Monthly Archives: December 2020

A Friend of Dorothy

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I’m fascinated by all of the code names people used to use to communicate that they belonged to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Lately I’ve wanted to know more about the history of the Queer community, so I’ve been seeking out a lot of literature that can help me to understand how far the community I belong to has come.

I had never heard the phrase, “A Friend of Dorothy” until recently – but as soon as I did a let out a laugh. Then I tried to comprehend how terrifying it must have been back then to have to use coded language to connect to others.

For all the times I have fantasized to want to grow up in a different time, I am grateful that I live in the here and now (even in the pandemic times of 2020). I could not imagine not being able to live my truth out loud, or never having the chance to meet my chosen family out in the open. *note for those not in the LGBTQIA+ community: I do experience hatred on a regular basis, and sometimes exist in fear of living so outwardly. I think that’s important for folks to know.*

One of my favorite things about myself is my Queerness – I am a friend of Dorothy, just like the other Queers before me.

The phrase left me curious to go through some standout LGBTQIA+ musicians from the past. Some I have listened to before, and some recently discovered (I suppose nowadays it would be a friend of Beyonce, Cher, Whitney or Britney….or still Dorothy because, she’s still relevant).

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester

This is actually one of my favorite songs to play when I’m in a dancing mood or need to pump myself up. I imagine if I was alive when Sylvester first came about in the late 70s and 80s I would’ve been a huge fan. For some reason I picture myself walking into a Gay bar on a weekend in the Castro just to see Sylvester perform. Queer history really had some fabulous figures within it.

Galileo – Indigo Girls

You may be thinking since I grew up in the nineties I listened to the Indigo Girls – but I never did. The funny thing is I grew up on a lot of different music, but never remember listening to the Indigo Girls. I know they are recognized as the very gay band of the nineties (Lilith Fair and all…). When I got into the Indigo Girls it was actually around the time I came out (stereotype, I know) and I started to watch the series the L Word (…the stereotype keeps doubling). This is one of my favorite songs by them, and I of course will always appreciate “Closer to Fine” because it is the first song I heard of theirs (and yes it was the scene from the L word when they are all in the van…).

Million Dollar Bill (Frankie Knuckles Radio Mix) – Whitney Houston

Frankie Knuckles…this was a fun discovery of mine – I had never heard of Frankie before, but there’s a lot of information out there about him. They referred to him as “The Godfather of House Music” and he was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996. Of course after listening to a few songs this song stuck out to me because, Whitney.

When the Party’s Over – Janis Ian

How funny it is that it always seems that those within the LGBTQIA+ community tend to gravitate towards one another without realization. Like in elementary and middle school – how many of my good friends from then are now living life happily out of the closet (as if I had my own gaggle of gays back then, without any of us realizing…). Anyway, I consider the same with music. I remember listening to Janis Ian after getting into collecting vinyl as a teenager and feeling drawn to her music in a very deep way. Funny to think years later I’d be writing this piece about LGBTQIA+ musicians within history and reminiscing of the first time I listened to Janis Ian feeling connected, and yet still not knowing myself.

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

When MTV and VH1 played music videos once upon a time I used to be glued to the TV when this song came on. I was entranced by Boy George and “Karma Chameleon”. Now this song makes me long to go back to times when dancing in the streets for Pride or Outfest or in Queer bars was once a thing (pre-2020).

Watch Me – Labi Siffre

At first I thought I had never heard of Labi before, and was excited to discover his music. Then I started to listen to a few of his tracks and was instantly like “hey..wait a minute…” Eminem and Kanye have both sampled his tracks for their songs – as I am sure many others have as well. Once again, remember how I mentioned the incredible coincidences where LGBTQIA+ people are somehow drawn to each other without realizing? Labi’s story is intriguing and his music is soul soothing. Important to note he has been out- openly gay throughout his career too.

City Girl – Joan Armatrading

The first time I listened to Joan Armatrading was just last week. I was trying to find more artists that had a similar sound to Joni Mitchell, and Spotify led me to Joan Armatrading. This was one of the first songs that pulled me in. Her voice reminds me of Tracy Chapman with the feel of Joni Mitchell. When I looked her up I realized she was also a part of the community (which instantly makes me appreciate an artist or frankly anyone… a little bit more). I’ve been pretty hooked on her music ever since, and this album particularly.

Tutti Frutti – Little Richard

For no reason for which I can remember I listened to Little Richard a lot as a kid. I loved his music and he was just so fabulous – almost hard to resist. Sadly I think my appreciation for him took a bit of a backseat in my life up until his recent passing. I began to revisit his music more and learn more about his history with being underappreciated within the industry.

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

One of my favorite songs when I was younger has held true into adulthood. As an adult I feel I have related to this song in different phases in my life and somehow the same words in a song have had different significant impacts to various stages in my life. I love Tracy Chapman and I could listen to her all day long.

Main Event – RuPaul

The Brady Bunch movie was the first time I saw RuPaul on screen and I was mesmerized. That scene stuck with me for years (the one at the pool with Jan). Then Rupaul’s Drag Race was a thing, and I fell in love with the Queens of season 2 and so many seasons later – it’s still my favorite. This album is my favorite of Rupaul’s and the world outside of the LGBTQIA+ community needs to know more than just “Supermodel” and “Covergirl” exist.

References and Further Reading:

How the LGBTQIA+ Community Has Influenced Music

Pitchfork

Rolling Stone

LGBTQ Music Icons

Tis the Season for Movies

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

What is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year, is also somehow the most stressful time as well (and occasionally the most depressing). 

I’m no stranger to spending a Christmas or two by myself – and frankly sometimes those have been the most festive ones. Holiday movies are a way of immersing myself with the spirit of the season. 

So, in the spirit of undeniable joy – I’d like to share a few of the movies that shaped me (yes- Christmas movies can have more of an influence on a person than you may know….just read to find out). 

A Diva’s Christmas Carol 

This movie aired on VH1 on December 13, 2000 – I was a ripe 10 years of age and instantly smitten by everything that is Vanessa Williams. Anytime and everytime that movie was scheduled to play on TV, I needed to be in front of the television. The inner gay-by in me was floored by the elegance and fierceness of Ms. Williams. Overall though, it was definitely the soundtrack that kept me coming back each time. As I type this I can hear “Heartquake” play over and over in my head. You want to talk about a campy Christmas movie? This is it. 

It’s a Wonderful Life

Hands down my all time favorite and an absolute classic. I remember the first time I saw this in high school at a friend’s house and how resistant I was because it was in black & white (teenagers, amirite?). By the end however, George Bailey had won me over and I was doing my best “Merry Christmas Bedford Falls” and “Clarence!” impressions until it annoyed my sisters to no end. This movie has a message that is one I think a lot of us need to be reminded of – appreciating the life we are living without regretting the journey. 

Polar Express

Top three songs: “Believe,” “Hot Chocolate,” and “When Christmas Comes to Town.” The movie didn’t come out until I was a teen, but it was my best friend’s absolute favorite and he listened to the music all of the time. It was kind of hard to escape and in the end became one of my favorites. For me, the movie has the feeling of what Christmas represents – that yearning to still want to hold on to the magic of the holiday.

The Santa Clause (2 to be specific)

You’re probably thinking, “wait…why the sequel? Why not the original?” There’s a reason The Santa Clause 2 is special to me, because of the impact it had on me accepting my Queer identity. Flashback to December 2011: Drunk off tequila at my ex-boyfriend’s house off-campus and all I wanted to watch was this movie *I had seen the movie before, but I was suddenly obsessed with watching it whenever I’d hang out with him* There was a moment in the movie when Elizabeth Mitchell plops down on her couch (in the cutest possible way) right before Tim Allen is about to explain to her he is Santa Claus.

I suddenly realized something about myself in that moment that I felt like I had been suppressing for over two decades of my life – because I thought I only could have one choice. On the screen, I realized I loved this movie because I have a crush on this actress and maybe it was the tequila – but does this mean I’m gay? It was a lot to process: I was drunk, I was at my ex boyfriend’s house, and I was having this inner monologue. So what do I do? I went outside after it had just snowed, sat on his front step and looked above my head to a porch decorated in Christmas lights, and I just cried. Then, I called my best friend (all while still sitting on this front porch). I remember him answering and me saying, “Joey, I think I’m gay” and his only response was, “WHAT! My two best friends are having life changing moments tonight. How is this happening, what is my life. Wait where are you?” Then I of course told him where I was and I’m sure he said “Omg Traci!” Our conversation lasted a bit longer, and then I remember trying to gather myself before going back upstairs to finish the movie (I’m pretty sure I wandered back to my place after that). This movie was my segway into accepting myself, yes – but I’m not guaranteeing it’ll do the same for you….it’s just a funny story about a cheesy Christmas movie that in a significant way, changed my life. 

The Grinch

The best part of this movie is Martha May Whovier and her iconic line “Betty! Hiiiii!” (yes the role is played by Christine Baranski.) However, the reason I really love this movie is because of my fabulous friend Jeremy. I’m not sure why or how the tradition started, but every Christmas Eve he will send me the scene of Martha May and it is a highlight of my holiday season every single year. This movie for me is about friendships and traditions…and it’s not even necessarily about the movie. Also, sidenote: The Grinch is clearly a Gay icon that has a bad wrap. 

Recipe for a Perfect Christmas

This is actually a Lifetime movie, but I of course own it on DVD. A heartfelt Christmas movie that has quite a few familiar faces (Christine Baranski…is anyone sensing a trend here?). I got pulled in because of Baranski, but I stayed for the food critic trying to rise to the top by also saving the chef who doesn’t want his restaurant to close all while repairing a mother/daughter relationship throughout. Take it or leave it – highly recommended for the Lifetime movie lovers in your life. 

This Christmas

Okay, so I actually watch this movie all year around and here is why: it gives me that comforting feeling that only certain movies can bring. The family dynamics are believable because they feel real – not “Hallmark” like. There are also so many big names in this movie it is hard not to adore. A mixture of humor, drama, and feel-goodness – if you haven’t seen this movie yet, add it to your list for today or tomorrow. 

The Family Stone

Another holiday movie that I could watch at any time of the year when I need a sense of comfort. I think there’s something about how real the family dynamic feels, or the comical bits of SJP being the butt of every joke as the uptight girlfriend. Any movie with Diane Keaton tends to win me over, but regardless this is a must watch for me every holiday season. Watch it, but I warn in the end it ends up being a tear inducing one. 

Honorable mentions:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Happiest Season
The Preacher’s Wife
Home Alone 1 and 2
Elf
Jack Frost
A Bad Mom’s Christmas (because, Baranski)
All of the Claymations

What are some movies you’ll be watching? Do you have holiday favorites that weren’t on the list (and please don’t say A Christmas Story…)? Share below in the comments!

Holiday Music to My Ears

By Tray Taylor
Instagram: @allusiontoreality

Through the years I’ve realized there are three kinds of people out there: 

  1. Ones that love Christmas music and will start playing it as soon as they possibly can.
  2. Ones that tolerate it, but only when (and I mean ONLY when) Christmas is a few days away.
  3. Ones that cringe at the sound of it. 

So where do I fit? I fall into the let me listen to Christmas music whenever I need a lift in spirits, and that definitely starts some time in November. 

But don’t worry 2’s and 3’s – I usually keep this to myself through headphones or when I’m in a car driving solo. I won’t subject others to it until, at least, December. 

My favorite thing growing up was playing Christmas records on our huge stereo (that had a radio, cassette player, record player, and cd player). We had a solid collection of Christmas with The California Raisins, Chipmunks Christmas, New Kids on The Block, and I’m sure a few other classics. 

The ones I still own: two throwback vinyl records and one new…all Christmas

Then the 90’s and 2000’s brought us a few classics like: 

+Mariah Carey (ahem the Queen of Christmas) – Her original Christmas album is the stand out above them all. I remember being young and trying to make up dance routines (by myself) with a single candy cane – as if I was in one of her music videos for “All I Want For Christmas is You”. Fast forward for a second to current time, have you seen her special that includes a festive number with Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande? If not, go watch it…now!

+Snowed In by Hanson (things that feel gay, but aren’t gay) – I remember walking in the mall past an FYE (remember those?) and seeing this beautiful album cover. My obsession with this band was so deep, and this album fulfilled all of Christmas music AND Hanson needs (…still does).

+Whitney Houston – She’s a woman that gave us lots of holiday content in these decades – with her ‘One Wish: The Holiday album’ and her role in The Preacher’s Wife.

+*Nsync’s Christmas album (did it even have a name?) – Apparently this album was entitled ‘Home for Christmas’ – who knew? This album is very nineties, but also still amazing from start to finish even in 2020. And that music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” yes…please…on repeat.

+Britney Spears – let us not forget “My Only Wish (This Year)” because without Britney Spears what were the 2000s?

+TLC – I don’t know about you, but TLC encompasses everything 90s. “Sleigh Ride” is a necessity to listen to and have on every Christmas playlist. Plus, that video will surely send you back to more cheerful times than the current.

+Hilary Duff – before there was Miley Cyrus on Disney Chanel there was Hilary Duff. I just rediscovered “Down on Santa Clause Lane” when trying to create my latest holiday playlist. And I listened to it about five times on repeat. This song reminds me of the abundance of cheer Christmas music can bring.

+Vanessa Williams (okay but have you EVER seen A Diva’s Christmas Carol? *more on this later in an upcoming post if you haven’t*) – Little gayby me loved Vanessa Williams – so much to the point I can’t explain why entirely. The early 00’s gave us the pleasure from VH1 of dropping a full soundtrack of Vanessa William holiday songs via the movie A Diva’s Christmas Carol. I watched that movie any chance I got, to the point that it irritated everybody else in the house because it was on so much.

+Destiny’s Child – Oh the “8 Days of Christmas” how representative of the times. The music video for this song is so festive and will fill you up with nostalgia. One of the greatest female groups in musical history provided us this song, so if it’s not on your playlist – is your holiday music intake even complete?

I could go on, believe me – especially with all the new music that has come out over the past couple of decades. Instead, I’ll just share my newly created playlist, along with one filled with more of the “classics”. 

Happy Holigays (I needed a more upbeat Christmas playlist, and for it to be super gay)

‘Tis the season (I created this back in 2013, and have been adding on ever since – note: does contain some repeats from Happy Holigays)

So, where do you fall on the holiday music spectrum- are you a 1,2, or 3? Share some of your favorite holiday songs with me below in the comments.

Dusting Off the Bookshelf

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

The tale is in the title this time. 

I was trying my best to hold off on buying new books because my bookshelf is overflowing (as it darn well should be since I am a writer & a librarian). The problem is I haven’t read some (several) of those books or I never really intend on reading them more than once. 

So, this past weekend I went through my main bookshelf and made three piles:

+books to give away
+books to read & then give away
+books to FINALLY read & put back on the shelf. 

This activity in itself made me feel accomplished (it really is the little things in 2020).

Especially because I was not only letting go, but I was dusting off a shelf that really needed it (I forget that adulting means you actually have to dust your apartment). 

Anyway, it put me in the mood to revisit older songs that I adore, but haven’t listened to in awhile. 

Sometimes revisiting the past through music can help us to appreciate where we are in the present. 

1.Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen


One may think because I am from NJ I would follow suit in loving Bruce Springsteen. Truth is, I was a bit of a music snob that took pride in being someone that didn’t enjoy his music at all. Then one day someone told me, even if you don’t like his music – do yourself a favor and listen to the album Nebraska. It’s now one of my favorite albums and this is one of my favorite songs. If I had to only live with 10 albums for the rest of my life Nebraska would make the list. If you find yourself hesitant about Springsteen’s music like I once was, I will give you the same advice someone once gave me – listen to Nebraska.

2.The Wheel – Grateful Dead


If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know I mentioned my love for the 60s and 70s culture. I grew up a kid truly obsessed with the music and wanting to know everything about the time period. Right out of high school I went to my first Phil Lesh show – which was followed by a handful of Bob Weir, Furthur, and The Dead shows. I remember the first time I heard The Wheel live – I know jam band music isn’t for everyone, but it’s a different experience hearing it in person. At those shows I really felt like I was getting to experience a bit of a decade I wasn’t alive to live through. And oh what long and strange trips they were…

3.Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) – Janis Joplin


I’ve been listening to Janis a lot lately and dusting off my vinyl records. She’s been a favorite of mine since I was younger- I was always fascinated by her. If you really take the time to listen to this song it embodies all of the power that is Janis Joplin. The energy and the voice is all jam packed into this one song. A woman that was an icon of her time, and certainly doesn’t get the recognition she deserves compared to the men in her era.

4.For Once in My Life – Stevie Wonder


What other artist has the ability of connecting people through music better than Stevie Wonder? This song is one of my favorite Stevie songs, and it just sort of has the ability to get you out of your seat & sing along. I’ll never forget the time he did a surprise free concert in Philly (and ya’ll wonder why I talk about why I have such a love for that city…). It was right when I got back from my 25th solo birthday trip from Seattle, it felt like an extended birthday gift. I walked from my place in South Philly to Dilworth Park and got myself a seat on the lawn not too far from the stage. Stevie Wonder is timeless, and that is one concert I will never ever forget.

5.Walkin’ The Boogie – Memphis Slim


If this song doesn’t leave you speechless, I’m not sure what to say about your musical ear. I discovered Memphis Slim this year when I was trying to discover new music (for myself). This is a standout song and after you’ve listened to this – I encourage you to check out more of his music. Memphis Slim’s depiction of Blues music is like a stellar painting heard through sound.

6.Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival


Oh CCR how I’ve adored this band for so long – I went through a phase of only listening to CCR for a bit and wanting to listen to their entire discography. Green River was the song that always stuck out for me because of how upbeat it is. Honestly, I don’t think I knew (and still don’t fully know) what the lyrics were other than when he sings “Green River”. The instrumentals are my favorite though, and even as I relisten to this song now – I realize how quickly it puts me in a good mood, and why it was always a favorite.

7.Voodoo Woman – Koko Taylor


Thanks to a new vinyl subscription I received as a gift this year, I discovered this incredible woman. Her voice will blow you away, it is absolutely astonishing. Koko Taylor, who was sometimes called “Queen of the Blues”, is one person you need to add to your playlist…right now. If you take nothing else from this post today, add any one of her songs (although I recommend this one) to a playlist. Sometimes people wonder how can you “feel” music? Listen to her sing, if that doesn’t “feel” like you’re “feeling” something outside of yourself…check your pulse.

8.Wild World – Cat Stevens


Does anyone remember Myspace? This song was on my page for the longest time. I was young and angsty with a whole life ahead of me. At the time this song meant something completely different to me, and it’s funny to even think what my world of problems were as a teenager. Not to mention how very real they felt at the time. Now, I think I just listen to this song and appreciate the life I have lived so far as well as the many years ahead of me.

An Ode to Mary Oliver

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality


Poetry has always held a special place in my heart. 

Somewhere out there exists a notebook of poetry that I wrote in middle school. I’m pretty sure in one of those poems  I compared the crush I had on my middle school boyfriend to having a vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles on a hot summer day (I was so deeply poetic then…).

Mary Oliver has always been one of my favorite poets and I think from the moment I first read her words, I felt some sort of connection to her (I’ve always loved when writers can somehow make their readers feel connected to them as if we’re long lost friends through their writings.).

2020 has me reading her poetry more and more – yearning to be inspired, but also to feel comfort. As I was searching through her words earlier this week, I stumbled upon these lines:

“The most regretful  people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” – Mary Oliver

Those words did two things for me

  1. Hit me like a ton of bricks
  2. Forced me into deep thought and consideration that it is my duty to myself to keep pursuing writing. To keep striving for plan A, not settling for plan B. 

The time is now, because life is happening NOW. 

So, lately I’ve been trying to keep the fire of inspiration lit in a few different ways:

  • Weekly Goal Lists (sometimes I accomplish half, sometimes only a few – but it’s been holding me accountable)
  • Lighting candles that smell like my favorite wintery smells (pine trees, apple cinnamon, sugar cookie, etc…)
  • Stretching every morning (okay okay this is mostly to keep my back from collapsing completely…but it is helping my overall mood)
  • Reading more (I am a reader, even when I had loads of graduate homework  – it was my favorite way to procrastinate. But, my to-read pile has been getting higher and higher. So, it’s been a nice reminder that reading can be beneficial in many ways.)
  • Cooking soup (this may sound odd, but I have been on a soup cooking spree lately. It’s been both delicious and inspirational – also the warmest of food hugs.)

This year has been one like any other, and it is hard to believe we are in December already. I just hope through all the muck, you are able to find a sense of inspiration in any which way that is a right fit for you. 


As the famous Mary Oliver line goes, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Once Upon a Rock Journalist Dream

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Of the many writing dreams I had for myself as a kid, becoming a rock journalist was pretty high on the list. I had a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine dreaming my name would one day be featured within the pages. 

Almost Famous was one of my favorite movies – yep I was extremely jealous of William’s luck and lifestyle (for years I was convinced I was born in the wrong decade). I was the kind of kid that was fascinated by music from previous time periods – especially the 60’s into the late 70’s culture of music. 

My love and appreciation for music runs deep. 

I have come to realize since starting this blog that the pieces I enjoy sharing most are the ones where I pick a few songs and add commentary. 

As the blog continues to grow, and transform – I would like the music sharing to continue to be a constant. (Note: I have also categorized my writing posts now. Tray’s Music Corner is where you will find song suggestion posts.)

Music has been and will always be a big part of my life – and I fully believe sharing music is one of the most intimate things people can do.

And on that note, here’s some music to get you through the week (I know the stress of the holiday season is among us and in a different way than ever before): 

1.Soul Sacrifice – Santana 

This song was my introduction into the great Carlos Santana – and let me say, this man is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I used to ask my Dad often about Woodstock and he would tell me how much he loved this performance in particular (no he did not attend even though he was old enough at the time – yes I grew up pestering him about this.) Santana’s music is incredibly calming and I proudly own at least half of his discography on vinyl – aside from Jim Croce, Santana is my favorite music to put the needle on the record to. If you’ve never taken the time to listen to his guitar skills, please do your ears a favor and do that right now. 

2.Holiday – Lil Nas X


It’s December and this song feels like it should be played year around. Lil Nas X is a gem and I’ll admit I didn’t appreciate him to the fullest extent until he came out as Queer. This song is catchy and it is guaranteed to get stuck in your head after a listen or two. My favorite verse in the whole song (based on the fact that I love clever inserts) “Man, I snuck into the game, came in on a horse/ I pulled a gimmick, I admit it, I got no remorse/ Nobody tried to let me in, nobody opened doors/ I kicked the motherf**ckers down, they didn’t have a choice”

3.A Case of You – Joni Mitchell


Anything and everything Joni Mitchell soothes my soul. I’ve began to appreciate her music in my late twenties and now as I am beginning my thirties. These past few years living in DC I have found when I feel lost or need to be recentered I turn on Joni Mitchell. So, I share with you one out of the many favorite songs I adore. 

4.The Boss – Diana Ross

This is my “get up and dance song,” my “everything is going to be okay if you dance it out song”. Ms. Diana Ross is the Queen of my feel good tunes playlist. Seriously though this is one of my favorite songs of all time, and it is the one song I think can be put on at anytime to improve my mood no matter what. 

5.I Love Me- Demi Lovato


Demi, Demi, Demi – where do I begin? First, I think her talent goes unappreciated among the other teen stars that emerged at the same time as her. She has been through some struggles, some real life hardships (if you don’t know, I recommend looking up her story…I will alert content warning for drug use). Anyway, this song had perfect timing for me personally and it was one of those songs I loved to belt out loud word for word when I am alone in my apartment. 

6.I Know a Place – MUNA


Sometimes I go down Spotify rabbit holes – like that section that says “fans also like”. That is how I found MUNA and I am so damn glad I did. This song has been on repeat for me for over two years now. It is upbeat and the lyrics are ones that pull, at least, to my soul of souls. A beautifully written and sung song with the catchiest of beats. 

7.Hazy Jane ll – Nick Drake


I fell in love with Nick Drake’s music when I lived in Philly, and I think that was the perfect time for me to have discovered his music. Listening to this song now, it takes me back to a crisp fall day in Philadelphia with me walking through one of my favorite parks right after all the leaves have just turned into a burst of golden colors. That day I described is actually a feeling that this exact song gives me. A sort of nostalgic feeling, wrapped in a hug of hope for the future ahead of me.

8.Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads

“Same as it ever was…” no matter where I am in life I swear it seems this song keeps coming back. I remember as a kid hearing this song being played in my Dad’s truck as we would go out for a drive. The meaning of the song has changed for me as I have gotten older – when I was little I thought it was just a silly song. Now, as an adult still figuring it all out, I find myself asking the important question “Well…how did I get here?”

Have any of the songs I have written about so far sparked any memories for you? Did you discover a new artist or maybe an old favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

Showtunes for the Soul

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

When I was younger I used to climb onto the corner of the couch and perform “Grease Lightning” as if I was the next Danny Zuko standing on top of a 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible.

So gay (I’d like to note I mean this in an endearing way, not the way childhood bullies and frankly adults with homophobic tendencies try to tarnish the word like it’s a bad thing.)  

No wonder the first time I was brought to a Showtunes Sunday in the Gayborhood I felt like I was at my home away from home. In reality I was just on the top floor at Tavern on Camac, squished like a sardine between a gaggle of gays who had all just got done a full day of Stonewall kickball. 

These nights were magical. Messy sometimes, sure – but mostly magical. 

Last week I enjoyed my long holiday by singing nothing but showtunes (I even created a playlist). 

There are rare moments when I feel fully myself – and this was one of those moments. A much  needed moment of reconnecting with myself. 

The playlist reflects some of the videos that would pop on the screens at Showtune Sunday and one or two musicals that I adore. It’s a long list so, here are just a few of my favorites: 

  1. Mamma Mia Soundtrack (shout-outs to Mamma Mia, Take a Chance on Me, The Winner Takes it All, Does Your Mother Know, and Super Trouper)


Oh the movie that awakened the baby Queer inside of me. This soundtrack was played on repeat between me and my best friend the year before he came out and shortly after I followed suit. It’s funny to think we were both so obsessed with this movie and its soundtrack – so close yet to accepting ourselves. 

2. Easy Street – Annie 

Overall, I prefer the Carol Burnett version of Annie. However, musically? Give me Alan Cumming all day, anyday. I love it, it’s catchy and the villains of any movie are always the Queerest. also Audra McDonald is in the version with Alan Cumming, and well you know I SWOON for that woman & her vocal chords

3. Suddenly Seymour – Little Shop of Horrors

Did this movie scare me as a child? Absolutely. As an adult did its musical numbers give me life? Without a doubt. Whenever this scene popped on screen at Showtunes it would fill me with joy – sure it’s slow – but it hits in all the right musical feelings.

4. I Will Follow Him – Sister Act

Yeah, I grew up watching this movie- and I loved it. However, there is something magical about this scene coming up on all four screens and you’re on the dance floor surrounded by a bunch of people that are in the same community as you and you all burst into song in the same moment. A room full of strangers in an instant feels like a room full of family (the beautiful magic of belonging to the Queer community).

5. You Don’t Own Me – First Wives Club (song by Lesley Gore)

This right here is an example of how Queer my childhood was before I was able to admit it to myself. I was obsessed with this movie, and I watched it often with my cousin. It brings me pure joy, so much joy that I own a pillow depicting this scene in cartoon form on my couch. Legendary is all I can say, purely legendary.

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6. Totally F**ked – Spring Awakening


Okay so this never ever plays at Showtunes, but it is a showtune that reminds me of one of my favorite people on this planet. I have seen this friend perform this show multiple times and in different roles. This song has gotten me through some crap days, and it always reminds me of one of the sunniest friends I know.

7. Good Morning Baltimore – Hairspray

I remember how often the original Hairspray movie used to play on TV, but the fabulous soundtrack for it that exists today wasn’t written until 2002. Whenever I hear this song come on whether it was at Showtune Sundays or truthfully anywhere – I get filled with sparkles of joy. I mean the line says “Tracy it’s up to you” …why wouldn’t I suddenly feel a glittery sensation of hope?

8. I Won’t Say I’m in Love – Hercules

This Disney animated movie is underrated – the music soundtrack alone is phenomenal. I remember watching this in elementary school when we had a substitute (who else didn’t love VHS day?). I fell in love with the music of this movie. Susan Egan’s voice is a real gem. Whether you are broken hearted or want to pretend to be just for the length of the tune. Not to mention how Queer this movie is – just look at Hades, the Muses, and so on and so forth. Anyway, if you love musical songs I recommend listening to this soundtrack (when I need inspiration in life I still lowkey listen to “I Can Go the Distance” on repeat). If you watch Disney movies and have yet to see this, please go watch it at some point this month.

9. Take me or Leave Me – Rent

I don’t think I saw Rent until I saw some of the musical scenes from the movie played on a Showtune Sunday. I fell in love with this scene – I mean, Tracie Thoms and Idina Menzel? Yes, pretty please. So catchy, and it persuaded me to finally watch the musical movie. Which is in ways problematic, but no doubt does it have catchy tunes. I mean, can you tell me how else would you know how to measure a year?

10. There are Worse Things I Could Do – Grease 

This entire movie musical was my childhood, and back then it was Danny & Sandy for me. Adult me however, understands how flawlessly badass Stockard Channing’s character was. Rizzo was the true gay icon of the movie, and this song was the “woe” bop we all never knew we needed.

And if you are curious as to what other songs I have on the playlist…here it is on Spotify: