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The Rival's NYC summer stories

health lifestyle


Tulane University


The Rival's NYC summer stories

From hugs to drugs


David Gaidamak

“Do you wanna go to our opening dinner?” The text read.

I invited my friend from high school. We both thought we overdressed for the event, but in the gallery all the women had on cocktail dresses and all the men had on matching suits. This was Mecca by Jackson Shea. On the walls were massive works of art, each of which containing a distinct slice of NYC - a piece of a subway-car-floor, a central park bench, a canvas made from barbed wire, the pictures from the falafel cart.

The table sat in the middle. It was as well dressed as us - a thick white cloth, glasses for wines, and candelabras.

The beautiful people ate takeout Chinese food off the beautiful table. Not pictured is the platter of drugs also on the table - mushrooms, cocaine, and weed. As we talked about the meaning we saw in paint smears we munched mushrooms. As we sat on the central park bench we smoked spliffs. And as we ate, we snorted lines. I took the subway back to Brooklyn - I had a fun trip.

A few weeks later I went to a gallery opening in the Lower East Side. My coworkers and I were the youngest there. They reminisced of a time when openings pushed boundaries: "Remember when John set up a rope swing in this space?" They all laughed as they drank some white wine. "Remember the drugs I brought?" They laughed again and you could see the small group share the memory.

"Too bad none of y'all have been to a Carroll gallery opening"

Check-out the catalog of work here
Follow Jackson Shea @jacksonshea

Fox Kavanagh

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of people claim that men lead significantly easier lives than women; that guys can’t begin to comprehend the oppression that girls face on an everyday basis. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The average male has an ego which rests entirely on one incredibly delicate foundation: his heterosexuality. Should this foundation be challenged even slightly, his identity could be shaken to its very core, leaving him unable to get laid, or even finish a game of beer pong. No longer will this ever-present risk be ignored in lieu of more “politically relevant” issues.

This summer, my friends and I had the pleasure of attending a 4th of July party in Brooklyn. Since the event demanded the occasional social interaction, we were (naturally) incessantly intoxicated. By the time the final firework had marked our imminent departure, my posse had dwindled significantly. Only myself and two old friends -- let’s call them Olly and Clark -- remained. We had a long commute ahead of us, so we took some shots for the road, said our goodbyes, took some more shots for the road, and departed. Soon enough, it was just three drunk bros on a train. But something was amiss.
Olly seemed down, and I suspected it was due to his lack of a female companion. Seeking to express my affection for him, I decided to give him an entirely non-homosexual kiss. But for some reason, I was spurned; he seemed to misinterpret my advances as commentary on his sexuality. I tried again, and I watched as his reluctance turned to fear before my very eyes. Looking back, I hypothesize that he was worried my rugged handsomeness would seduce him in his time of loneliness. But I couldn’t give up, lest he fall back into the hands of despair. We soon ended up in a struggle which captivated the attention of the entire train car.
When Clark finally broke up our skirmish, the train had conveniently stopped right by Olly’s house. With a lewd gesture to me as his only farewell, Olly departed the train, looking pale as a ghost from his near-gay experience. Before I had time to drunkenly analyze our interaction, I heard someone behind me direct a disparaging remark at Olly. I turned around to see two men holding hands, grumbling words of dissatisfaction at his perceived homophobia. In fact, as I looked around, much of the train car seemed to share their sentiment. What I had thought to be a harmless bout of tomfoolery between friends had become pointed social commentary.
That was when I realized the full weight of what I had done. I had thoughtlessly put Olly between a rock and a hard place by giving him an impossible choice; be gay, and sacrifice all traces of masculinity, or be homophobic, and become hated by the public. He had managed to preserve his heterosexuality, but at what cost? There were dozens of people on that train, and each of them was now a burned bridge for Olly. They thought me a hero, but I knew I was just another oppressor, enabled by a corrupt system.
I still lie awake at night, racked with guilt over what I have done. Men will obviously always need to protect their heterosexuality in order to garner value from society. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the better. One day, if we all work together, maybe homophobia can be destigmatized enough to make that impossible choice just a little bit easier.