I left Melbourne and severed ties with everyone I knew, including my family. I had already stopped painting. I had come as close as I dared to the edge of a high, dark precipice.Then I met a man. He was strong, smart and steady and I fell in love with him harder than I thought was even possible. He loved me back and not because of who I was pretending to be but in spite of it. My family disapproved of him.For the first time, I learned to trust someone enough to reveal everything about myself. To my surprise, nothing frightened him, not my manic work habits nor my moodiness nor my bouts of destructive self-loathing, certainly not my suppressed sexuality. He recognised early on that I needed to sate my curiosity about my own sexuality, to soothe the hot itch that had persisted long after I'd lost touch with M.He gave me the space to experiment – in everything. When I asked him how he might feel if I wanted to have sex with a woman, it didn't faze him. He'd lived enough that little surprised or shocked him. I asked him if he'd be with me, to still my nerves and who knows, maybe to keep me safe. Kelly was everything I was not; tiny, physically delicate, with long straight ebony hair that hung like a heavy curtain around her delicate Asian face, she smelled vaguely of cigarette smoke. I felt more shy with her than when with a man. Women see each others flaws and sometimes its competitive. Her body language betrayed that that she felt the same.Maybe part of me, the part still in denial, was hoping I'd be repulsed by seeing her skinny, boyish body naked. It'd make it all much simpler, I thought – it'd mean that I was 'straight'. But repulsion was the last thing I felt; I was intoxicated by the smell of her skin, aroused by the way her small, firm breasts felt against mine. Her skin was soft and warm to touch. Both hesitant, both just as apprehensive about touching each other, our curiosity about how and where each other's body might respond was a subtle, urgent pulse.I was self-conscious about knowing what to do. I felt it should be second nature, if only because we had the same anatomy. I'd had a deal of straight sex in the past but I'd only just begun to feel free enough to explore more of what made my own body feel really good. Again, my new man made me feel it was ok for me to do this – alone, with him and now, with this young, pretty woman. With him, I wanted to try it all: anal and multiple penetration, fisting, pissing, squirting. Before him I'd never enjoyed giving head and I hated any man trying to come on my face. I saw these as subjugating, anti-female political acts. With him, it was only about exploration, pleasure, intimacy, trust and love. Even with Kelly's hands and tongue on (and in) me, I wanted to gaze at him. He motioned or spoke softly to me and showed her and me how to make each other come. She tasted different to the men I'd known. And I'd never imagined that the nerves of my fingertips could become so sensitive. I felt the heat and wetness within us both. Her pelvic muscle spasmed on my fingers deep within her.
Since then, the less I've hidden, suppressed or denied, the better I feel. Each time I delve a little deeper into some part of me I've repressed, I feel lighter, happier, freer. What lies beneath the surface of me is complicated. It isn't always easy to confront. But I realise, finally, that it's ok. A liberated sense of possibility (that can sometimes, admittedly, provoke episodes of reckless abandonment) has seeped into every aspect of my life and art. The exercising of my sexuality has been, unarguably, the most important influence on the evolution of my work, even the most recent work that's not apparently sexual. I'm driven to test my fears, to go beyond them, without any thought of being judged.After my first time with Kelly, I made love with my man alone. Tears of relief spilled from my eyes as I came with him even harder than I had with Kelly. We continued to experiment together, with Kelly and others, and I became more confident and secure. In sex and in my art, I could be myself without rules or restraint – even without him, if this was what I wanted. This unprecedented freedom only made me want to share every part of me with him and to have him near always as I uncovered more of who I was. My heart and mind belonged only to him, no matter how intense my phsyical response to another woman might be.