Allegory Of The Closet

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I was away to the Homeland for some time, busy sponging waves of human drama but not forgetting about my own.

I was told that Mother Earth is currently shifting energies, transitioning from yin to yang (or the other way around) which explains the series of catastrophes, diseases and fights since the beginning of the year.

Don’t we all magnetically feel an impending change coming? There may be hope for better tomorrows.

I am initiating my deep changes as well. OK, I say that all the time. But right now, I swear it is different.

I am feeling at a similar stage of my life as back in the summer of 2009. When my nerves broke. I often think about that episode. It’s the period of time when I finally got the courage to bury and mourn for my heterosexuality. I had to endure a nervous breakdown to officially come out of the closet.

I fucked a boy for the last time in the Spring of that year, the week that I started my internship as a cultural journalist. I was 25. He was a tango teacher from Columbia wearing Hawaiian shirts. It ended in my blood. After that, I buried myself in work around the clock and became the shadow of myself. At least, I wasn’t thinking. My subconscious – or some mysterious spiritual forces – started manifesting, though.

A very visceral and deep structural change operated in my guts despite myself. I was harassed by homoerotic dreams after seeing Sunshine Cleaning, an American indie movie. There was this party scene where the so desirable Emily Blunt wears a candy necklace. A girl eats from her neck. Oh man. I remember the shiver in my body in the obscurity of the cinema. I wanted to be the girls on screen. All the gay people in the world have their cult homoerotic scenes, the ones that triggered their own desire. (Ask around, it’s a funny game). I have 3: the sweet derrière of Mylène Farmer in the clip of Pourvu qu’elles soient douces (I was 7)Cécile de France in L’Auberge espagnole (I was 19) and the inénarrable Emily Blunt.

I am grateful that my desire finally grew stronger than my will.

With all the messy changes in my core and my broken nerves in the background, I got close to a girl I was working with. She was more or less at the same stage of her lesbian life as me. We were talking more and more about our doubts and desires during our evening shifts at the sublime and posh concert hall Salle Pleyel. The night before I flew to Toronto for my American summer tour, I made her sleep over at mine after my leaving party where we all ended up in our underwear. Everyone left and I don’t know how I made her stay. Then, I made the first move. I clearly remember the moment when she opened my lips to kiss me. Something flowed in my brain. Her tongue swept away all the remnants of the heterosexual preconceptions that I had of myself. She uprooted my certitudes and moved them to Lesboland.

I left to the Americas in the morning with a 9 week adventure ahead of me. I needed to digest my new identity far away from my mother tongue.

That’s funny, I saw that girl again last week. We remained good friends. She’s getting married in July to her girlfriend and is hoping to be pregnant by the end of the year. She picked the same wedding dress as her fiancée without knowing. As for me, I fuck coke addicts in cars and explore the world on my own. Everything’s at the right place. Our intimate worlds only collided that one night, and it was great that way.

Six years have gone by and I am again on the verge of a nervous breakdown of a different kind. How many times do I have to collapse to reach my true colours? I’m feeling the urge of a new coming out, as strong as the sexual one. I want my deep identity to explode to the face of the world. I believe I am a closeted creative soul and I’m ashamed to say that I want my life to be about that.

There’s something taboo in the action of creating something, because the result only exists in the eye of whoever will watch and like you, and I hate begging for attention. I like being liked, but I don’t want to do anything at all to make people like me. It doesn’t interest me to chase love and recognition. If you like me, good for you, but if you don’t, I won’t try one bit to convince you.

This is how I am a closeted creative girl.

Every single one of my skin pores is sweating for change though, and I am close to implosion, as if my creativity needed to get laid by the right person. I can’t think of a better image. Sex & creation are pretty much the same struggle.

Anyway, everything changes all the time and my life constantly bounces like a kangaroo, but there is one element of steadiness. A recurrent question burns my thoughts till obsession.

Who’s going to love me body & soul? And above all, who’s going to love my brain?

Photos by me (check out that framing!)

1. Grave of Mme Troboa Murcella Asskari (1970-1994) at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris 2. ‘Trying to be Frida’ by artist Emilio Lopez-Menchero 3. Altered Image I by Deborah Kass (copy of a picture of Andy Warhol dressed as a girl) 4. Evelyn, the cat I live with 5. Simona, a lady I met at the Bull Dog in Brighton. We had the same coat and the same earrings. 6. Anonymous street art in East London 7. Billie Holiday in 1948 photographed by William P. Gottlieb 8. Summer, a cat who lived at my house for a month but left today because she was mean to Evelyn 9. Transgender Miss in Latin America 10. Collection of Jesus statues at my neighbours’ who got them from a movie set they worked on

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The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#3 : The Bathtub

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That’s in the bathtub that we lost the battle.

It was in the spring of 2012, May or June.

We were soaking in hot waters. A couple of girls and a couple of candles.

It was supposed to be an enjoyable moment. But she brought up the sword-of-Damocles subject that I knew was hanging above my head since the first day of our common life.

Her parents wanted to come and visit in the fall, and it would therefore be very welcome if I was so very kind to plan myself a little 2-week holiday to evacuate the premises of my own home.

(The parents were told I was a boy).

We finally had hit the wall. We had gracefully managed to work our story around it for already 2 years. The state of grace was over.

I can’t remember any of my words. I can’t even remember what I thought.

I only remember diving underneath the water and not wanting to come back to the surface cause we’d have to finish this conversation.

But I soon got out of breath and emerged to articulate something like of course, I understand, I want you to have quality time with your parents, I am just a fucking dyke they don’t deserve to witness this, and you are a dyke too by the way, but yes that’s hard to admit, yes, only fair, yes, old generation, yes yes, let me just take a map of the world and put my finger on a random country and I’ll book tickets and it will be as if I had never existed.

Where is the line between compromise and self-bashing? When do we know what’s acceptable and what’s excruciating?  Should I have grabbed her hair and maintain her head under the water for a minute or two so she knew how I was feeling? Should I have walked out of the bathtub without even rinsing the foam off my body to pack my things and never come back?

It would have exploded if I had said no, so I said yes and it exploded anyway. Only difference is that we agonised for a year.

I’ve paid for my lack of courage. But I’ve never found what I could have done or said that day to prevent the explosion. It wasn’t in my power anyway. This was never my story.

On the map, my finger had landed on Iceland, so off I went alone to Reykjavik, which has since then become my spiritual retreat.

The purity of the Icelandic air burnt my lungs the first time I ever breathed it. I wandered Iceland alone under these disturbing circumstances. One day, I sat on a bench near the duck lake in the town centre. I wanted to enjoy the last rays of sun. I started thinking of what was happening in my London home at this instant.

I thought of the naked walls from which all my pictures and personal traces had been washed away – too feminine, too queer, too me. I thought of my clothes and shoes stuffed in bin bags and hidden behind a trapdoor above the same bathtub where it had all begun. I cried on all the ducks of Reykjavik that day, and she was calling me to help her cook a béchamel for her parents over the phone.

It is the most wounding feeling in the world to know that your existence has been clinically wiped out.

Picture borrowed from the wonderful I’m a Fucking Unicorn page. 

The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#5 : The Centimetres

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We were home one night. Or one day.

She was on our bed, setting up to skype with her parents. She was always skyping with her parents and I never was. This is how we were respectively brought up. I respect both schemes.

She was always briefing me before her parental interactions, even after 3 years together, when the rules were so ingrained in me that I wouldn’t even have the distance to judge them right or wrong. This is how things were. She always had to mention: “I am calling my parents. Don’t speak.” Just in case I would all of a sudden decide to squeeze next to her and wave at the webcam to introduce myself: “What’s up in-laws! Nice to meet you! I am the one screwing your daughter!” 

I regret not doing it. I would have freed them all from a huge weight, and at least I would have given them a good reason to hate me, cause for all I know they had none. It would have been a cult coming out scene. I can be such a docile girl when it comes to affection.

In these recurrent occasions, I was like an elephant in my own house, because they subconsciously knew about me. Of course they knew. It takes tremendous organisation and concentration (and hypocrisy) from all parties to ignore something that big over so many years. They had an implicit agreement not to look at the elephant too closely to keep their wonderful family unity. If someone had to be beheaded for the unity to keep up, it had to be me.

The voice of her parents grew familiar to me as years went by. I was hearing it all the time. But I only ever saw their face in picture. I could catch fragments of their hellenic conversations. I could tell when they were talking about me, all declined in the masculine version. Her mum was nicknaming me “Parlez-vous”, most likely because she knew it was fucking nonsense to refer to me with my made-up male name.

This whole theatre piece was sickening. Over the years, not only was I exponentially suffering from my nothingness status, but I gradually lost respect for her. I even ended up despising her intellectually.

I have never met any other couple – gay or not – in a similar situation. I don’t know any closeted gays who live with their partner. It just can’t work out between 2 people who are at different stages or their coming out process. It is mathematical.

That particular day, she was getting ready for the family performance. She checked the background behind her to make sure there was no queerish hint. She stopped, looked at the poster of the sublime blonde woman on the wall. I had brought it back to her from my solitary Icelandic journey. It was the poster of an exhibition that I had seen at the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, a series of portraits of contemporary Icelandic women taken by Berglind Björnsdóttir.

She must have judged the sublime blonde too tendencious. She moved the poster up on the wall – literally 3 centimetres up. I was observing her in silence, fascinated in a bad way. I was trying to be in her head at that precise moment. What were her criteria to evaluate what was suspicious or not? How had she developed so many strategies in 15 years of her gay life to know what could betray her secret? Did she really believe that the 3 centimetres up or down the wall had the power to change the course of her life?

This is where my lost love was spending her plan making energy. Evaluating the centimetres to organise her cover and mine. Whilst she was measuring and micro-managing the practical details of her double life, how could she ever have time to think of happier questions such as:  What do I really want to achieve? Do I love my life? What is meaningful to me? Do I want to be with her, or do I want to be like her? If we ever decide to have the family we’ve been talking about, how are we going to proceed? Stuff like that. The regular legitimate late 20s stuff. Not moving a fucking poster an inch up the wall cause there’s a woman on it.

This entire chapter of my life was so fucked up. I am grateful that I stepped out of it with no serious damage but a bruised soul and a devastated heart. I really would have had reasons to hit my head against the wall.

I will never grant to anyone the power to make me sink.

Picture by Berglind Björnsdóttir