Quantum Polynomial Unicorn Sparkles

“I’ve been tryna give it to you all night
What’s it gonna take to get you all alone?
I just want you here by my side
I don’t wanna be here, baby, on my own”

– Kim Petras, “Alone”

Last night, I went to the Kim Petras “Feed The Beast” show at the Fillmore Auditorium on Colfax in the heart of Denver’s gay district. Probably 75% of the audience were very cute gay men, and the other 25% were a mix of cis women, trans women, drag queens in full regalia, and a couple trans guys.

I always feel like a space alien at these types of events. I spent the vast majority of my life pointedly avoiding anything that was remotely queer-coded. I was afraid of the community for the same reason I was afraid of putting on women’s clothes or doing my makeup or painting my nails: Because it felt like an indulgence. A permission-granting exercise from which there would be no coming back. I suspect that same fear is a large part of what keeps so many others closeted, and doesn’t allow many queer-spectrum people to explore parts of their own identities and sexualities.

That room was full of joy and queerness. Acceptance and love and passion and gaiety. Singing, dancing, grinding, kissing, hugging, sweating, waving fans at each other, sharing drinks and vapes and selfies. Shouting along at the top of our collective lungs, hands in the air:

“King of hearts
You gon’ keep on playin’ ’til you go too far
No one in the world could ever be enough for your love
Baby, you keep on playin’, oh, baby, c’mon, ah, ah”

I try to make smalltalk with the kids standing in line behind me in the cold, waiting to get in before the show. I’m probably 25 years older than them. My makeup artist had to cancel my session so I did my own makeup, which I’m terrible at. They all have immaculate drag makeup on. After eight straight hours of zoom meetings at work, I barely had energy for mascara, rainbow metallic lipstick and blue glittery sparkle tears that I put on with my finger in the car, parked on Downing and 14th. We’re talking about what everyone went as for halloween, and I show them my Troye Sivan costume. One of the guys says, “Ooooh cute! Masc for masc” and my heart tries to break for a half second.

Girl, please. I’m in a form-fitting zip-up jumpsuit with my tits out. Yeah I’m not as effeminate as 80% of the boys here, but I’m still undoing decades of suppression and trauma. Anyways, I was cute too.

In the moments between smalltalk and songs, I hit my vape and think about why I have a hard time talking to people. It’s the shame. And the my brain is full of thoughts about OAuth and SAML, the threat that quantum computing poses to traditional cryptosystems, and how to anchor trust in a massively distributed world. Five percent is taken up by knowledge of fashion, hair, makeup and miscellaneous other of life’s most important concerns. So I observe.

I look at how people greet each other, eyes wide, arms offered forward in an invitation to embrace. Couples kissing. Groups exchanging deets. Facial expressions and body language that I can’t even imagine how I would start to make my muscles try to replicate. Hands in my pockets. Look at phone, hit vape, open snapchat and take selfie.

Think about how I’m 25 years older than everyone else.

Get asked by a sweet queen if I’m going to Charlie’s afterwards, I say yes, he says he’ll buy me a drink. I’m his favorite person because I let him hit my vape.

I walk back to my car alone. I don’t have the energy for Charlie’s.

But let me tell you, what I discovered in that room is that everyone has an inner unicorn. Life is better with glitter and sparkles. We all only have one life, so be gay. Do crimes. Grind on the dancefloor. Some day I’ll go to Charlie’s.

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