This painting is like seasons 1-6 from Sex and the City for me. But more like Who Am I and the City. It’s the first installment in a season of paintings I’ve named “XYZ” – let’s start there.
Up until I met my first boyfriend, I really truly believed I was a lesbian and I was devastated by that. I grew up Catholic, went to a Catholic/private/all girl school in El Salvador, lived in a third world country, had family that was very devoted to God, nuns would yell at me daily for lesser “sins”, I was generally insecure and desperate for approval. It was just not an ideal situation. Growing up Catholic made you feel pretty embarrassed for being who I was, whether that was being irreverent, a little different or not straight. It tortured me for a long time, and even when I found a boyfriend I wondered if I was doing it for the approval. People who I get close to sometimes ask me that because of how much sad shame those memories bring me when talking about it – for denying myself to be myself. It would make sense that I wanted the easy way out.
Time came to move to the US. At first I felt relief: that I would leave behind my shame and maybe have an opportunity to start over in a whole new world (at this point I feel like I still believed you had to exit the stratosphere to reach any place outside of El Salvador). But then, it made me sad that I would leave behind this part of me that felt the truest to who I was. I had girls that would venture with me in this confusing time and it would be confidential between us. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t find someone who was just as ashamed of it as I was that they would be with me but still keep quiet. What a weird place to be at when you’re 12 years old.
Of course, I wasn’t even a teen, I shouldn’t have even had my head stuck on dating anyone, regardless of gender. But I was a curious kid who wanted nothing more. I watched a lot of Caroline in the City back then, and I had developed a thing for feminine white boys. Maybe I just wasn’t into Latino boys? I didn’t know but this white boy was cute and I was rampant on having a cute “My Girl” situation contrived into my life story.
Probably one of the most embarrassing moments of my life happened with this first boy crush (didn’t help the “maybe I’m straight” situation). I didn’t have a lot of friends but I had a lot of bullies. I made one true friend in 7th grade, I’m pretty sure her name was Esther, which is weird cause she’s the queen right after my namesake Vashti is murdered. I told her I had a crush on this kid, she told him, he said he wanted to see who I was, he came to see who I was, he saw who I was… he ran away without saying a word. He was a cold motherfucker.
It hurt… a lot.