L.A. Affairs: My date was on ‘Drag Race.’ He helped me get over toxic men
Our first date was very L.A. We went on a 10 a.m. hike in Griffith Park. It was December 2020, so things were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic and options were limited. Pandemic times or not, a hike is a prime choice for a first date. You each arrive as the raw, sober and daylight versions of yourselves. Plus, you’re moving, so there’s somewhere for all of that excited energy to go.
After hiking for a few hours, yes, hours, he offered me a ride home. I was a recent New York transplant, so I didn’t have a car. At the time, I didn’t even know how to drive. I do now. (In 2021, I hired a man named Steve to basically be my dad-for-hire and teach me. Thanks to Steve, I’m now a proud California driver’s license holder and I’m currently leasing a two-door Mini Cooper because I heard that they’re easy to park. They are.)
So Josh, my date, drove me home after our hike. We had planned to hang out in the backyard, but upon arrival at my place, we quickly discovered that my neighbor was receiving a professional massage in the communal backyard. We decided to let her enjoy her “me time” in peace, so we stayed inside.
I was going to UCLA law school but I learned that there was much to discover east of the 405, including a handsome public interest lawyer.
That’s where it got almost cringe-level corny. (Sorry in advance for that, but this is my truth.) We continued to hang and chat in my little bungalow apartment in Los Feliz when I received a notification that the COVID test I had taken the day before was negative. After I announced the news, Josh asked, “Does that mean I can kiss you?” (Corny, yes, but consent in the COVID era? We love to see it.)
I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. We kissed and did other stuff too. Suddenly it was 3 p.m., and we realized that if he didn’t leave then, we were in danger of him staying forever. That was mostly his call. As smitten as I was, I was 100% Team “Stay Forever!”
I put on a shirt blessed with the likeness of a drag queen by the name of Alaska Thunderf—. I picked up that shirt at the Glendale Galleria Hot Topic, which still carries clothes that celebrate my favorite pop culture icons.
Josh recognized Alaska’s flawless face on my shirt and asked, “Do you watch ‘Drag Race’?”
“Oh, I was on the show.”
“On the show? Like, what do you mean?”
“I was on the show. In drag.”
I was ready to marry my girlfriend. Would she say yes to my Disneyland proposal? Would our relationship blossom after spending a perfect day in the Happiest Place on Earth?
He explained that he was a production assistant during Season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” During that season, there was a makeover episode in which that week’s challenge was for each queen to put a crew member in drag. He signed up to be one of those crew members.
Being such a huge fan of the show, I felt as if he had made up that detail to impress me.
But it was true. He, a straight man, was comfortable and open enough to agree to be in full, professional-level drag on national television. He did the damn thing. He still has the size 13 kitten heels to prove it.
In that episode, he was paired with Shea Couleé. If you’re a “Drag Race” fan, you already know that Shea is one of the best to ever do it. If you’re a super “Drag Race” fan and remember the episode I’m talking about, I had just spent the day with Bae Couleé.
So much about that day was special. The warmth that he emitted when he first sat next to me. Feeling listened to and respected. A joke he made that genuinely made me laugh. The sexy way he walked and took up space. How we both felt comfortable enough to express our greatest hopes and biggest fears. Another corny content warning here, but I felt as if I already knew him.
This first date was unlike every other date I had ever had. The “Drag Race” detail tipped it into “Is this guy real?” territory. Josh officially became the coolest guy I had ever met.
As a bonus, meeting him helped me heal my broken faith in straight men. I have dad stuff galore, and I’ve been hurt and manipulated by insecure and anger-driven men in my past. I was sort of convinced that most men I’d meet would be like this — that I would be looking for a man who “wasn’t that bad” as opposed to a man who was good.
After the end of my five-year relationship, I was back in the dating game. Thankfully I met a handsome guy on Bumble.
Things are definitely getting better with conversations and awareness about toxic masculinity on the rise. However, there are still men out there who aren’t able to get beyond their own needs and wants, which they expect women to fulfill. They see women as more “other” than human.
They don’t have the emotional maturity — or even the want — to really consider what it’s like to walk a day in a woman’s shoes. And yet this guy literally did that on the main stage of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Spoiler: It did work out. For Josh and me, it has been more than two years since that fateful, fabulous first date that started in Griffith Park. We now live together in East Hollywood, where Josh runs his personal training business from our backyard gym.
Oh, and we’re engaged!
The author is a comedy writer who has written for several Nickelodeon shows. Follow her on Instagram for her hot takes and pictures of her cat, Motley: @jokesmagee
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.
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