I’ll never forget when I said this to a close friend: a stripper saved my life. Her ears perked up, waiting for the tall tale of a stripper throwing bad ass moves to protect me from some oncoming danger…
I’ll admit from the get-go, it wasn’t a volunteered heroism. There were no fists thrown, dirty words, flailing hair, or tassels. It was much simpler than that. In fact, she saved me from afar, having never known she’d done so.
Before I let you in on that little adventure, I think I best share a brief history about myself and why the Quean exists today.
If you haven’t already read my bio, I recommend you check it out!
My First Love
I’ve spent my entire life writing. The mere act of it releases something in me that I have yet to describe accurately in words. Shonda Rhimes describes this happening – this feeling – as her hum, Hemingway called it bleeding into the typewriter. I can relate to both. Writing is my first love.
Why do I bring this up? Because I recall once, my parents finding my journals. One journal in particular had mature details of women who seduced and looked to be seduced. For a teenage girl who’d only experienced sex with herself, the writing was quite vivid, quite…good. My father, who I admire deeply, pulled me aside one day to speak about these writings. Regardless of the wrath I was expecting to have inflicted on me due to my “inappropriate” literature, he said, “You should create a pen name, and write professionally.” That was the first kind of permission I received for my “smut.” My sexual imagination accepted.
Growing Up in a Man’s World
When I started having relationships, everything changed. Gaining real experience left my writing colourless. Reading back to this time (yes, I kept everything!) I can trace the dimming of my light. It seems the moment love and partnered sex entered my life, the inconsolable, unapologetic flame that lived so ferociously within me was suddenly extinguished. Why? I finally learned what it meant to be a woman in a man’s world.
It was a place that defined me, even before I could do so for myself. As a result, I slowly withdrew. Who I felt I was, (a confident writer, a relentless creative, an enthusiastic lover) and what the world saw, (genetic-lottery winner, female, sexual) became a power struggle. My body became a trophy, and pleasure became elusive; something I could only give to the other – in this case, the “other” being man.
I’ve been highly sexual since I can remember. My early writings prove that; however, I was lost in definitions that excluded me. I would watch my parents in their profound admiration for one another. For them, love and sex were two sides of the same coin. My skin and bones absorbed this concept, even if something felt off about it. I ignored that cue and went on living as if love and sex were one in the same.
When I felt unloved by a partner, I resorted to giving my body. Of course, there were brief rushes of passion, but mostly I felt emptier than before. I assumed something was wrong with me. The young men I had been giving myself too seemed fine, satisfied even! I must’ve been doing something wrong, right?
My first partnered, sexual experience was at the age of 14. By 23, I had slept with 10 men, all of whom could not bring me to orgasm, with the exception of one long-term partner. Unlike the steamy short-stories I released on paper, it felt so one-sided.
Is it a wonder that sex left a gaping void, and love became so confusing?
Pleasure is My Compass
Like many young, queer people, my start to sex was interlaced with rigid guidelines. I have always craved human contact. I believe that at the center of all existence is pleasure; pleasure is now my compass.
Growing up, I had moments with close female friends. I felt things, and yet when opportunities for intimacy presented themselves, I fled. I would write lyrics about these young women, draw their silhouettes, and admire their brave hearts… and still my skin and bones rejected their touch. The only exposure I had of women wanting women was through the male lens: porn, nineties comedies, and shared fantasies of teenage boys.
So, why did it take me so long to find, and how did I come about it?
Goodbye Can Be Forever
“Get better, and we will see where the future takes us.”
Those were the final words my ex-boyfriend said to me (that one long-term partner I’d mentioned). We broke up because of my eating disorder (bulimia nervosa) and his new, found love with a woman he met whilst we were together. Those words were the greatest gift anyone ever gave me. You see, sometimes goodbyes are forever. With others. With the self.
While I was in it, I couldn’t fathom my incapability of making that relationship work. Were love and sex not one in the same? If I offered myself, played the part, satisfied him, would I not be good enough for his heart? I was so lost in this twisted narrative that I let go of my own pleasure. It was so profoundly neglected, I let it float off to a different planet, its existence merely an unproven theory. My orgasm an alien.
My worth was fused with my lovability, and my lovability was fused with my ability to provide pleasure in one context: heteronormativity.
It was crystal clear that I needed a radical self-love makeover and a new perspective. I had to kill the person I knew to become the person I was meant to be
Birth of the Quean
When I met my husband, James, I was honest with him. I was on the road to recovery and had zero time for bullshit. Three years later – two years into remission – we found ourselves in the streets of Porto, Portugal with his meilleur ami; the same guy who later, at our wedding, moved everyone to tears. At this time, I had learned he’d never been to a strip joint. I took it upon myself to check that box for him.
Let me set the mood:
After paying a €10 entrance fee, the three of us claimed a white leather couch in front of the stage. The fluorescent lights screamed at us as we ordered cocktails and awaited the first beauty to take the stage. Before she presented herself, I took notice of a body in a tight, pink outfit. It was too small for her fit torso – purposely placed to give just enough away, keeping the rest for the imagination.
Her petite frame and confident attitude reminded me of the magazine cover girls I admired growing up. Her dark hair cascaded down her back, her spike-heels flexed muscles I never knew existed. In that moment everything I ever felt about my own body crept slowly, dangerously into my mind. I needed to run. I couldn’t bare the idea of James watching this perfection when he would return home with me. Then, the lights dimmed. The music loudened. I was too late, the show began.
Just as I held my breath, chest tightening with anxiety, another woman took the spotlight. Commencing in a tight skirt and drapey halter, she revealed her curved edges to the crowd. She moved to something slow, something sensual. Her unconventional, warm energy demanded the room. Her confidence was less blatant, and she played us with her timidness. She was smooth. Her hips swayed, her clothes came off, and there it was. All her femininity, raw, bare and in front of me – in front of James. The love of my life. A human being that I locked inside my heart, swearing to keep a safe distance from anyone else.
But something happened.
Something clicked, or snapped, or broke, or came together. Every insecurity I had felt watching the lady in pink, and every insecurity I had ever felt before that moment, dropped. It hit the floor so hard, with such force and brute and finality, that it disintegrated on impact. Everything the world had taught me about my body, about who I should love, and how I needed to be in bed, disintegrated. Everything I had been sexually, mentally, since I was that 14-year-old girl opening her legs on a couch to some eager young man, to the bulimic woman in a toxic relationship, to me, there, now. 360. A moment. A second. A woman. Her body. Her curves. Her unapologetic attitude. Her country. That fire. I saw it. The one I once had burning in me. It all came bubbling to the surface. The adrenaline. The rush. The knowing. The desire. The understanding that the lady in pink, although beautiful in her own way, is not perfection. Perfection is not a human condition.
I repeat: Perfection is not a human condition.
Eye of the Beholder
Sex and love are not intrinsically connected.
That night, I experienced my own sexuality separate from the man I love. Femininity. Curiosity. Creativity. Seduction. As if falling from the sky, a freedom I could have never fathomed before, landed in my lap. I looked at James. He didn’t notice the change that overcame me then, but he would in the weeks to come.
I became me. For the first time I was both in love and simultaneously occupying my own space in the world. Seeing a beautiful, curvy, naked woman in front of me, moving in her own peace with no photoshop or enhancements – natural, flawlessly imperfect – awakened me to the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my life, I am the beholder. She was beautiful. And I wanted to experience that beauty over and over and over again.
I sat there in disbelief with myself. So afraid James would be dripping with desire, when in fact…I was.
Beyond the Confines of Love
I see myself with new eyes. I see my relationship under a new gaze. I see all the women I used to write about with that flame in my chest, and I understand now that the messages I let into my life smothered it with jealousy, insecurity, uncertainty. I was never allowed to grasp at my own desires because my “female” comparisons oppressed what was now naturally becoming me.
Writing this I am the most certain I’ve ever been. I am whole. The lost pieces have found their way. I wanted her. I love him. I understand now that sex and love are two independent parts to one big and awesome pleasure-centered life, and both can be fulfilled simultaneously – whether together or separate.
Self-Discovery is Freedom
This epiphany was a long time coming, friends. I made the choice to love myself and accept who I am. This radical shift allowed me to commit to a relationship that brings out the best in me, aka the true me. I desire men and women. I want to experience all things sensual. I am a writer, a lover, a female in search of pleasure.
Self- worth is determined by the individual, not society, nor the people you let into your heart or bed. A stripper saved my life. Yes, a stripper. She was effervescent. She burned bright. As do I. As do you. As do we all. She offered the equation that broke the barrier: a clash of insecurity, desire, and the will to be myself regardless of the consequences.
Through her, I heard the Call of the Quean, and I answered. That’s what life is essentially: calling for the Quean to come out of each and every one of us. Our Quean is forever growing and forever changing. They are beautiful, and the Universe needs them.
So, here is to all the Quean’s of the world. To sex, love, and everything in between.
Until next time,
Fuck well, friends.
So, tell me, what outdated stories are you holding onto? How could the world expand for you if you let those stories go? Comment below or contact me here.