“ I believe in freedom, but not too much.” With a long drawl and deep sincerity my father would saunter and slide this statement like butter. His favourite motto was as diverse and adoptable as my fashion style and his moral convictions. With assuredness and a lack of irony he assured me that freedom could have a limit and that others set boundaries.
I laughed at his words but embodied his teachings. I unknowingly blindfolded myself with patriarchal understandings of love and white inadequacy. Running towards boys and drunkenly kissing girls in the name of pleasure. I was a lonely desperate person. Until I asked myself “Do I like myself?” My reflection bawled its no.
I learnt very young, that my body belonged to someone else and as I grew up, I realised the world was a relentless teacher in the same lesson. My life was based on denial and compromise. I had denied my queerness since age 7; I had denied my familial pain and shame since age 10, I had denied and compromised on my sexuality since age 15 and I had had denied and repressed my rape since age 18. I had denied everything that made me “too much” and it made me a sufferable amount of nothing to myself. I decided then that I needed to choose myself.
In 2018, I told my mother I was queer, I moved to a new country, I started my first committed relationship with a woman and I made my first film. By early 2019, I was estranged from every member of my family. I was broke and isolated, heartbroken and an incomplete film, but I was not full of regret. I was hopeful because I could feel my heart for the first time. So everything else just needed to catch up.
In 2020, I planned to sashay through this year with glitter boots, cowrie shell necklaces and self-affirming affirmations and you know what happens next. I was back to being alone, confused and desperate. I needed to swim even when I wanted to drown.
I died with a dream. An endless stream of possibilities and depths became available to me. I took a deep breath and I let go, letting the monsters and mermaids swim through.
I thought I knew self-love. This was my first mistake and my first lesson after my death. I humbled myself, in my lack of knowledge but began trusting my gut, my heart, and my soul. My boundaries were my own. My body became a home.
I understood these things
- Shape shifters know death.
- Water is memory.
- I am possibility.
- The ocean is my mother.
I am a being of water. I am movement that is unknown, although I am close. I roar in the night and glimmer in the day. I am filled with wonder and I do not care for the human eye, but I value their presence and their life.
I feel most beautiful when I am ravenous tides and gentle waves. When I accept the change. I am all of my names, all of my bodies, all of dreams; I am gulping the air with my heart as my key.
The majestic Eartha Kitt famously said “When you fall in love, what is there to compromise about?” and so I ask myself why should I settle for being “too much” when I can be the most.
Photography by K/A