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Get Onboard with Sophie Santos’s Lesbian Agenda

Sophie Santos is a queer comedian, TV writer and host of the show The Lesbian Agenda. But not too long ago, her sole ambition in life was to be a southern housewife before she graduated college. How she managed such a drastic transformation is explored in her upcoming memoir The One You Want to Marry (And Other Identities I’ve Had), available October 1st.

Santos grew up as a “Spanish-Filipino army brat” in communities that she describes as “99.6 percent white,” according to an exclusive from The Advocate. This meant that she had to learn how to adapt to her surroundings and make friends quickly. “I couldn’t afford to be shy,” she says. “It was sink or swim.”

This impulse stuck with her years later when she attended the University of Alabama. “I joined a sorority mainly because my mom forced me to,” she recalls. “By the time I got to college, I had been to…10 schools? Being part of sorority life was like CliffsNotes—it was the literal playbook of how to make friends.”

While the sorority life provided her with a number of seemingly stable and easy friendships, these came with unexpected social pressures. She explains: “While it wasn’t explicitly stated, I noticed that everyone was fixated on getting what I would learn was their ‘MRS’ degree—their ‘Missus’ degree. Our sorority was literally nicknamed ‘The Ones You Want to Marry.’ The goal was to be engaged by the age of 22.”

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Her dream group of friends soon began to resemble a cult. Each year there would be a ceremony in which her sorority sisters would sit in a circle holding candles, and one by one they would take turns describing their ideal marriage proposal. For Santos, a closeted lesbian at this point, her picture of a southern fairytale romance was looking less Gone With the Wind and more ‘A Rose For Emily.’

Santos then embarked on a quest to make honest men out of the “beer-soaked” frat-boys at her college. Being a lesbian of course, this was doomed to failure, and the stress was starting to get to her. She describes: “The pressure of finding a lifelong gentleman caller, wearing heels and dresses to football games because it was pretty much required, and trying to learn all of the sorority’s 50,000 rules, I broke down, naturally. Then when I was at my weakest, I went to work for the summer at Wellesley College. That’s when my life flipped upside down.”

That summer sparked the transformative years that make up much of her memoir’s content. In the end, she says, “I don’t think I had a choice other than to become a queer comedian after being a Southern belle sorority girl.”

Santos concludes with some much needed advice for her younger self: “You know yourself better than anyone else does. Just keep doing you,” she says. “Also, know that any feeling of discomfort is temporary. You most likely will never see any of these people again, so if you fall on your face, it’s OK. And maybe write down the moment you fall on your face because that shit will be gold one day.”

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