybdis, or downriver through a war-ravaged city.  no matter how many continents they play the snatch game on, queerness is still, ipso facto, a reckless act of the heart, reaching out across the dancefloor for sex, for intimacy, a body to hold, in spite of the governments, killers, and viruses that have you in their crosshairs.  billy-ray belcourt writes “fucking won’t rescue me from my longing” but two weeks ago in a museum in rome i met eros’ little brother pothos, the fiiiine af god of longing for an absent lover.  and girl the piping hot tea is that is the gayest shit i’ve heard.