the gay awakening (n): a time-honored tradition of existential anxiety and homogay panic at the onset of more-than-friendly feelings for a same-sex person intimately involved in one’s life.
This playlist is composed of 26 songs, only a couple of which are specifically about queer feelings (*cough* David Cassidy *cough*). However, playlists – as with so many things in life – are really about intent. And the intent of these songs is to evoke the stages of gay awakening that many of us go through or can identify with to some degree. Even if your parents are Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, even if they are gaymos themselves, your inner dialogue might run something like this for the next several days/weeks/months/hopefully not years because this mix will get repetitive quickly.
So, examine the anatomy of a gay awakening. Let it marinate. And then make a new playlist that doesn’t include any Eisley because that would be against the rules.
OMG we’re totally going to get a flat in London and have tons of cats and send joint Christmas cards and grow old together like best friends but definitely not like your lezzie aunt and her “life partner.”
1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice–The Beach Boys
This represents the beginning of the first phase of your not-quite-gay-yet relationship. Likely, you spend all of your time with one girl and 15 minutes without a text message feels like 15 years, particularly if you are, yourself, 15. It’s a time of innocence and simplicity and holding hands and forehead kisses. Maybe you refer to yourselves as sisters or best friends or platonic soulmates. You probably talk about being old maids together as you stroke her hair while she falls asleep.
Mostly, you think it will be so nice when you’re older and can do whatever you want together which, although you don’t know it yet, includes fucking.
There’s this thing that happens when two people are mutually attracted to one another but completely unable to formulate the words necessary to communicate that attraction. That thing usually involves irrational anger which presents itself as fighting over things like spending time with other people/delayed text responses/pretend concern over “co-dependency”/etc. However, these miniature blowups caused by latent sexual frustration are often resolved by more forehead kisses which, at the moment, substitute for boning.
I really wanna be your friend forever, friends forever
3. I Think I Love You–David Cassidy
Yeah, something is definitely knocking at your brain at this point, probably keeping you up at night with an uncomfortable tingling in your lower half in relation to your friend’s eyes or elbows or earlobes etc. Potentially, you wake up from dreams thinking, “Shit, I think I love my best friend and I have an irrational desire to punch her boyfriend in the face repeatedly.”
I just decided to myself, I’d hide it to myself…I think I love you so what am I so afraid of? A love that I’m unsure of, a love that there’s no cure for…it worries me to say that I’ve never felt this way
Clearly, CLEARLY, David Cassidy had a gay crush when he wrote this song as literally every single lyric applies directly to a gay awakening.
This song is actually a 3-minute gay panic attack.
4. Can You Tell–Ra Ra Riot
Things are getting bad. They’re getting bad in a really, really ecstatic sort of way where every single thought you have is about your best friend and none of those thoughts are particularly platonic or sisterly anymore…You’re in full-out gay love and you’re trying to convince yourself to play it cool but at the same time you’re really hoping your BFF notices and says something so you don’t have to.
Oh have I been too discrete? How long am I supposed to wait? I think about you nightly. Oh can you tell I’m losing sleep? Oh what am I supposed to do? It’s hard to stay cool. Oh when you smile at me and I get nervous every time you start to speak. My bed’s too big for just me…
The first kiss that does not include the forehead, the chin, the cheek, the corner of the mouth, or the adorable dip between her nose and her top lip.
5. Hands Down–Dashboard Confessional
Something’s going to happen; someone’s going to make a move because the tension has reached a literally unbearable high. You guys are doing fine, you’re doing nothing at all but still…
My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me. So won’t you kill me? So I die happy. My heart is yours to fill or burst, to break or bury, or wear as jewelery, whichever you prefer.
And then it HAPPENS and it’s actually an explosion and probs you’ve never kissed anyone like that before, no matter how little or how often you’ve kissed. So, you know, you’re kissing behind locked doors and slipping your hand under her shirt and making tiny markings in that place where her neck and shoulders meet, completely unsure what this kissing means or why you want to keep traveling down her neck or why it seems so imperative to bury yourself around her midsection and stay there until someone physically removes you.
The Calm (otherwise known as that place in the middle of a hurricane)
6. Brightly Wound–Eisley
For all of the sadnesses, there are so many tiny treasures in the gay awakening. You’re in love, even if you don’t want to be and every day is a new day of new reasons for being in love. You love how soft she is; you love the slightly breathless sounds she makes; you love the way she fits into you or the way you fit under her shoulder, turned against her breast; you love that every part of loving her is different than loving anyone before her. Being presented with a hundred thousand reasons to love someone is always so beautiful, even when it’s terrifying.
I shall never grow up, make-believe is much too fun. Can we go far away, to the humming meadow? This place is so lovely; it kind of makes me very happy.
7. Glass Vase Cello Case–Tattle Tale
There’s this movie that you should probably see at some point in your gay awakening and that movie is But I’m a Cheerleader. There are a lot of reasons to see this bizarre little film, including (but not limited to) RuPaul, Clea DuVall, that kid who played Sunshine in Remember the Titans, and a completely blue/pink color palette. However, possibly the most relevant reason for you, at this point in your cycle, is the scene accompanied by this song:
It’s basically the softest, sweetest, most tender representation I’ve yet to see of two girls nervously searching each other’s bodies for something they haven’t found with anyone else.
Are you still … still breathing?
8. Of Angels and Angles–The Decemberists
Every day now is a slow progression toward some previously unimaginable happiness. There’s a swallow, there’s a calm; here’s a hand to lay on your open palm today. You are in this quiet place where the best parts of your day are the parts where you are curled into the body of your lover, just breathing and counting her breaths. Maybe it can’t go on like this forever. At some point, because the world is impossible this way, you’ll have to talk and use “real” words that people have attached these strange values to: gay, lesbian, bi, straight. But for now, things are better when they’re quieter, with less words and more kissing. Things are always so much better with a higher kissing:words ratio.
There are angels in your angles / There’s a low moon caught in your tangles / And darling, we go a-drowning/down we go away
9. Be Be Your Love–Rachel Yamagata
Maybe you listen to this song and it fills you with a kind of pride or a sort of fight or a feeling of stubborn resolve. You know everything won’t be alright because it can’t be completely alright but it’s absolutely worth it anyway. The sadness is creeping into your days now; it’s there in the strings of this song but, presently, you keep trying to imagine this song as a kind of triumph instead. You make this song, as with so many others, what you need it to be in this moment. Eventually, probably, you’ll hum it to yourself before you face your parents or your friends or your employer or someone else demanding an answer to a question they’ve carelessly thrown out, not realizing you’ve spent months/maybe years asking yourself.
10. Just Like We Do–Eisley
There’s kind of an Eisley song for every phase of the gay awakening cycle. This one is particularly apt for lying naked in bed in the morning and memorizing every detail, every curve of the miraculous woman lying still next to you and trying to remind yourself that there are people who love each other just like you do.
Next:“the stage where only an all-encompassing Bjork song can possibly describe the sheer improbability of love and loving.”