Welcome to our new column: Tender Comrades. This will be a semi-regular advice column from a leftist perspective. If you or a loved one have questions regarding any and all aspects of life, be it romance, etiquette, family, or work, don’t hesitate to contact Tender Comrades at asktendercomrade@gmail.com

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Dear Tender Comrades,

Since it’s gemini season, do you have any advice on how to attract a gemini? There’s this guy I’ve been into for a while, but I don’t know how to make a move. What are the intricate and mystical workings of the gemini brain?


Gemini-less in greater Portland

Mx. Criticism: Huge news for you! Both myself and Dr. Self-Criticism are geminis, and therefore experts in this field. If I can be controversial for a minute, and show a little bit of my gemini nature off, I’m unsure if the astrology aspect is really the issue you’re writing about here! Astrology can have cultural significance, but it doesn’t have the ability to magically tell you how to navigate a new relationship. It seems to me that you might be looking for a cheat code to understanding someone’s mind, but those don’t really exist. 

Dr. Self-Criticism: Astrology DOES have cultural significance! If you think I learned about my sun, moon, and rising signs just to flirt with baristas and the people in theater school… you’d be right. But in all seriousness, astrology is as good a tool as any for understanding and critically evaluating our relationships with others AND it’s no joke that being astrologically literate can be key for queer flirtation. 

Mx. Criticism: Call me uncultured then, but my simple answer to your question is that you should continue getting to know this person and then tell them how you feel when the moment feels right. Starting a romantic relationship means taking on the risk that those feelings are not reciprocated. Plan a date, and invite the person on it. Try to make it clear you have romantic intentions, even if it’s scary, and they will either be interested in you or not. It’s okay to slowly build up by flirting or casually hanging out, but eventually you’ll have to make the ever-daunting first move. The best part of having a crush is learning things about them and weighing if the risk of failure is worth the reward of a brand spanking new relationship. Maybe you’ll even fall in love! Enter this new stage of flirtationship with an open mind, and try to pick up on the clues they give you. Do they swipe up on your instagram stories? Are they open to hanging out one-on-one? Does it seem like they are flirting back with you? Those are the cues to follow, not checking to see if you’re astrologically compatible. 

Dr. Self-Criticism: I agree, but I think it’s worth taking the gemini-ness into account. Geminis can be flaky, easy to agree to plans and overcommit, eager to please people in the moment at the risk of disappointing later. With this in mind, make it easy for your gemini—make the plan, invite them, and make sure to follow up. In this case, a double (or even triple) text is not out of pocket.

Dear Tender Comrades, 

I’m new to Portland and it’s hard out there meeting people either socially or to organize with. I’ve been a member of DSA for a while, mostly just paying dues,  but I want to get involved now that I live in a place that’s this small.  How do I build connections with other queer socialists for friendship? How do I decide what projects to commit myself to? 

In solidarity,

New in Town

Dr. Self-Criticism: Spring is the worst season to feel socially isolated, especially in a place that totally comes alive with the long days and warm weather. It can be very hard to find a social home, let alone a political one when our culture and communities are so intentionally fractured by the ruling class. So don’t feel alone or let your loneliness spiral: it’s hard for everyone and the bosses want it that way. The more separated we are, the more vulnerable we are to exploitation and violence in all forms. Case in point, even in a city as out and queer as Portland, we really only have three expressly queer bars and not a single good place to meet new friends or lovers during the daytime and without alcohol. 

So, where to make friends? Where to find comrades? I’ve noticed that I often meet the best friends and build the strongest relationships from mere exposure. They’re the people that I already spend the most time with: classmates and coworkers. Not everyone you study or work with will be your cup of tea, but find the one or two people you seem to connect with the best and move intentionally to build a relationship with them. Ask them to coffee, to art walk, to breakfast, or for a bike ride! In the best case, you’ve made a new pal, in the worst case, you can mark them down as a five on your spreadsheet and move on to the next potential natural leader for your organizing committee.

Mx. Criticism: Definitely agree with Dr. Self-Criticism here—I’m relatively new to the city, and have moved back and forth a couple times. Everytime I’m back I feel the yearn for a deeper and more intimate community. To be honest, I’ve met most of my friends and comrades, at work or through other mutual friends. I tend to be the first person at a new job to invite people over for dinner or out for drinks because so much important community building and organizing happens in the workplace. What’s so beneficial about organizing with your coworkers is the proximity you have to others face-to-face. You learn about people’s interests, struggles, and everything in between in one eight hour shift. This is especially true to my fellow service industry folks because who amongst us has not bonded over a shift beer or juicy customer gossip.  

But I will point out that an issue arises here if you work alone or work from home because those organic relationships can be harder to find. My suggestion is to start by finding the causes you care about, and you might find that a lot of people are already working on them. Reach out, show that you’re interested, and help us start building the world we want to see! Find alternative ways to meet people in person, even if that means hanging out at the community garden or going to queer led events. Once you make connections with a couple people, the rest tend to follow. Infiltrate those friendship groups! The gay bar scene may be rough, but there are so many community leaders hosting smaller and more thoughtful events than a viewing of RuPaul’s Drag Race. 

Dr. Self-Criticism: Yep. Some of the strongest connections I made upon moving back to Portland were through mutual aid volunteer work during the worst months of the COVID pandemic. But you don’t need an acute crisis to make friends: there’s always bike party, sunday DIY baseball, and having an extra smoke to share at the back of a demonstration.

Mx. Criticism: Grace Lee Boggs says “Movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass”—so put yourself out there. We have a world to win! 

Love and solidarity, 

Tender Comrades