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  • J. S. Chlapowski

Hanging out

Updated: May 20, 2018

Originally Published June 14, 2015


I remember watching the cleaners wax the floor, no sound but the hum of the buffer coming closer, then farther, then closer again. I was wrapped in a red blanket and surrounded by suitcases, and I knew I should move but I didn't. The cleaner just buffed around me. She smiled, and for a second I didn't feel so alone. And then she left.


This is probably the moment where I discarded my past life as an activist.


It's not quite that simple, of course. I eventually had to tell people I left DC for Korea, a process that took longer than you might think. A large part of that was redirecting people to different orgs as I was no longer available to help them. That hurt.


Later I learned that couldn't distance myself from the LGBT movement, then demand respect when I chose to step back in and give a quick opinion. People forget, and honestly I wasn't that well known in the first place.


About a week ago I spoke with a reporter on the phone, doing my best to convince him it was worth his time to come to Korea in person to report on the Pride event in Seoul. "Korea's about to have its own Stonewall," I told him, and it's true.


He said, "You're a soldier, right?"


I told him, "Not anymore. I teach English now."


"Ah," he said. "So you're just hanging out."


I guess I am.

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