All the feelings in Texas

Where do I even begin with Texas?

My favourite state, of the few I’ve visited for long enough to really feel.

Despite conservatism and restricted access to women’s healthcare, despite ‘everything’s bigger in Texas’, despite Bible Belt fundamentalism, despite so much that I find difficult or downright repulsive about what this state presents to the world… I’ve never felt quite as home as I do here.

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I travelled for 3 days on a bus to get here. Through Portland, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, four buses, 55 hours, a lot of bananas and trail mix and pisswater coffee and yes I’ll admit a bacon-and-hashbrowns breakfast at midnight at one particularly hungry moment. The journey was beautiful and strange and lonely and moving. I drew cards, you can see them here.

To be met in Fort Worth by my dearest old friend, Trinity, who knew just what I needed and whisked me off to a vegan diner for some fancy quinoa superfood affair, then took me to Denton.

Denton – North TX.

I love this town. Maybe it’s the Downtown Mini Mall, maybe it’s the Pecan-shell celebrity exhibition in the courthouse (since removed), maybe it’s the fairy lights in the trees, maybe it’s the laid-back vibe, or maybe it’s just because it’s Where Trinity Is.

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<3

This is my third trip – the first was in 2009 – and the place is changing. This time I saw a glut of new trendy bars, artisan breweries, vintage cocktail bars, you know the kind of thing. My favourite lesbian coffee shop would be closing in under a week, the hot barista off on her travels while she figured out what to do next. Apartment prices are going up and up, which means somewhere, people who make this city what it is are leaving, being priced out. But Trinity is here and that means love is here and that means good times, warmth, understanding and the kind of friendship that really comes into its own when such distant friends get to be together.

Onwards to Austin (South TX)

…to my hosts Bonica and Laura. Trinity hooked me up with her pal Bonica when my original host situation fell through…and I truly lucked out here – these are two gorgeous and excitable women whose love for each other kinda bowls you over. They picked me up from the Greyhound and promptly plonked me on a bike so we could head out in the rain for Mexican food, then later, for rum and my first po-boy.

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At GayBiGayGay

And skee-ball. My first game of skee-ball. If you watch this game you might wonder what on earth the fuss could be. You roll a ball, try to get it to hop up a tiny ramp and into high-scoring holes. That’s it. But then you actually play it and boy is that game addictive.

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We talked a lot about the gentrification of Austin too – how middle-income hipsters are buying up properties and pricing the queers and people of colour out of their traditional neighbourhoods. Bonica says the speed at which Austin changes is scary.

And then there’s the whole reason I was in Austin… but GayBiGayGay needs a post of its own. I can’t possibly sum up how it feels to be in a field of gorgeous queers, hanging out in the sunshine, everyone free to be themselves, a one day festival of love in all of its forms, and anger, and community, and empowerment, and *everything*.

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Lastly, to Longview (East TX)

I got a real taste of Texan hospitality in this pretty little town thanks to Victoria, her mum Lisa, and friend Holli. Here I enjoyed a super-long soak with complimentary toiletries (Lisa made up a little gift box for me filled with luxuries like bath salts, a foot scrub, a new toothpaste and lots more) followed by a dinner of the tenderest, tastiest Texan beef this faux-vegetarian has ever had the pleasure of tasting. We sat up talking till late, sharing tarot decks, reading for each other, swapping tarot tips and ideas, asking questions and generally having a massive tarot geek-out. It was a great night, and the first full-on tarot session of my trip.

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I didn’t take a photo of the tarot shenanigans, but Clancy thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Victoria and her mum are really knowledgable about Texas and taught me a lot about the state – including the fact that Texas used to be a republic all of its own (and legally, could return to being one if it so chose) and a great deal about the oil industry in East TX.

I also need to tell you about the amazing little travel pack massage therapist Holli put together for me – with oils for skin first aid, for hydration, for soothing, for everything my poor bus-battered body might need over 100s of hours of Greyhounding around this land mass we know as the USA.

The next morning Victoria and Lisa took me to see the beautiful main street in town – and this place looks like a film set, all perfectly maintained old-fashioned buildings, a theatre where Victoria creates costumes for the players and the crafty emporium where she runs her creative business, The Top Knot.

Then they fed me up with delicious Mexican food and popped me over the border to Shreveport, Louisiana, for my next bus onwards to New Orleans…

 

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5 comments

  1. Shelby says:

    Exciting travels! And Louisiana – I cannot praise the beauty and welcoming of this state enough, especially in the springtime.

  2. chloetarot says:

    The hospitality and sheer variety of your journey is so inspiring. Lots of lovely people, and so many experiences, this will be a trip to remember for a long time! Certainly, I’m really enjoying it vicariously. I’ll have an order of bacon and hash browns, please 😀

  3. Huri says:

    I’ve been going through your blog for a while reading a lot of tarot posts and just came across this entry… It’s so refreshing to see after experiencing hate of this state for so long. I get it, I grew up here and went through the self-hating gay southerner thing. But I came to love this state, it’s place in my identity and my religious practices, the tiny queer communities that spring up and feel so radical, the food… My opinions now are similar that first paragraph, and it’s nice to see someone here for a short while sees the same thing that took me 18 years to figure out. (btw, I’m from Fort Worth! And I know the vegan diner you’re talking about to boot, even if I’ve never been)

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