Entries in the Urban Dictionary for “homelessexual” have left me out in the cold. It’s time to create a definition that I can live with.
My adventures as a homelessexual began 10 years ago at an L-train station in Manhattan. After a night of dick-hunting through the emerald glass of one Rolling Rock beer bottle after another, I aimed for the turnstiles, dreaming of my lavish rat’s nest in the Bronx. But probing my pocket, I found no MetroCard and no money.
Many homelessexuals, it would seem, have homes but can’t get to them.
So I sprawled on a thatch of garbage bags and nodded off. When that got too cold and unglamourous — fall was nippy — I huddled at the subway entrance under a newspaper duvet. Men cruised me idiotically. “What are you doing outside? It’s freezing!” In the morning, I was able to hawk a mangled pack of menthol cigarettes for subway fare home.
“Home,” at the time, was a place where housemates stole my food on a daily basis, working around the mousetraps I had set in the fridge.
But what about you, living in the Vancouver International Airport, washing your undies in the bathroom sink, toting a piece of luggage to escape detection? You forget how home cooking, unlike Taco Bell, doesn’t Scotchguard your tongue with sodium nitrate and formaldehyde.
If you’re a queer youth living on the street, then family rejection, violence and indifference have likely been bigger problems for you than lack of transit fare. It takes time to recover from addiction, to hunt down necessities and to find friends who won’t steal your shit. Precious time that you’d probably rather invest in looking for work and a stable mailing address.
Thing is, some folks reshape this hardship into a street-punk fantasy that unlocks their best orgasms.
Maybe it’s the vulnerability, or the flashes of gonch and ass crack that come with an eroded sense of privacy. It could even be a feral attraction to BO and facial scruff. Have they no empathy, or is it the empathy that drives them wild?
Kinks aside, we need to mobilize community help for the homeless. Offering rotten Granny Smith apples, I’ve learned, is not the way, so let’s brainstorm better strategies.
Being a homelessexual can mean feeling out of place.
“San Jose sucked!” singer Antony Hegarty screamed to thrilled fans at the Antony and the Johnsons show just after Valentine’s Day in Toronto, stopping midway through a queer classic to tell us why, when he lived there as a teen, the city had been no home to him. He ranted about having to ask his “stupid fucking boyfriend” to hit him—just to experience any form of tenderness at all. “I was one of those 18-year-olds who was like a Sphinx—just lost…I was also really exhausted because my parents were getting a divorce.”
No, Antony wasn’t homeless—he was never even there.
We’re getting closer to a new definition. I can feel it.
On November 2, 2007, my apartment building caught fire while my lover was asleep in it. Categorically, it was the best day of my life.
He escaped, you see, holding our squirming cat. When building inspectors granted us only a few hours the following day to salvage what was left, a SWAT team of loving friends shuttled our things to safety and gave us shelter for 6 weeks. During that time, there was no way we could call ourselves ‘homeless.’
Let’s look at things differently. You might live in a mansion but have shredded roots or no community grounding. Life can challenge your definition of the word ‘home’ in the wonkiest ways. Backstage after the show, Antony announced his perpetual displacement: “We have to drive to Letterman at 4 o’clock in the morning.”
How can you help? Share your bent with other homelessexuals by bending a listening ear. Ask for their stories, and take no notes. Spread the good news that the judges at Sleepinginairports.net have bestowed a 2008 Regional Golden Pillow Award on the San Francisco International Airport!
San Jose, no surprise, didn’t make the top 10.
Other ideas: get craft-happy with scissors and glue, and make a dozen laminated information cards that list shelters, soup kitchens, food banks, clothing depots, walk-in health clinics and outreach centres — and hand them out to those who need them. Remember to include art openings, for loads of free camembert — and wine, too! Don’t forget to keep a card for yourself. Just in case.
And if you’re squeezed for places to sleep in Montreal tonight, look me up. I’ll let you into the basement of my building, where it’s clean, warm and dry, and I’ll bring you a yogourt container of miso soup.
a person who realizes that nobody belongs anywhere, that we will always find a place to crash, and that, no matter what, we all need to snuggle closer.”
Should I file this in the Urban Dictionary as entry number 5, or would you like to tweak it first?