Tag Archives: childhood

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.

First Wives Club Dancing GIF - FirstWivesClub Dancing Walking - Discover &  Share GIFs

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:

Can You Smell That?

“The Intimacy of Heartbeats”
by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

What I intended to write about today no longer resonated with me after the end of the workday I just had. I felt I needed to write about something that would bring me pleasure and pass that on.

Some Mondays really are prickly than others.

I went out walking earlier this morning (during my break from virtually working) and I kept thinking how much I enjoy going for a walk this time of year. Mostly for the way the air smells so cold, crisp, and fresh in its own way. The skies seem bluer and the scenery more honest.

The walk reminded me of the way particular scents have a way of grounding and relaxing me.

My Dad was a chef (he is now retired) when I was growing up and he was always cooking or baking something which would smell throughout our house. Even on his days off he never stayed out of the kitchen for too long (as an adult I miss his cooking which has forced me into trying to emulate what I learned and continue to learn from him in the kitchen).

The humor, looks, charm, and culinary skills I possess I owe to this guy (my Dad).

I vividly remember the times I would come home from school, work, or practice and I could smell dinner from the moment my car pulled up to the driveway. And if he wasn’t cooking or baking – he was always burning a candle.

These sense of smell memories keep flooding back and suddenly I feel calmer than I did at the start of this post (writing is magic).

As my mind continues to wander down scent memory lane – there are the times I remember waking up with my window open and the smell of him cutting the grass. It’s funny to recall all of the smells that take me back to that yellow house and younger times.

What are the other scents that I can recall in this moment and the feelings/words I associate with them?

  • Ocean/Beach (home)
  • Campfire (warmth)
  • Mom-mom’s Sunday cooking (love)
  • Vanilla (childhood)
  • Lavender (growing up)
  • Coffee (Dad)
  • Books (inspiration)
  • Apple-cinnamon (comfort)

Honestly, my list is more than likely longer than this – but the point is to just list and relax. So, I encourage you – can you think of 5, 10, or more smells that bring you comfort?

My next task is to go cook dinner and hope that my apartment will fill up with some delicious, comforting smells.

Seek joy and sit with it (or smell it).