Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

10 Places to Perform Queer Longing After Your Situationship Moves Onto the Next Artsy Gay Pennsylvanian


Photo of Daniel Scanlon by Spencer Schwartz

But I'm never gonna give up

Though I'm probably gonna think about you all the time

And for the lovers who found a mirrored heart

They just remind me I'm without you

I just found out that no one dies from love? This discovery has me shocked and upset to say the least. 

"My yearning is tied to my resilience."

That statement kinda feels like a consolation prize at this point. Awakening my mind to the transformative power of love has revealed itself as the closest thing to a modern-day lobotomy I can think of, or at least that’s how it feels when I traverse the red-and-blue Disneyland known as the University of Pennsylvania. Come to our very gay event! We’re making necklaces. You better bring a date to this late night! Oh, you're not bringing one? You’re gonna bring your friend? That’s fine. But you know, it’d be really slay of you to scheme up someone for the formal next month. You should get on that. No, I don't feel the same profound spiritual emptiness that you confide in me. 

And next year, it’ll be clear, this was only leading me to that. 

Longing is more poignant for queer people. We’re making up for lost time. There’s a certain element of nostalgia baked into the experience of seeing that he-who-must-not-be-named (19, M, revealed himself as unready to commit to love as a philosophical object) has mutualed the one guy whose middle school you went to to present on vertical transportation systems for the annual Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Future Cities Competition, because when two gay people follow each other on the social media app called Instagram, it can only mean one thing.

See, even I fall back on heuristics! Maybe I do need a lobotomy

We’re used to seeing queer relationships depicted as hypersexual, eroticized, superficial. That’s super awesome. My parents would take me to Miami Pride as an infant. I’ve seen it all. Trust. 

I say this to say: Sure, I’ll tag along with the divas that wanna live it up at Berghain or Mood Ring or wherever-the-fuck and entertain their transient escapades. But these experiences, along with the other generally accepted signifiers of this thing called “being gay” have less to do with being gay than the inextricable yearning. I reject your dating-app-scented poppers: I wanna watch Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel make piercing eye contact on the big screen for two hours. You guys (gender-specific) just don’t get it the way they do. 

There’s things I wanna say to you, but I’ll just let you live. 

The yearning provides an opportunity for a kind of rare imagination. I’m converting this psychic energy into something productive, unlocking the “secret third thing”, in the words of my illustrious post-sincere contemporary Liwa Sun. I must not get caught up in the homonormative body politics of Elmo Late Nights. I am participating in a radical imagination, the yearning for some semblance of a just and safe shared future. 

Hunger hurts, but starving works when it costs too much to love

The universe will open itself up to you in radical new ways when you realize that the yearning is not just an indulgence, something to be ashamed of, but an imperative. The yearning is a tool, though amorphous and daunting at times. To pick up the tool, to recognize it for what it truly is, is the first step in forging those better possibilities, romantic, political, and otherwise. 

And if it's an illusion, I don't want to wake up. I'm gonna hang on to it. Because the alternative is an abyss, is just a hole, a darkness, a nothingness.