Milk Magazine was my baby.
Which was a good thing because I wasn’t good at much less outside of writing and publishing. I was proud of it. I was also power-crazed about it.
It was the most popular LGBTQ+ magazine in Nottingham. Or in my head it was anyways. From 9am to 5pm, myself and my dedicated team came together Monday to Saturday to come up with a monthly issue detailing the latest LGBTQ+ issues in Nottingham and well, the world. The latest Monday had just got underway and I was wiping sleep from my eyes as I sat at my desk trying to come up with an article about a homophobic Priest’s comments on same-sex marriages. Mike, my fashion editor and best friend bounced into the office (I say office, it’s really like a warehouse where we are all in one room. #Working-class problems). He is as per usual full of energy and I as ever am at a loss as to how he can be like this at this stage in the day.
“Alexander Wang’s menswear is just perfect!”, he exclaims.
“I’m really feeling it.”
“What? The actual fabric? Now that would be big for Milk!”, I laughed.
“Ah haha, most funny Mr. Intellectual! So do you actually know what you’re wearing today?”
“Clothes I hope … probably Adidas or something.”
He rolls his eyes.
“You could put a bit of effort in, you know honey. You ain’t half bad looking, bar the dark circles under the eyes, the terrible sense of fashion and the know-it-all attitude …”
“Jeez, you make me sound like a real catch.”, I smiled.
“But seriously honey, a bit of effort and you would have the men running after you.”
I don’t bother at this stage informing him (Once again!) that I’m pansexual. Because he’s gay he seems to believe everyone else is, like my mother who only says the girls because she’s straight and thinks everyone is straight. Lost? Yeah, so am I.
“What about him for example? Shy new lad in the blue polo neck? He looks like an intellectual sort. He wears polo necks after all.”
I looked over to see Max.
“He’s not a lad. He’s agender.”
“Then why are you saying he Stephen?”, Mike asks, like he’s finally caught me out and that I really secretly thought like him.
“Because he uses he pronouns.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Because I take an interest in the people that work for me.”
“I’m so confused by all this stuff to be honest honey. What’s wrong with good old-fashioned man and woman and gay and straight?”
“Mike, we are an LGBTQ+ magazine, not just a gay, lesbian and trans in a binary sense magazine. Just a gentle reminder mate … but you have one thing right, I do find him hot.”
“But how can you if you’re into guys and you’re claiming he ain’t a guy?”
“I’m pansexual. You know that.”
“Now I’m really confused honey! So what you working on anyways?”
“Father Brennan’s homophobic comments …”
“Oh, that arsehole.”
“I know, tell me about it. I can’t even say he’s homophobic in the article. Can be sued for having an opinion you know and I ain’t got that kind of money. Am reduced to he made homophobic comments.”
Mike rolls his eyes in unison with my own eye-rolling.
It was late in the day on Wednesday. The issue for this month was starting to take shape. I was over with Max who was currently interning on the magazine and therefore was left with the stories no one else was bothered to do.
“What do you have for me Max?”, I ask, staring over his shoulder as he typed.
“Two male dogs got married. They had a ceremony and all …”
“The features will get more interesting as you go along.”, I assured him.
“Oh no, I don’t mind. I like dogs. They looked adorable in their tuxes. They actually had Best Men and all because the two of them live in the same houses as many other dogs.”
His enthusiasm reminds me of my own when I started the magazine just over eight years ago. With the workload, I’ve lost that a bit. But I miss it sometimes.
The second current intern comes in. Her name’s Tanya and I gave her a shot at the magazine because her girlfriend’s mother is a friend of my Mum’s. But she’s been doing a great job all the same.
“I think the magazine’s name is quite cool. Speaks a lot to Queer history.”, she says, swigging at her coffee.
“I’m glad you noticed that …”, I began.
“Yeah, to name the mag after a Rupaul queen was a genius idea.”
Well as often happens in Drag Race, the face crack of the century, that’s what I almost have.
“I’m glad you think so.”, I reply, not having the heart to tell her that the magazine was actually named in tribute to Harvey Milk.
I spot Max hold in a giggle out of the corner of my eye. As she goes over to check in with social media for the magazine at a computer, I grin to Max.
“You didn’t have the heart to tell her either?”
“It gave me a good laugh when she first told me I must admit.”, he smiled.
By Friday afternoon, I am going over the recipes by our food editors and married couple Tina and Jenna who are doing a piece on exciting dishes with pancakes. Jenna, office mother one, changes the topic.
“You like Max, don’t you?”
For many months since my latest break-up, she has been encouraging me to put myself out there in the dating world again.
“And he likes you too.”, Tina, office mother two, adds.
Tina doesn’t quite push the whole ‘get back in the game’ line that Jenna does but she seems quite excited about me getting back in the game with Max nonetheless. Her comment makes my heart race a few beats faster.
“He said that?”
“Well not in so many words … but like it’s obvious! Haven’t you seen the way he looks at you?”
“Ah no, I think he looks at me like he does at everyone else …”
“Oh no baby, no.”, Jenna said.
“His eyes look at you like they want you.”
“Oh you know dreamlike. Long gazes.”
I wasn’t completely sold on the whole long gazes thing but before work ended, I though sure what the heck? I mean what was the worse that could happen, eh? Apart from awkward long days at work …
So I went over to him as he was clearing away his stuff into his rainbow bag.
“Say, um, you doing anything, well tonight?”
He looks up at me.
“Why? Is there something that needs finishing?”
“Um no … I was just wondering, well if you’d be free to go for maybe, a drink with me?”
There is a flicker of something in his eye. What it is, I’m not sure. Joy? Confusion? Horror?
“Like as in a date?”
“I guess so.”
“Well I’m free and I guess I’d be down for that.”
“I didn’t ever think you’d ask me out.”, Max said as we sat by the window of a quiet bar.
“Why? Because I’m your boss?”
“Well there is that but like, I always thought you were gay.”
“Mike?”, I laughed.
“Well yeah …”
“Mike thinks I’m gay. Though I have told him many times I’m pan.”
“I’m glad you’re not … gay, I mean … not that there’s anything wrong with being gay …”
“I know what you mean. What’s your sexuality if you don’t mind me asking …”
“Of course not, we are on a date after all.”, he smiles.
“I don’t really have one. I mean I suppose I say pan if anyone really pushes me to say something because if you go by the idea that sexuality is an actual thing I suppose I would be but I don’t really think sexuality, gender, race, nationality or anything like that is real. But when you get into that with people they start guilt tripping you with ‘you are trying to take away my labels from me’ bullshit so I try to stay out of that lately. You can say I’m pan if it makes things easier …”
“I think it’s better to just say you’re you if that’s what you prefer.”
He seems to melt a bit before taking my hand in his and changing the subject.
“Do you know there used to be a theatre near here? It was burned down by some yobs coming on a few years back now …”