Dating in Bushwick, you quickly realize that sometimes the competition is wildly out of your league. If you thought you were the pretty new thing somewhere else, here you are one of a thousand flavors and everyone feels comfortable saying just what they’re looking for. Of course, you too can voice your tastes, but trans people are less likely to get dates in the first place. It’s hardly a fair fight.
That said, we all hope for a connection on some level. But often dating just reveals where the canyons between us really lie—money, personality, sexuality. Dating in Bushwick is part of this culture, and I want to examine what makes Bushwick its own melting pot for queer dating. So, I set to work and did the grind of meeting a guy a week (or so) for a drink (or three), Netflix, or food in a variety of Bushwick hotspots.
Think of me as a positive, optimistic gay Carrie Bradshaw about my prospects.
The newest boy asks me to June Bar. I accept, having been when they were showing “Freaks and Geeks,” and they made me a cheap and delicious cosmopolitan. However, as our date-time approaches, he asks me if I want to go to a party with him. I, naïve and new, accept, picturing a grand warehouse with disco kids and glow sticks and terrible house music.
I arrive at his apartment a few minutes later. He splits to the basement with his best friend, both are trashed by the time I get there. I sip some of the rosé I was gifted by my roommate and maintain conversation and try to act like a free bohemian. My conversation partners immediately get down to the dirt—both went to a fancy liberal arts college that I applied to but couldn’t afford. They find this amusing. They seem ready to drift through the night and disavow any consequences.
We wait for another of their cohort to arrive and then start walking down Greene Avenue past Myrtle-Wycoff to the apartment of another east coast liberal arts kid. We pass a funeral home and the boy laughs at the dark humor of it. I wince, but we keep going. We stop for dollar pizza, and I scurry to finish it as they are antsy to get to the party. On our last leg of the journey the boy asks me what my biggest fear is. Not knowing him well, and not being one to divulge such information randomly, I say “rent.” He scoffs and says that’s not a good enough answer.
We make it to the party, after having been ignored half of the walk, I’m ready to unwind and start working on finishing my bottle of rosé. The boy disappears again, leaving me to fend for myself.
I begin making small talk with one of his friends, who then dumps me on another friend. This girl is hogging the air conditioning, so I grab a chair and sit next to her by the window unit. We talk about the pretentiousness of the boys. They all love Mac Demarco and probably shop at Trader Joe’s exclusively. She tells me the boy’s a bad egg and is probably off doing heavy drugs. I heed her advice, and decide to end the date before it really begins. The girl and I go to Boobie Trap to drink tequila. Feeling pleasant, I walk home in the summer night feeling like I made a friend.
Of course, we never got together. She was probably also from the class of wispy art students who come as tourists and move onto other things in New York or back to their rich manors in Connecticut or Vermont. I try and think about how I can be a part of the community in a different way. Not as a ghost who would prefer to be somewhere else. I can’t say I am immune to the feeling, but it’s exhausting to witness.
I like Bushwick. I like its bodegas, cats, neighbors who buzz you in if you forget your keys, and the Mayday sign that says Jesus thinks you’re fabulous. These are different environments for many of us college students flooding Bushwick post-graduation. But we can’t run from those feelings nor ignore that we are in a space that is historically not ours to frolic in like a playground. We must be intentional, conscious consumers and neighbors.
While on the roof with another date, they asked me how it was to be in a place where so many people are just transitory—here for school or internships—and I don’t think I have an answer yet. Other than that I don’t want to be like that, even though I know it will change the way I relate to those I date in the future and force me to work harder to be a better neighbor myself.