Thursday, September 26, 2013

It’s been one year and some change

By Angela Thomas

Routines—we all get into them. Mine starts out with “headline—space—Angela Thomas.” Always.

I have been working at the Philadelphia Gay News for one year now and I have my routine. I come into the office ten minutes (or admittedly ten minutes after) 9 a.m., coffee in hand, spending my time catching up on emails, sorting details of the day before I start writing at 10 a.m. For the rest of the day, I write articles on the transgender leader coming to Philly, the queer lawyer getting the award, the LGBT community center hosting an important event, the queer Latin@ group setting a positive example in the community. This is my life. I write, write, write and every day, I am inspired by the people I interview.

It’s been a year and I have grown. One year ago, I barely talked to anyone. Talking to Philadelphia Pride Presents president Franny Price was terrifying to me. I didn’t know about half the organizations around.

One year later and I slip into the office, flirting carelessly with office manager, Carol while making jokes with other staff. I talk to my editor about our favorite shows Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars and Girls. I have no problem calling Franny—in fact I look forward to our calls. If I had to pick, I would say that GALAEI: A Queer Latin@ Social Justice Organization has inspired me the most. But I could name ten other organizations that have touched my life.

I’ve interviewed people that other journalists could only dream of. I’ve heard stories that had me in tears or had me smiling.

The truth is my life turned around in a complete circle. May 2012, I was trying on my cap and gown and imagining myself working at PGN, my best friend, Rae, working at the Philadelphia Inquirer. I imagined myself moving into an apartment in Philadelphia surrounded by amazing friends.

It came true.

September 17, I was hired as a staff writer for PGN, Rae went on to work as a staff writer for The Daily Local and I moved into an apartment in West Philly this summer with some amazing new friends. My life has come full circle. Who would have thought? Not this girl.

I’ve definitely come into my own—grown more comfortable in my skin and in my community in which I write about. I’ve learned that not everything is gay or straight, male or female. There is a beautiful grey area looking for recognition.

I’ve learned to take the phrase “you’re lucky” with a grain of salt. This wasn’t luck; this was hard work and dedication. This was a journey that took blood, sweat and tears to create. Luck didn’t hand me this experience on a silver platter. I had to work for it.

I always say this—dreams do come true. ‘The field of journalism is impossible’ they said to us. We proved them wrong. This year isn’t just about me and my one-year. This is about Rae, who works for The Daily Local. This is about Deanna, who was an assistant sports producer for and now works as an assistant advertising coordinator. This is about Laura who works as an editorial assistant for a publishing company in Philadelphia. This is about Rebekah who is in grad school to be the next best queer outreach staff. This is about Carol, who just got a job in human resources and proves every day that life is beautiful.

This is to more years writing about a community that I would be nothing without. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The fears—they keep you from living

For a long time, I considered myself the “traveling” woman—someone who wanted to explore the world. I work as a journalist in Philadelphia and as much as I love this city, I have always yearned to discover new places, even if only for a weekend.

Then it happened. A few days ago, my friend Sarah told me she bought a plane ticket to Spain. I was beyond jealous—she could afford to travel and she had no fear. She was going alone and I wished I had her courage to do so. I wish I could travel. So what is holding me back?

My fears.

Yesterday my editor asked if I had ever been to Canada. I have always wanted to travel to Toronto, Cananda. Next year, the city will host World Pride and journalists from various LGBTQ publications were asked to preview the city, write a review and have their lodging, food and air travel paid for. So what is holding this wannabe traveler back?

One word: air travel

I have never flown. I don’t even have a passport. Everywhere I have traveled in the states has been drivable and the thought of flying for the first time to another country, to a strange city by myself just terrifies me. So how can I be afraid of flying when I have never done so? I am not really sure when this fear started, but it progressively began when my life started to become exponentially better and then I realized what my fear truly is.

I am afraid of death

And it is because I love life so much.

The thought of not being on this earth anymore makes my skin crawl. I am a firm believer that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and that is what I have done and it has made my life miraculous. I love everything about life—I love the people who are in my life, I love my job, I love my city, I love my environment and I love everything I am blessed with and the thought of it slipping away from me or me slipping away from it just devastates me.

But it is more than the fear of death for me,  it is the fear of not having control. Let’s face it, when I am behind the wheel of my car, I have control of what I do, not necessarily what everyone else does, but I still have an ounce of control and the same goes for many different situations. Flying is pretty much letting other people take the wheel for me and that is something I struggle with on a daily basis.

But I am also a firm believer that sometimes, you just have to take risks, you have to enjoy the ride and you have to live life for those who truly cannot live their own. Fears keep you form accomplishing what you want.

So maybe one day I will be like Sarah, a confident young woman traveling on my own with no fear. For now, I will continue my life on the ground and maybe, just maybe, I will find that individual who will take my fears away, who will comfort me and maybe then, I will find a traveling friend.

Because this is one journalist who truly does want to see the world.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Oh, okay cupid—there are ‘plenty of fish’ for a potential ‘match’—see what I did there?

By Angela Thomas

I think one of the most frustrating things to do is get back into the “dating world.”

There is nothing more terrifying, more self-deprecating and NOTHING that makes your confidence go down more than jumping back into the cesspool of dating.

And not to tug on the “MyLifeIsWorseThanYours” rope, but for the LGBTQ-identified folks, it can be even worse.

After getting out of a one-year relationship four months ago, I decided recently to get back into the “game.” Because of my schedule, I rarely have time to see the parents I live with, let a lone go out and meet someone, so at the advice of one of my friends, I decided to try online dating.

This is exactly what it is like. You’ve got your more feminine girls and you’ve got your more butch girls and you’ve got everyone in between. You enter into this world and they all look at you (aka your profile), stare for a bit and then leave with no word.

My experiences thus far have been…interesting to say the least? I had a girl brag about her drunk driving experience. I’ve had women intrigued by my ever-so-glamorous job and I’ve been played for a fool already (and it has only been two weeks).

Online dating can be intimidating because you essentially put yourself out there to either be rejected or ignored. Don’t get me wrong, good experiences can be had on these sites, but now more than ever, they are filled with individuals who are just looking for friends or random hookups.

Online dating can also set you up for failure—like for instance—my first experience or date for that matter. Girl sends message to me, girl and I talk, girl and I go on date, girl and I seem to hit it off, girl seems to really like me, girl becomes shady, girls says she is dating someone else, thing ends. That is the best way I can describe it.

However, I have also had great experiences so far. I have met a few people who seem to have the same interests as me and who seem to be fairly awesome individuals, but my experience is not what I thought it would be. For one thing, some of the people on this site are people I’ve A) Either interviewed or B) Work within the community I write about.

There is also the issue of body image. It may seem silly, but for someone who is desperately trying to get back into shape and eat clean, all the girls on this site are either athletic or thin. On some of their profiles, they make it very apparent that whoever contacts them better already be within their weight/height requirements. It makes a girl want to go back into the “fitness closet” and stay there until some “real” results come along. I understand the idea of wanting someone who is living a healthy life, but what about those who are well on their way?

And finally, online dating has a stigma. Already, I am nervous to post this blog link on my Twitter. People seem to consider online dating as something for individuals who are not assertive or for losers. My parents think online dating is for predators. I even cringe at the thought of saying “We met online,” but why is that? In a generation where we do everything online, why is it so weird to meet someone online? As long as you are not meeting in some creepy, dark alleyway, online dating can be extremely successful.

So, what are your opinions/experiences on online dating? 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

St. Lucia and Ellie Goulding-best side salad ever

By Angela Thomas

Opening acts to me are like side salads to Italian dinners-I can take ‘em and I can leave ‘em. (nice analogy, har har)

However, St. Lucia proved me wrong to the point where I didn’t want them to leave the stage.

St. Lucia. Photo credit: Angela Thomas

On Jan. 25, British pop-singer, Ellie Goulding, came to the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. I’ve been a huge fan of Goulding since my WCUR days when her first album was on the shelves on WCU’s radio station.

After standing in the snow for a mere hour and a half, fans rushed in the building, eager to get front row seats while my friends and I opted for the “21+” section where we ultimately had the best seats in the house.

I am normally impatient with opening acts. I just want them to get over with. However, when St. Lucia came on stage and started to play their first song, it was a jaw-dropping, holy shit experience. I don’t think I have ever seen a group of fans dance so hard in my life. I think the best way to describe their sound is ethereal, ’80s-like but not in the “ohmyGAWD this is like sooooooooooo 80s” kind of way.

Side note: Check them out on Itunes and I highly recommend “We Got It Wrong”, “Closer Than This”, “All Eyes On You” and the sickest beat you will ever hear, “September.”

Get ready for your mind to be BLOWN.

Anyways, after fan-girling over St. Lucia, our girl Ellie came on (ya know…after 20 minutes)
That moment when every lesbian's heart exploded

And let me tell you…

I am still recovering from the show.

Ellie Goulding gives her fans the ultimate satisfaction of attending the best-concert-known-to-EVERYONE feeling.
Meaningful eye contact moment #3 ladies and gents (and everyone in between)

The thing about Goulding is that she writes songs about heart-break, about disappointment, about hopes and dreams and everyone can relate to that. Everyone has had their heart broken by someone or something and everyone has had hopes for their future.

And the other thing about Goulding is that when she performs, she relives the pain over-and-over again and you can see it in her face and her fans are right there with her, every step of the way. We are reliving our own memories and we are relating our experiences to her songs.
Girl knows how to play her drums

Also, Goulding has dance moves that could make the straightest girl turn gay and the gayest man turn straight.

So cheers to you Ellie, for making me lose my voice, making my legs wobbly and putting on the best concert I have seen in a long time.

Friday, January 18, 2013


There is this one community member in Philly that always asks me this: “So…are you getting your feet wet?” It is the most adorable thing and I can’t help but think about how much this job has submerged me in the queer community—and has helped me “get my feet wet.”

I interviewed a young woman the other day about her new position for a youth-oriented program. She described how her new position was her “dream job” and I could not help but smile at that notion—basically because I could relate.

It has been three months since I started this job and in those three months, I have done more than I could ever think possible and it has lead me to the most amazing opportunities.

Throughout these months, I have come to this one conclusion: never listen to anyone’s doubts.

Whatever career path you choose, someone will always have doubts. Specifically in journalism, you will always hear the phrase “oh it is impossible to find a job in journalism. Good luck!”—Or something along the lines of a smart-ass comment.

The great thing is when you prove them wrong. When your passion and talent is recognized, when someone decides to take a chance on you.

And sometimes those chances can lead to bigger change.

Just recently, I had received the opportunity to talk with Israel’s top LGBTQ group, The Aguda. I’ve had the opportunity to interview Pennsylvania’s first Democrat and female Attorney General, Kathleen Kane. I get to work under the nation’s leading LGBT journalist and activist and I get to be a part of the best team.

I’m getting used to the community. I’m getting used to Philadelphia. I’m getting used to the names and the faces and quite frankly, I think they are getting used to me (or at least I hope so).

I love that everyone’s birthday is celebrated here. I love that I can eat at my desk. I love that I can listen to music while I write. I love that I can be a WCU grad and make a difference in the LGBT community (Ty Gloria Casarez for that inspiration!)

I also love that so far, in my personal community, being LGBT is not so much a bad thing. I am getting more comfortable talking about my work place. I hope to gain more comfort in writing about it too.

Through this experience, I have the opportunity to open that can-of-worms in my hometown. I am able to write about the LGBT community that exists and to shed light on small-towns and their LGBT residents. From my research and my observations, it is not as bad as I thought it would be.

I’m not really sure what this blog post is about—but I thought I would share these things. Maybe it is about not giving up, not listening to the negative people in your life. Maybe it is about embracing your community and finding rolemodels. Or maybe it is about looking deeper into your life and your own community and finding the positive.