I am overdue for a joyous article remarks just about everyone in my circle. I mean considering the fact that the last six months have been nothing but either candid thoughts on where we have erred in our handling of [insert national crisis of choice] or imploring us all to remember our empathy, I can see where they are coming from. If you do not know me personally, I am assuming that you think I am nothing more than a frustrated and beleaguered trans person simply trying to navigate having to work with the public and everything that comes with the territory of being a trans advocate/willing AMA for the majority of the people that I know. All of this is entirely true, however I promise I always take time to unwind and enjoy life, even amid the layers of chaos and ignorance that seemingly never give queer folks a respite. Specifically, I take a chunk of hours every Friday and Saturday evening and I listen to a wonderful livestream of a charismatic person who has been brightening the lives of many of us Western Marylanders (and a couple Annapolitans) by hosting themed DJ nights. So in the hopes that I can prove to you all that I still have many joyful things in my life, I want to take this article to thank my dear friend Tim, AKA DJ Sidekick.
Unlike much of the metropolitan parts of the state, the Washington County area is substantially more rural, and therefore, RED. While I can openly attest that the attitudes and thoughts surrounding queer and BIPOC folks continue to trend towards the off-the-wall idea that maybe all people are people and should be treated as such, there is still much headway and progress to be made. For many, especially those who have more hay bales than people for neighbors, the only safe space they used to have was visiting the local queer lodge, aptly named The Lodge. With COVID shuttering businesses and gatherings, not only was there a void of a space to feel safe and affirmed in, but there was also this disconnect and isolation that became immediate within a community that has coined the phrase “chosen family.” Enter DJ Sidekick. What started out as streams on Facebook live and has since morphed into Twitch streams complete with custom-curated images such as an adorable baby Tim face as well as a rainbow Doritos chip (Insert a Doritos Gang shoutout). While I am always partial to his 80s nights, I have to admit, one of the most fun nights I have had in the last year was Classic Country, and only partly because of his choice of wig and costumed attire for the evening.
With my work schedule, I end up having to view most of his streams these days with a headphone in one ear during the slow evenings at the hotel. Even still, you can catch me (badly) dancing behind the desk and incessantly requesting Blink 182 and Whitney Houston songs, because I am a creature of habit and a clichéd one at that. My wife and I have made new friends, simply through the side chat window that runs automatically within a Twitch broadcast. There is a sense of comradery and joy that just comes from being able to gather to enjoy music. Music is the universal language and we can all relate through music, even if every single aspect of our lives runs perpendicular to each other. I know personally the loss of live music, and the ability to see live music either in a local or large-show format has been the aspect of the pandemic that has stricken me more than I expected it to. I would take back all of my former complaints about sweaty music festival experiences just to have tinnitus from seeing a live musical performance up close again. While nothing will completely substitute that experience, there is something about dancing at your work or in your kitchen with sixty other people do the same in their own homes that has kept me going when I felt the most isolated and alone.
While so much of our lives having changed, and much of it altered forever, it is imperative to feel connections and normalcy, even at the most minute level. I know even as a mediocre part-time drummer, not being able to have musicals to play for, or being able to jam with friends safely has left me in a creative rut for much of the year. As much as I can sit here and thank DJ Sidekick for allowing us all that little bit of cohesive normalcy, I know it has to be much more so for him. To have gone from being able to play to a packed club or wedding for people, to doing the same for a tripod and two very annoyed cats has to have been a mental struggle on some level for Tim as well, and yet, he is smiling, dancing and sending us all good vibes and great tunes every weekend. So thank you Tim, for reminding us that even at the worst of situations, there is always music, and there is always a reason to dance.
Author’s Note: You can tune in to DJ Sidekick’s livestreams every Friday and Saturday at 7pm! https://www.twitch.tv/djsidekickmd March 19th is emo night, so I have guyliner and red skinny pants in the closet dying for a reason to make a comeback!
- Asher Kennedy is a writer, activist, transman and cisnerd living an hour outside of Washington in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. An alumnus of Shepherd University where honed both his writing and musical skills, he is the current treasurer of Hagerstown Hopes, serving as a member of its Board of Directors. He is also the co-facilitator of both the Trans and Spouse groups. Through his work with Hagerstown Hopes, he works alongside Trans Healthcare MD to bridge the gap for medical knowledge and coverage for the trans and non-binary communities throughout Maryland. He has been featured on RoleReboot (rolereboot.org) and is an avid speaker for local college and community panels. He is on Twitter @ItsAsherK, and can be found re-watching the same six episodes of The Office in his spare time.