So there’s been that magically random one night stand with a Viking at the end of September. The day after, I left Iceland in a daze. I realised on the plane that was taking me back to Paris that the ring which I inherited from my Grandmother-the-Witch wasn’t around my middle finger any more. I searched my belongings ten times and moved earth and heaven to track it back but I eventually surrendered to the bitter reality : the sacred ring had vowed to remain in Iceland.
It was an Art Deco style ring with a rectangle green stone. The monetary value wasn’t huge, but my Grandmother bought it in the 40s with her first salary as a teacher. I love that it was her independent woman ring which she chose for herself, and not a jewel that somebody got her. That’s the meaning that I had granted to that object : “Go get what you want for yourself in this life”. That ring had been everywhere with me since my Grandmother passed away in 2015. It utterly felt like a shamanic power bank in challenging times. I wonder if anyone is wearing it now, if it is exposed to breathtaking views of the world? I was sad for a few days, then I decided that this misfortune had opened an invisible corridor for all the magic which occurred in Iceland to follow me to the Motherland.
And magic kept occurring indeed.
October 16th was the opening night at the contemporary art centre where I work. It was a Monday. That night, my forever friend ε introduced me to her friend π. π is as tiny as I am, she’s Colombian and she’s a dancer like me. We instantly got along and drunk wine till the bar of the art centre closed. We realised that we were hand twins: our fingers have exactly the same size. π put the ring that she was wearing around my finger saying I was the only one who could ever fit in it. It felt like an odd contemporary Cinderella moment. That was our bounding. I was ready to live up the night full of promises, with a new purple ring on my vacant finger.
π, ε & myself started walking the street of Paris. It was after 1am. The autumn night was warm. We were hugged by the city lights and the silent luxury of the posh neighbourhoods. As we were heading towards the Champs-Elysées, we passed the Plazza Athénée 5* Hotel. We started chatting up the security guy because we were in a flamboyant mood. Nothing could resist us. The dude let us in the entrance hall. We sneaked in like kids. It was funny, although I don’t like rich people places. Why do they want to rub pricey stuff all over my face? Marble and chandeliers are overrated.
We continued our adventure. We were just walking, walking, walking. We aimed towards the Crillon which is the poshest hotel of the city. Our fabulousness scored again: the security agent exceptionally allowed us to use the toilets. We crossed the awfully decorated salons like tourists. I must say that it was the coolest pee I’ve ever taken. We didn’t want to ever leave that bathroom which felt like our suite for a moment. We improvised a photo shoot, using the fresh flowers on the sink as impromptu crowns for our ephemeral glory. That terribly long pee break started being suspicious, but the security guy told us to come back anytime.
We then tried our luck at the Ritz, but the lady at the entrance didn’t like us. We kept walking, trying to figure out our next destination. It was about 3am at that stage. We were aimlessly wandering around Châtelet when we caught up a group of three guys on the pavement. They were talking about the Banana Café, so I turned to them because the Banana Café is a haut lieu of the Parisian gay night life. I thought that they couldn’t be entirely bad if they had queer references. So I started talking to them about my former nights at the Banana Café like referring to the high times of a past century. Our groups organically merged. That night didn’t make any sense in an awesome way and we were all happy to be alive. There was so much joy in the air. The boys were looking for a bar that would be still open. ε, who has the best tricks, tips, addresses, connections and human networks of Paris, obviously led the way to Le Connétable.
It was a bit of a walk which I spent talking with a nice guy from Ivory Coast. Everything he was saying or doing was cracking me up. He was confused about how old he was soon going to turn and he was walking in his socks on the pavement because his €750 tailor-made shoes were hurting his feet. I laughed at him all night. He was saying hello to strangers on the street. We talked a lot. It felt comfortable.
We all stayed at Le Connétable till dawn and met more people. As the daylight was breaking, I gave the nice guy my number because he asked for it. Just-like-that-why-not-I-don’t-know-I-didn’t-have-anything-special-in-mind-nor-any-opinion-regarding-what-will-happen-next.
Two days later, he invited me to join him and his friends for a drink. I first said “No thanks I am tired” before changing my mind because my desire to live hard had been awoken in Iceland. We ended up in an Ivorian canteen in the north of Paris. I was the only white in the place (I LOVED it). I was feeling right at home. Everyone was talking to me. They even got me an Ivorian name.
Afterwards… That’s easy. I got on a taxi with the boy and I offered him to sleep on my couch because he lives in the suburb. But the couch turned into my bed in less than fifteen minutes. And that was it.
Since then, we’ve been seeing each other again, and again and again. We see each other all the time. I struggled a lot with myself the first couple of weeks. I had to tame myself on how to be intimate with a boy. Learning to be perceived as “straight” for the first time of my history. Learning about people who address to him and not to me like I am suddenly invisible or under guardianship. My friends say that straight or gay or queer doesn’t matter, that the only important thing is to love a person etc., but this is not true.
Of course the gender of who you sleep/love/make out with does matter and determines some of your social dynamics, status and privileges. I am not saying this is right, I am not saying I can’t cope, I am just saying that it does. Of course I remain queer at heart, but the way people perceive us does shape us, so my shape is inevitably going to change and it has nothing to do with being afraid of losing myself.
Since teenage, I’ve built my whole identity – and therefore, my entire life – around going against the norm and asserting myself through that channel. Being queer opened me so many intellectual and sensitive doors. It shaped how I apprehend the world. Always feeling on the side of the regular workings of the world, being a loner most of the time. Being queer definitely enhanced my appetite for movement, for the arts, for anything that wasn’t verbal, but heartfelt. I think I would be 20% of myself if I hadn’t been queer. It’s been my chance to have a more interesting and intense life, because I screwed the beaten path from an early age. I didn’t waste a ton of time trying to conform. I don’t know how to think with the mind of the norm. I don’t worry about it, I am just saying that I don’t know how and that I already feel frictions inside and around me for not knowing some of the implicit gender codes I have been missing out all my life.
I’m also learning extra fast about the consequences, after-effects and mechanisms of colonialism, neo-colonialism and racism. All that side of discrimination is entirely new to me. I already foresee that it won’t be easy at times. We’ll have to fight and resist a lot of prejudices, fantasies, ignorance and social straitjackets. Is the world seriously stuck there? I had a giant meltdown when I understood that it is indeed. The good news is, I’ve grown pretty good at resisting bullshit. Look. I’ve survived misogyny, poverty, heartbreaks, lesbophobia and transphobia. I really don’t think that racism can get to me. It is odd though to see that people look at us on the street or in the underground, because we are black & white intertwining. There’s no hatred or animosity so far. But people are looking. I know that look. It’s the exact same look I used to feel on me and my girlfriends. People are curious and fascinated, because lesbian is still subversive, transgender is still subversive, black & white is still subversive.
I’ve started reading Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon to get some intellectual backup and emotional support on post-colonialism and racism issues. It is opening my eyes on so many topics that I’ve been privileged enough to mostly ignore all my life.
In the meantime, I am still wearing the purple ring which π passed on my finger that magical night. She gave it to me.