I’m From Newark, DE – Featured Artist

by Jeremy Smith

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

FEATURED ARTIST – Frank-Joseph Frelier

STORY by Jeremy Smith

I was in 10th grade then. The sort of sissy kid that all the kids had made fun of in middle school had given way to a guy who could more or less fly under the radar about his sexuality by the time he got to the mid-part of high school.

I’d been, more or less, afraid of being gay. Not that I thought that it was wrong, but that it meant being resigned to the sort of life that Queer as Folk advertised–one of rampant sex, rampant drugs, and a total lack of real intimacy. I’d started owning up to the fact I was gay a few years before that, but I was still weary of the sort of life I’d lead as a guy who wasn’t interested at all in becoming a “circuit boi.”

Then that day, I saw the “Laramie Project”, which affirmed to me that it was okay to be who I was. And then as kismet would have it, I decided to walk into that pizza shop, where you two were sitting together.

You looked so cute together–two mature college guys. One of you with gelled blond hair, a grey turtleneck sweater, and a black leather jacket. The other with thick dark hair, a black hoodie, and a black knit cap. The preppy guy with the skater kid. Too cute for words.

I’d always wondered if I’d ever see a gay couple. And I thought you might be. It could have just been wishful thinking, but when I saw the rainbow-colored mushroom on your knit cap, I knew that you had to be!

And then you two confirmed my suspicions by leaning over and kissing. You were just two college kids, out on a date, who leaned over to kiss each other like any couple!

It was a relevation to realize that two guys could be college sweethearts on a simple pizza date like anyone else. And it was there I realized that I wasn’t going to lose anything by being gay, and that I didn’t have to live some Queer As Folk life because I was.

So thank you, College Couple on a Date in 2003…because you showed me a way to be true to myself, and that being gay didn’t mean some miserable “circuit boi” lifestyle.




Frank-Joseph is an illustrator and designer living in Manhattan. He works in the film industry, and pursues drawing and writing as personal creative outlets. His graphic style is influenced by the expressive line work of Rene Gruau, and J.C. Leyendecker’s masculine, idealized men. He is currently working on his first graphic novel, “Leo,” chronicling the adventures of a college freshman. Frank-Joseph graduated from Art Center College of Design with a BFA in Illustration. Until he gets a site up, you can see more of his work at franklyillustrated.blogspot.com. His other interests include dinosaurs, Mogwai, shiny objects, and the silent “p” in pneumonia.




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