Sunday, February 06, 2005


Saturday afternoon I got a call from a friend who wanted to know if I was going to the party tonight. I had been invited to a Vietnamese New Year’s party tonight but surely this wasn’t the party my friend on the phone asking about. I asked my friend for the details for the party he was talking about. Apparently a well known guy in the DC black gay community was having a birthday party this evening and conveniently it was being held two or three blocks from where my friend and his partner were having their New Year’s party. It had to be added to my social calendar. Or did it? I switched gears and told my friend I had no intentions on going to a birthday party I wasn’t invited to.

My friend pulled up his evite and actually I had been invited. The email address on the evite was wrong. That made sense. The same guy invited me to his birthday party last year. The difference is that last year I was working at a different organization and that was the only email address I ever gave him. So indeed I was invited to his soiree. Does that mean I was going to go now? I was certainly kind of excited. His parties are for those who want to see and be seen by those on the DC social circuit. I would stand around sipping a cocktail making idle chatter with the same old faces, be stared at by the same old faces who only stare and never speak and at the end of the night feel somewhat drained from witnessing some of my least favorite rituals of this sub-co-culture I identify with. Is that how I wanted to feel on my Saturday night? I didn’t know.

I threw on my wardrobe for the night and headed to the New Year’s party and somewhere along the way I would make the decision to walk those two or three blocks to the next party as the night progressed. When I entered the New Year’s party I held up a bottle of wine to signal my arrival. I took off my coat, mixed myself a drink, fixed a plate and for the next few hours enjoyed myself immensely being submerged in conversations with people about everything from foreign languages to running a marathon. Usually at these parties I feel a little uncomfortable. When J-Dawg and his partner throw a party the guest list is typically comprised of three black people (including me), about five white people and 70 – 80 men and women of Asian descent. For whatever reason though, tonight I was at ease. I could just be me.

A little after 10 pm the party began winding down. I grabbed my coat and started walking. There I was three blocks from the party. I went to Taco Bell and had a taco. There I was one block from theparty. There I was two doors away from the party. I slipped inside an ice cream shop and got a strawberry’ n cream milkshake. With milkshake in hand I walked by the restaurant where the party was being held and didn’t even look through the window. I kept my eyes straight ahead. I wasn’t going.

A few steps later I saw a brother I have seen on the circuit for as long as I’ve been in DC. I was walking in one direction and he was walking in the other. He gave me a ‘where are you going, the party is in the opposite direction’ look. I gave him an ‘I know where I’m going, in the opposite direction' look.

With one hand in my pocket and my other hand holding my milkshake to my mouth I continued strolling and sippin' until I noticed the personalized plates on a parked car to my right. I stopped. The plates read LIBER8D. It was confirmation I had made the right decision. Like Thirty-Red said on New Year’s Eve in the City, “we don’t have to chase a party.” I didn’t have to go anywhere to see and be seen, to show up as a blip on anybody’s radar or be a slave to what can be a mentally and emotionally draining master. I had already had a good time with good company for the evening and now I was going home. I was liberated.