[45houses.com // john klukas photography]
i’ve always despised labels when associated with people. they make me cringe. i don’t even like when people ask me where i’m from. it’s like my identity is at the mercy of whatever stereotype they have formed about americans or people who were born in massachusetts, or people who were raised in the atlanta, or people who move to los angeles — and of course — i’ve been at the mercy of whatever stereotypes people have associated around people with my skin complexion, people who are gender fluid, women of color, and women. it can be a mind fuck.
labels and categories are boxes that have always been difficult for me and at times have made me very uncomfortable. i’ve felt self conscious, wondering if i would be accepted, afraid that i didn’t fit the mold, concerned that i would be put on a pedestal, fearful that i would be outcasted, ostracized, judged, hated. i’ve felt paranoid and on the edge of insanity. i was overly concerned about the fact that i felt like i didn’t fit anywhere.
i would be proactive about everything. analyzing my own thoughts before i said them to possibly forecast all the ways that what i said could be perceived. i wanted to be understood and i wanted people to feel good around me. i wanted to connect with people. i wanted people to like me. i thought “how could this happen if my thoughts make people uncomfortable? how can i connect with people, if they think i’m a fucking weirdo?”
the world we live in creates this dynamic where many of us feel like who we are isn’t good enough because we are not deemed normal or ideal. some assimiliate. some try to flee society. there are so many paths in between; each path with its loopholes and each path with its challenges.
i knew this as a child somehow. i was so confused as a young girl. the concept of normalcy taunted me. haunted me. consumed me at times. i didn’t know which path to take. i just knew that i wanted to feel good about life but i didn’t know if i would chose the “right” path.
my neighborhood friends were popular and super into boys in elementary school. they were forming crushes and wearing lip gloss. i was tall, slim, had dimples, and a bra size. i had to like boys too, right? of course, i HAD to want their attention. i had some of what society brainwashes us to identify as desirable physical traits. my neighborhood friends would play fortune telling games to predict who they would marry and what kind of house they would have. i just wanted to ride my bike, watch cartoons, eat cereal, and read goosebumps. yet, i tried to affiliate with something that didn’t exactly align with who i felt i was, as many people do.
despite my attempt at oblivion, i remember at a young age feeling very misunderstood. not only was i not boy crazy, i had this infatuation with the human body, specifically the female body — my body. i would sit in front of my full length mirror, lock the door and explore myself with intrigue. i grew this appreciation for my body at a young age. in hindsight, it was innocent but in the mind of my father, i was sick. my father’s discovery of my adoration provoked him to give me a beating so horrific that i had to sit in a bathtub filled with chilled water and ice to soothe the bruises and welps. the teachers at school noticed. child protective services warranted a protective order from my father. a child psychologist said i needed therapy. my grandmother wondered how to show me love. my grandmother’s sister proclaimed i was a lesbian. i wanted to die. i was 10.
misconceptions, labels, categories, stereotypes have really fucked me over. it caused me to have some dark thoughts and i experienced gender violence at an early age because i didn’t behave in a way my father understood. he didn’t know how to love me and my love for myself began to be in question and in jeopardy.
the abuse i received began with my father, continued with the world, and ended with a past lover, keenan uriah girard, whose demons sent me to the emergency room. he had an evil inside of him that i hope he has overcome. it is an evil that i can never forget or forgive. it is an evil that i have learned to accept that exists in the world. it is an evil that i will never sacrifice myself again to try to understand. it is an evil that i will never empathize with. it is an evil so horrific that the people who possess it should not be considered human. it is an evil that makes monsters of life. it is an evil that i hope dies within itself, never to manifest again, never to be able to disguise itself again. it is an evil that i burdened myself to protect until now…