It almost feels like a lifetime ago when I was sitting on the computer in my parents home connecting with the gays through the internet. I was chatting with queers from the other side of the country in neon green and bright purple so I would stand out. We had communities within this social network and groups that helped define our queerness. There were chat rooms that started personal conversations and personal connections that translated outside of the interweb. It seems quite nerdy to admit I use to be so excited about Downelink but this was the space for my small town closeted heart to feel seen. I learned about myself by learning from others. In this space, I met the first person who identified as androgynous and genderqueer. My best friend and I met trans people which helped me not look so green when I moved to Chicago where the queer scene is diverse. I felt experienced when I honestly was not. Believe it or not, there was once a space in the social networking world for the LGBTQ community and just for us.
I remember a few years ago when my best friend, Joshua, and I were discussing how we met and when we went searching for this site, that may or may not have brought us together, there was nothing to be found. I don’t know what made me think of this site in 2018, where gay spaces on social networking sites are present yet here I am reminiscing of a time long forgotten. Separate sites aren’t needed anymore, thanks to Tumblr and the use of hashtags, connecting with queers is easier. It’s still hard but do we need our own dot com or is finding space on existing sites enough?
Did I mention, Downelink was very POC friendly? I often think I was just living in my narrow bubble. I'm sure one day someone will tell me Downelink was very white. If you plan on bursting my bubble - Don’t! Well if that was the case, there was enough of Downelink where I wasn’t once again swallowed by whiteness. All I can remember is seeing Black and Brown bodied queers living their best lives. Oh gosh I met so many women in person from Downelink. Such amazing women whom I am still connected and like I said, the verdict is still out if Josh and I met through Downelink.
Now I’m here trying to tell my girlfriend about what this site looked like. I know I’m not doing it justice in explaining how amazing this site was for me. I wish she realized her queerness earlier in life so we could travel down memory lane together. She will never know like children born today will never know what it’s like to download music illegally from Limeware or having to get off the phone to use the internet. If you can’t tell I’m have a nostalgic moment.
I hear of a relaunch of this utopia-gay site but to be honest, I have no intention on going back. I am not a fan of resurrecting things that have died. I am very much on the side of letting a dead dog lie. Tell the creators of The L Word I feel the same about that shit. That show was so flawed, I have doubts they will get it right the second time. Let it be so we can appreciate the memories. Downelink will never be what it was for me. I am a little curious George, so I might take a peak and then I’ll cry because it isn’t the same. I’m sentimental; it’s either just like it was before or it shouldn’t be at all.
Tell me I’m not alone: Am I the only one who remembers Downelink?
Erma BreAnn is a poet, writer, blogger, and content creator. They are the creator of Bougie, Bad, and Bitchie. They focus on living as a young Black Woman and a QPOC. Their work can be found in the 11th and 12th editions of the Garland Court Review as well as curlynikki.com. Originally from the south, you may find them working and living a bougie life in Chicago.