As I mentioned in a previous post, I write for an online news & entertainment publication called EDGE Boston. It’s an LGBT themed news source and I’ve had the opportunity to meet and speak with some important figures in the LGBT community. Last Thursday I was able to attend the fourth annual History Maker’s awards at the Geothe Institute in Boston.
The awards ceremony, sponsored and hosted by the History Project, a Boston group that works to preserve and share Boston and Massachusetts’ rich LGBT history, honored two individuals who have made major contributions to the LGBT community.
A lovely event, complete with libations, h’ors derves, speeches and support. Pretty much anyone who’s anyone in Boston’s LGBT community was there. I was asked to attend the event, talk to some of the guests, get a photo, and do a short write-up for the news. Easy right?
The event was 6-9pm in Boston’s Back bay. I, living 36 minutes away (according to MAPS), left just before 5pm. I knew I should have left at 4:30, I really did.
Anyone who drives in Boston knows that, while there is no good time to be on the road in the city, the hours of about 4:30-6pm are absolute HELL. And just a head’s up for anyone who doesn’t know, parking in the Back Bay turns to ‘resident only’ at 6pm. Perfect.
I also have a bone to pick with my gps app WAZE. Apparently this app is not an all-knowing genius and only knows my approximate location. For example, if I’m driving through a tunnel and theres a road over the tunnel it can not differentiate which I am driving on. (If it could, in fact, work in tunnels. It can’t.) Parallel streets are often confused in this app. It seems if I’m heading in the direction it wants me to go in (as in N,S,E,W) it doesn’t bother to notice which specific street I’m on. Does anyone else have this problem with WAZE?
Don’t get me wrong, the app has some cool features like warning you of accidents and police officers, detours, and slow traffic coming up in your route. BUT I’m still bitter about it not knowing where I am.
So I’m rerouted three times, dodging pedestrians and sitting through red lights and green lights alike because of the almost-haulted traffic, and alas we get into 10-minutes-before-event panic mode.
Good thing I put deoderant on and never drive in jackets. I’m sweating. nervous. by 6 I’m late and freakin’ out. There’s no where to park, all the streets are one-ways, and I’m late. To an awards ceremony. Perfect.
I should probably pause here to let you know that my stomach had already been in knots since about 1 or 2pm.
I’m new to journalism. Like I started this job in August. So, while I’ve had to conduct interviews for each story I’ve written, they’ve usually been over the phone and scheduled in advance. NOT walking up to a random stranger at an event and chatting them up.
Don’t get me wrong, I think I have a pretty awesome personality and I’m not some creepy loner. I’m just not super comfortable talking to strangers (unless im having cocktails) and I’m not super confident with this writing thing yet. (I’ll clarify that I am pretty confident in my writing skills, but being a new journalist is nervewracking!)
I know that no one I interview actually knows anything about me other than the publication I write for. But I can’t help feeling, on the inside, that they can see right through me, that they know I’m a newbie and am only figuring out what I’m doing it by…well…doing it.
So there’s the background info of my irrational fear of doing my job. I decided I had to just “fake it til I make it”. There were alot of breathing exercises and self-pep talks on that long car ride.
By the time I found a garage nearby (within a mile or so…in heels) it was already 6:30. The great debate in my mind: To go or not to go.
This was an AWARDS CEREMONY. How am I gonna walk in late in the middle of an awards ceremony? Would they even let me in?
Flip side: HOW am I gonna not do this assignment? How am I gonna let myself fail at this? I can’t. Well I would have had to if they didn’t let me in. I decided as long as there was a chance of me getting in to this thing and salvaging my article I would have to take it. I made the heels-on-brick walk to the address I had memorized by now.
The first hour was a reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The actual awards segment was not starting until 7:15!
I walked in the crowded room, tried to get hold of my nerves, made an unnecessary trip to the ladies room, and came back up, hoping to hop right into reporter mode.
But who to talk to? Everyone seemed to be engrossed in their own conversations. And worse, they all seemed to know each other. Representatives of various LGBT organizations in Boston were in attendance. They all have worked together at one point or another, whether through collaborations between organizations, supporting other LGBT orgs, or serving as board members on various volunteer-run committees and organizations.
I grabbed a glass of white wine and stood with my back to the wall, watching, listening, trying to find a lone target to pounce on, dreading doing it. Showing up late actually ended up working out perfectly for me. I don’t know how I would have dealt with the awkwardness and nervousness I was feeling for a full hour and fifteen minutes had I shown up on time. There would have been a lot more standing. Ugh.
The lights dimmed and the awards ceremony commenced. I was thankful. I stood in the back of the room, listened to the speeches, which were lovely, and actually enjoyed my time there. The History Project was honoring Chris Mason, an LGBT activist since age 14 with several notable accomplishments under his belt and Grace Sterling Stowell, the Executive Director of Boston’s Alliance of Gay Lesbian and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), trans advocate, and legendary LGBT leader.
Once the awards portion was over, dessert was served and it was time for me to find some poor sould to talk to me and get this story written.
I was lucky. I was approached by a very kind and talkative gentleman who told me his story, why he was there, about The History Project, Grace Stowell, his experience with BAGLY, and the answer to any other question I would have asked if I were able to get a word in. I loved him.
After this, with a slight confidence boost, I set off to find my next
victim interviewee. I found myself awkwardly standing by myself, waiting for a break in someone’s conversation so that I could jump in. Lots of akward smiling at this point.
Another kind and fabulously dressed fellow called me over, asked who I was, told me I looked gorgeous, and introduced me to an important person I should speak to, all in one breath. Who is this angel, I wondered?
I had the chance to speak with him and with Grace Stowell, the recipient of the 2012 History Maker Award. Both super nice and very informative and helpful.
Once the conversation had ended and I had business three business cards and enough recorded to be able to write my story, I was done. Just done. The anxiety, awkwardness, and stress of getting there were weighing on me and I longed to be curled up in sweatpants on the couch.
I slowly backed out of the room, walked out the door and clicked my heels back to the garage, thinking all the way that my mom and my girlfriend were right. That all the stress, the worry, the sweat and the cursing aren’t worth it. That everything will work out just fine.
I got in my car and made the drive home in the dark. This time much calmer.
You can see my article on the History Maker Awards here.