Feature image photo by © Marco Bottigelli via Getty Images
Well folks, I made it. Forty hours of podcasts, musical numbers, and ice coffee stops later, and I’ve successfully made the painstaking move from Los Angeles to Orlando, Florida. Why move to Florida when I was having the queer time of my life in LA? Great question. This seemingly sudden move to a new timezone was prompted by quite a few things — most of them having to do with creating a longer term future for myself. While I absolutely thrived in the queer party scene of SoCal, it was time for me to bring my gay energy to a place closer to home.
As an Ohioan, I had an idea of the political and cultural shift I’d be making as I traveled East. The luxury of progressive and diverse LA would no longer be my bubble, so I decided my coping strategy was simply just to acknowledge how gay I am at every stop I make along the way. There’s truly no better way to track mileage and progress over a long period of time than by clocking hot people. Across the four straight days of desert sun, deep Southern hospitality, and Cajun food, I kept a mental diary of all the people I encountered who were attractive — if only so I could kill some time dreaming up an entire U-Haul relationship and divorce all in the span of an hour. Alas, I’d like to dedicate my road trip reflection to all the hot queers I met along the way.
Los Angeles, Friday morning: Before I pack up my car and say my goodbyes, I hop on Instagram one last time to fawn over all those local celesbians I’ve had a crush on and see at literally every gay event but never talk to. It was nice (kinda) knowing you. Sure, I occasionally picture myself making out with a particular someone on the dance floor, but I’m also in a new chapter of my life where routine, early bedtimes, and saving money genuinely sound appealing to me. Au revior LA gays.
Tucson, Friday night/Saturday morning: I happen to know there’s a small biker lesbian-adjacent community here. The year I lived in Tucson was the year I discovered The L Word and, naturally, the year I started to come out. I’m hoping to run into a sporty, desert queer, but unfortunately I do not. To the cute person serving me breakfast the next morning at my hotel: Sorry I didn’t flirt back with you (if you were even flirting at all?).
Las Cruces, Saturday: Part of my car falls off, so I have to stop by a repair shop halfway to my next destination in Texas. This unprecedented stop leads me to a FEMALE MECHANIC who helps me discover my engine cap is indeed falling off. Even though she isn’t really my type, I’m so into the fact that she is the only woman here talking to me about car stuff I ultimately don’t care about.
The middle of nowhere Texas, Saturday night/Sunday morning: I unexpectedly have to pass through border patrol. Even though they’re truly the worst, the one person who asks me if I am a citizen (yikes x 100) is unfortunately very hot. Despite their glowing complexion, I drive away whispering “fuck border patrol” because, fuck border control.
Lafayette, Sunday night/Monday morning: To the waitress who served me my first authentic shrimp ‘n’ grits: You are stunning, and I wish I would’ve at least held a conversation with you. Instead of striking up small talk about the menu or my travels, I sit in the corner hunched in a hoodie mumbling the bare minimum amount of words to get my order across. Even though I look like trash, I’m definitely thinking about flirting with you the entire time.
Florida, Monday evening: I continue to message my secret Hinge crush. I strategically set my location to Orlando a few weeks in advance so I could make some headway on meeting more queer hotties. They send me podcast recs, and I get little butterflies.
Florida, a few days later: While walking around Disney Springs I pass by this extremely hot person carrying Mickey Mouse balloons. For about two seconds, I contemplate dropping the $5+ dollars to buy a balloon off you. Like every other encounter, I chicken out, but I watch you walk away for a good 20 seconds.
Florida, the next week: To the person I hired to come help me set up my Ikea dresser: Damn, the way my hands shook when you knocked on my door with a drill and toolkit! Instead of talking to you about literally anything, I sit in the room over from where you’re working, texting my friends. They playfully suggest I hire you again for something else. I haven’t yet, but maybe I will.
What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is, despite my fears about moving to the South, there are hot, queer people everywhere. And I’m ready to be one of them.