Growing up in the nineties as a girl secretly loving girls was a challenging journey to navigate. I only verbally shared my secret with one person, the only girl in high school that I secretly loved, my best friend, Steph.
When I became old enough to dress, I chose jeans over dresses, and It was clear that I was not your typical girly girl. I was a proud tomboy.
The first time I heard the word DYKE, I was in junior high at a Subway Sandwich shop with a friend who shared in a sarcastic voice that her mom called me a Bull Dyke. I did not know what that word meant, but I knew it was terrible. I quickly denied such accusations and later privately looked up the word in the dictionary. A Dyke is " a lesbian of masculine appearance or manner."
I thought to myself, what is a lesbian? I quickly scanned the pages of my dictionary to the L section and hunted for the word lesbian and read a Lesbian is "A woman who is sexually or romantically attracted exclusively to other women; a gay woman." After my eyes and mind collected what I had just read. I was furious that I had been called such a thing!
My body was hot, and my heart had sunken. Deep down, I had come to acknowledge what could be my future. I had not yet kissed a boy or thought of kissing anyone. My days as a free-spirited tomboy were over. I was angry; I was confused,and I was alone.
I spent the next several years with this secret buried deep down, trying to make sense of it. My first kiss was a boy, and my first sexual experience was a boy, but neither represented a moment that meant anything. It was not until after High School did I explore meaningful relationships with women. I fell in love and was loved back.
My first real girlfriend was older, and looking back, we were not suitable for each other, but our options were so few, and I am so happy I fell hard and moved to San Francisco with her because I would of probably never left my home town and ended up married to a man. I took a chance on myself, and I took a chance on love.
Today I say the word Dyke and Lesbian with pride. I know my generation of queers fought for their rights to love during a time when love like ours was not discussed in schools, seen in the media, and celebrated like today. I'm deeply thankful for those who paved the way before my time which was even harder to be out and queer. One could be arrested and placed in an institution for the insane and so much more.
This next body of work I am working on allows me to pay homage to their sails and acknowledge the storms they traveled to love the person they loved. I look deep into these vintage photos and find myself inspired by their love and humanness.
Please let me know what you think. I am interested in what you see and what the images bring up for you as well.
May you continue to be inspired, and may you be well,
The Paper Boat Den