I Kicked the Can that Spilled the Trust.


Photography by Rebecca Anne Dreiling

I was programmed from birth, that my worth need be validated by men. 2 years into my life as an out queer person, while navigating a long distance relationship with a woman, I found myself seduced by the attention of a boy. It was a particularly insecure and lonely period for me. I went to the well I knew. A man. I succumbed. I asked for a break in my relationship.

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I’d been warned that this boy was abusive, defended him against accusations that he had done harm to others. The reflex to abandon oneself in in the name of preserving one’s alignment with a person of influence/power runs deep. I will be making amends and retraining survival instincts and the idea that proximity to powerful men is what makes me valuable for the rest of my life.

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Queerness, and the perceived wishy washy sexual orientation of bisexuals is far more complex than indecisiveness or a tendency toward cheating. The confusion I experienced was about who I would be if I no longer relied on validation from those who have controlled women’s sexuality, finances, and safety for far longer than I have been on this earth.

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While skinny dipping one night in Italy with my then girlfriend, a drunk man called out to us wanting to join. He made his way down to the water and we exited. I instinctively wedged a cork screw between my knuckles to protect us from the potential predator. I felt empowered and also felt an alien kind of responsibility in the role of protector from within my female body. For me, this is the brand of confusion that resonates.

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I spilled the trust in my relationship - not from an inability to love my partner, but an inability to love myself free of male validation. As a feminist, this is hard for me to admit. It is taxing to step out of the roles assigned to us. Mistakes I made in early queerness yielded a painful and necessary shedding of identity and gender roles. Forgiving myself for the collateral damage caused by my actions and inactions in those years is an ongoing process. It’s in sharing these complex components of queerness with one another that we heal.

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