No Mistakes

by Ashley Koszarek (a UT Second Year)


I like that word–

How it sounds, tastes, feels

I’m familiar with how it feels. 

I am a woman.

In experience alone, but at heart?

Not at all.

Not one bit. 

No, my insides are elusive. 

Full of life, full of love, full of mystery. 

A cypher unto myself, 

All I can decode is how I feel. 

Masculine energy with valleys and curves,

A feminine form with edges and nerves. 

I am nothing. 

But the universe tells me I am everything. 

Poured out like wax, and melted within me.

Poured out like wax, and melted within me. 

Poured out like wax, and melted within me. 

My heart retains its shape. 

No mistakes, 

No mistakes. 

For the White Gays

by a UT Second Year

I went on a date recently, and all I can think about is myself. Relationships stress me out. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship. I find it stressful. Romantic relationships, in particular, are scary things. I’m genderqueer, but most people perceive me as an especially feminine guy. I’m not sure if that’s totally accurate or not. That’s scary. How do I explain my identity to someone when I don’t fully understand it myself? And Lord knows what they’re projecting onto me. Most people think femme guys are submissive people*. Beyond my perceived sexual preferences people talk about my body a lot. The popular choice is how skinny I am. I guess they mean it as a compliment because being a larger size is still stigmatized, but as a person who occupies masculine spaces, being thinner isn’t viewed favorably either. I’m perceived as weak, not as attractive as someone with muscles, or told I look weird because my limbs look long.

I’ve tried working out and between the time commitment and maybe my genetics I don’t really look different. I feel a little better because I’m doing something to try and meet part of the beauty standard set for me. I’ve also went the other way and tried not eating. Maybe I could pull off the wraith-like runway look? I don’t do either now. I do see how many fingers wide my thigh gap is, just in case I’m putting on weight. I do feel guilty when I eat anything that isn’t a fruit or vegetable, but I don’t cry about it anymore or stare in the mirror thinking about how I could look different. Things are ok, not good, not terrible.

Why would I share this? It’s beyond personal. It’s a piece of who I am right now. I want to share it to bring home my critique of my fellow queers. I’m scared to date you all because you’ve made me afraid of myself. @thewhitegays you’re shallow, racist, and think your queerness negates your privileges.

To twist around Judge Judy’s and Bianca Del Rio’s iconic line: Beauty fades, your shitty humanity is forever.

*  I had a guy cancel a date at the restaurant when he found out I wore makeup.


by Anonymous       

 Sometimes I feel I have incredibly bad luck with my romantic pursuits. I’m not particularly handsome, but I feel by no means ugly. I’m pretty much average weight and average height. One day, however, I felt that perhaps fortune was smiling upon me, as I had a date at a coffee shop. I had met this girl named Sam on Tinder about a week ago and just recently worked up the courage to ask her if she wanted to go get coffee. It had been nearly a year since I had any romantic experiences, so I was feeling pretty darn nervous. Anxiety is something I rarely feel, so this anxiety was all that much more crushing.

 I had to drive to go pick her up because she didn’t have a car. She gave me the address to a driving school, so I assumed that she was taking lessons which explained the transportation issue. I had to GPS it since I was still new to Knoxville at the time. I parked in the parking lot and went ahead and texted her that I was there. I waited for about 5 minutes in the parking lot collecting myself before I saw her exit out of the building simply named “Medical Tests Now!” that neighbored the driving school. She wore a yellow flower dress that seemed to conflict with her green dyed hair that was half shaved and half a bob-cut. She had various piercings scattered among her lips, ears, and nose. I was surprised that she looked even better than the pictures she had on her account.

She got into the car and we greeted each other. I started the conversation by asking why she was at a medical testing center. I was very much hoping that she wouldn’t say she was getting tested for sexual diseases. Instead she replied she was there for a drug test as she was on parole. This answer was not much better. I hesitantly asked what she was on parole for, hoping she wouldn’t be offended. Sam replied that she was pulled over by a cop for speeding and they found her with a bag of Adderall. They pressed charges for intention to deal, but she said that was not the case. She simply put some in a bag to store in her car when she forgot to take it at home. This was also the reason why she was not driving as she got her license suspended. At this moment I could not decide whether this girl had a stream of bad luck or she was actually problematic. Regardless, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt because I did not want to ruin this first date after such a long hiatus.

 She and I had casual conversation about our shared interests as we drove to the coffee shop until she asked me how often I smoked weed. I promptly said I didn’t. She seemed surprised and apologized. She said she thought I said so in a prior conversation. This kind of worried me as I hoped something like not doing drugs was not an immediate turn-off. We continued the small talk until they reached the coffee shop. It was a small store with a generic green and white look at the end of a row of other shops and restaurants. We went into the dimly lit coffee shop and up to the counter. I ordered a mocha and then turned to Sam to ask what she wanted. She said almost surprisingly, “Oh, you’re paying?”

 “Yes?” I said questioningly

 This worried me as I thought it was already unfortunately established that the man pays for stuff on dates. I started to worry that perhaps she didn’t think of this as a date. “Nonsense!” I thought, “Why wouldn’t she think it’s a date? We discussed this meeting on a dating app!” Even though this was logically sound to me, I still irrationally had fear in my stomach. Perhaps not smoking weed was actually a deal breaker and she had changed her mind about everything? She asked for an Americano and I paid for the drinks and made sure to tip, having a fear of what she would think about me if he didn’t. I always make sure to tip as I once had a similar job, so it was odd for me to think this way.

 I found a pair of black wooden chairs and sat down as Sam went to this restroom. I began to slightly panic as I had started to remember the many stories I’ve read where the girl would sneak out of a date by asking to go to the restroom and then proceed to escape. This fear stayed with me as my eyes bounced around the room glancing at oddly placed plants and paintings that looked like they came out of a shutdown hotel. She eventually returned and I restarted the conversation by asking her what kind of job she had. She said she was in-between jobs right now and was living with a friend. She apparently also dropped out of college. Her intended major was psychology and she wanted to be a therapist, which coincidentally was similar to what I wanted to be. I was ecstatic to have made such a connection! I told her so and she brushed it off with an “Oh, that’s cool.” I was hit with the realization that perhaps she may now resent me for being on the path what she dropped off of. I quickly tried to recover by asking what she does for fun. Sam said she usually bar hopped with friends and started telling stories about all her wild adventures doing acid and drinking. She reciprocated the question and I talked about how I played card games, cooked with friends, and studied Japanese. She said she also played card games but her reaction to everything else was about subpar.

 Our order got called and I went and brought the coffees over to the table. I asked her if Americano was what she normally got and she said it was either that or plain dark coffee. She said she didn’t like any of that “frilly shit.” I responded with “Ah, I see” as I sipped on my mocha wondering if she considered it “frilly shit.” I didn’t bother asking.

 We then talked about current events until the coffee was all gone and we proceeded to get up and leave. We went to my car and she gave me the address of her place so I could drop her off. During the drive back, I found out we had a similar love for cats and we talked about cats for the entirety of the drive back to her place. We pulled up to what turned out to be an average looking apartment. I was expecting something cheaper, but this was a pleasant surprise. She gave a cheerful sounding “Let’s hang again sometime!” as she stepped out and I replied with an equally ecstatic, “sure!”

 I was kind of surprised by what she said. I had my doubts during the entire date that anything else would come out of it. I felt like they had a lot of shared interests in movies, music, and food. But maybe our two lifestyles were too drastically different? Perhaps she was looking to change her life from a wild one to something calmer? Regardless, I thought she was quite cute and was fine with seeing how things would turn out after future dates. Once I got home, I messaged her asking if she wanted to grab dinner sometime. She never responded.

 I hoped that she was just too busy to respond after the date. This was clearly not the case after a week. I even hesitantly did a follow up text in case she forgot to respond. I never received an answer. I wondered what I did wrong as I felt lonelier inside. After a while I came to terms that perhaps it was just not a good match. Despite this, the entire event still had a lasting impact on me. Failure was not something foreign to me, but it still hit my self-esteem pretty hard this time around. I quit Tinder as I had been using it for around 2 months without any success besides that one date. I decided that perhaps it would be best to just wait from this point on and just hope I meet someone from a real life interaction.

 I did end up downloading Tinder again about 6ish months later and lo’ and behold, I see Sam again. This time her profile had a new sentence in it. It read “Must be 420 friendly!” I went “huh” in a moment of realization. Who knew that the true deal breaker was indeed the fact I didn’t smoke weed. That made me feel a bit better that day.