Playlist: Queer Summer Suburban Ennui

There comes a time in many twenty-somethings’ lives when we pack up our belongings and cats from the apartment we turned into our own little sanctuary and move back in with our parents, even if it’s only for a summer. Moving back home has reminded me of how much of a drag the suburbs are. I went to college in a small city with amazing public transportation, a small, but thriving queer community, and sidewalks. Back at home, there are no buses, no trains, no sidewalks (???!??!!), and worst of all, it feels like I am the only queer in the entire universe.

Like yesterday when I tried to take a smoke break on my back porch but ended up having a conversation with Rocco, my 80-year-old Italian neighbor, about his summer produce for 45 minutes. Or when I found out that almost all of my friends from high school have moved back and are all either engaged or married and pregnant. Or, last week when I participated in one of the most exciting activities at home to date — grocery shopping with mom — and was the only person in a crop top! In 2016! In the summer! Where am I?

This playlist encompasses all of the feelings I have being a car-less twenty-five year old in suburbia for the summer: gay, lonely, bored, and confused by my neighbors’ dedications to their lawns. It’s for listless days on the deck eating mangos your mom paid for and being disappointed once again while you browse dating apps. It can also act as an hour-and-a-half dance party for days when you think hitting up a high school contact for a quick hook-up might be worth it. (It’s never worth it. There are other better ways to stay cool for the summer.)

Welcome to My Life—Simple Plan
You Don’t Own Me—Leslie Gore
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa—Vampire Weekend
Binary Mind—Ra-Ra Riot
We are Never Ever Getting Back Together—Taylor Swift
Cool for the Summer—Demi Lovato
Boyfriend—Tegan and Sara
Vacation—The Go-Go’s
Boy Problems—Carly Rae Jepsen
Golden Coast—Allison Weiss
Misery Business—Paramore
In the Sun—She & Him
Spectacular Failure—Lake Street Dive
Stacy’s Mom—Fountains of Wayne
You Don’t Know Me—Ben Folds
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun—Cyndi Lauper
Dream a Little Dream of Me—The Mamas and the Papas
Mainstream Kid—Brandi Carlile
Wasted Hours—Arcade Fire
Ocean Avenue—Yellowcard
Back Down South—Kings of Leon
Cruel Summer—Bananarama
Lake Song—Decemberists
Rivers and Roads—The Head and the Heart

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. truer & funnier words never written. whenever i open tinder at my parent’s house it just goes “searching searching searching–no new people in your area–searching searching searching…” every day.

  2. I feel you! This sounds like my everyday life. The only queer in a rural village with more animals than humans. Cycling to work. Crossing fields of corn. Although I must say that the summer is the only time I can escape. Countdown to the end of the school year :D

  3. My favorite part is when Alaina holds an impromptu concert in her front yard for all the cats in her gayborhood. They meowed to every song.??????

  4. Ah Stacy’s Mom.
    I had my first “is this a crush or am I just in awe of this woman and wish to be as awe worthy” thing on a fellow girl scout’s mom.
    And it has taken me 13 years to realise holy shit my fellow girl scout’s name actually rhymed with Stacy. Whaaaaaat.

      • Oh god ambient saw noises.
        That’ll never cease to amuse me cause it’s the vibrations that do the lulling not the sound of the power tool.

        Joan Jett is def better.

        • I just had a strange thought. With all the talk of saw noises and now vibrations, I have a million dollar idea. Ambient Saw Noise Vibrators! There will be an option to have no saw noises. I would probably slap on a warning label due to increase chance of heart attack.

  5. SO MANY TRUTHS & GOOD SONGS ON THIS LIST!! I looooove Rivers and Roads, but alsoooo Misery Buisness and Ocean Ave! And STACY’S MOM!! Gurl my lawn looks a mess and I couldn’t care less! Immuna let this playlist ride me out to autumn.

  6. This speaks to me on a spiritual level

    In Portland I look like a Bible seller but in Northern Virginia Iam the only one pairing docs with bike shorts with jean jacket vests

    So many Polo shirts! So much Khaki! I’m surrounded by Agressively Normal Heterosexual People with Costco memberships and 4+ children, and they bring their kids to trivia night at the bar (???!!)

    • Michou, if you don’t mind, this was just screaming to be turned into verse. (Blame Erin and her haikus). I present to you, your own words:

      “Costco Membership”

      In Portland
      I look like a Bible seller but
      in Northern Virginia I am the only one
      pairing docs
      with bike shorts
      with jean jacket vests.

      So many Polo Shirts!
      So much Khaki!

      I’m surrounded by
      with Costco memberships
      and 4+ children

      and they bring their kids to trivia night
      at the BAR.

  7. Pals, tech support needed. I just got Spotify. When I search for Autostraddle I don’t see this among their playlists. What should I do?

  8. Wow I’m extremely grateful to no longer be a lonely gay in the suburbs but also this is a bangin playlist and I’m gonna listen to it even though I live in Toronto now and I am never far from dozens of queers in crop tops

  9. I feel a deep and abiding love, both towards this playlist and you Alaina. Keep rocking the suburbs.

  10. Oh sugar pie do we need to come rescue you under the cloak of night and take you across state lines to a good gay bar?! Ps. A Simple Plan, yes, always.

    • yes i can always use saving.
      p.s. nothing makes me feel the pain of adolescence quite like simple plan.

  11. I so needed this in my life.
    Also applicable to being back in your tiny Canadian hometown.

  12. Wow this is too true. I’ve been feeling like the only 25 year old car-less queer stuck in the suburbs. Thank you.

  13. This speaks to me so much. I’m stuck at my mom’s house in the suburbs for the summer, I have like 2 friends in the wider area and my mom is moving to a town where I will know 0 people. And I totally second the awkwardness of being the only person in a crop top in the grocery store! I can’t wait to get back home to my roommates and their pets and the ability to get somewhere interesting without maneuvering a car through NoVa traffic (or, as the case may be, begging someone, usually my mother, to do that for me). Until then, I guess I’ll be listening to this playlist a lot

  14. I have never felt more connected to a playlist. This is my entire life. Honestly though, I’m so glad we have the internet and safe spaces like this that we at least know that other people feel the same. Thanks for the awesome content.

  15. Yes! This is also my life right now. Even the mango on the back deck. And the army of people from my past that are married/pregnant and living here. What is with the lawn preoccupation? Also the phenomenon of the tv being on, always, in every household? It all feels so alien.

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