Did You Know That Being Gay Is a Superpower? An Essay by Onsen

Onsen © Julian Buchan
Onsen © Julian Buchan
Today, indie artist Onsen shares his experience with diving into unknown territories in love and instinct, and the wild ride of escaping what’s expected of you.
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Did You Know That Being Gay Is a Superpower?

by Onsen (Drew Straus)

Momma Said - Onsen

No, really. It’s like X-ray vision for life. Or at least the ability to see alternate dimensions.

Some background on this statement: I’m from Cambridge, MA. It’s just across the Charles River from Boston and is highly sensible and fairly set in its ideas about how to live a life. From about the age of 2, there was a plan charted out for me: work as a pediatrician and marry the girl next door. At a young age, that seemed great. My doctor was nice enough and the girl next door had great hair.

For years, I more or less went down that path. At some point, doctor morphed into diplomat and girl next door became girl around the corner, but, honestly, same difference. Essentially, I was living in a pre-set sandbox. And it almost worked. If I bent myself into a certain kind of shape and didn’t look in the wrong direction, it was kind of ok.

Onsen © Chris Coats
Onsen © Chris Coats

I might have gone right down the straight and narrow if it wasn’t for the fact that along the line I got bit by a mutant spider: I developed a bit of a crush on a boy. Now, this wasn’t the first time I’d been attracted to a guy but I assumed everyone was at times and we just didn’t talk about it. This seemed different. I would get butterflies if our arms touched. Rubbing suntan lotion on his back was a full body experience. My journal had his name on every page. What was happening??? I had to step off the path and figure it out.

Tragically, my crush was trampled to death by the rhinoceri of heterosexuality and was buried in the suburbs. But it didn’t matter, I kissed another boy anyway and was shaken to my core. I began to question everything. What makes a life meaningful? What do I actually want for myself? Who should I be with? Is having children essential to a fulfilling life? Is LA really a flaming dumpster that’s on fire? Why are the kinds of people I spend time with so limited in scope? The world was about to become so much larger.

And this is why I say it’s a superpower: I feel that because of my queerness I was able to do things that would have been impossible for me otherwise. Suddenly I could see in places I couldn’t before: I didn’t really want the path that had been placed before me. Mountains in my life became easier to leap over: I quit my drab tech job and started playing music, something I never would have allowed myself to take seriously. In that period of change, I moved to LA to study music composition.

That isn’t to say it’s always easy. In some ways, life is more challenging. Being a musician is tough as anyone on this site can tell you. And though LGBTQ+ acceptance has come a long way, there are still assholes out there who want to put us back in a closet or in a grave. But those challenges are part of my own choices, not the aches of trying to fill a space that doesn’t fit. And for me, those are the easier ones to face. Not to mention they are offset by the joys of aligning yourself with your own truth.

Onsen © Brandon Andrew
Onsen © Brandon Andrew

Without being queer, I don’t think I ever would have made music.

I never would have felt enough to care. To fit that preordained space, I would have had to go numb or expend all my energy just to make it work. And I never would have given myself permission. Having come out, I get to write songs about the loves I’ve had and lost, my strange surreal dreamlife, and sometimes, like my new single ‘Momma Said,’ songs that address the queer experience.

I want to leave on this note: whatever about you feels unacceptable, if you embrace or at least explore that part, it’ll lead you to a rabbit hole that’ll change your life for the better. Even if you’re not queer, challenging the assumptions society puts on you will lead you to your own superpower. And if you don’t know what that is, celebrate Pride by kissing someone that’s not the gender you’re used to. I promise you will learn something about yourself and probably end up shooting laser beams into the nearest building.

With love,

Drew Straus (Onsen)

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Stream: “Be There” – Onsen

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Momma Said - Onsen

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