Though my heart is free, my hands, if they stray, can be dangerous.
My girlfriend and I visit Phoenix together with the sole purpose of seeing Frida’s art. The timeline in the gallery chronicles Frida’s and Diego’s separate artistic paths and their tumultuous relationship. It names Diego’s many lovers, including Frida’s sister, Cristina. It names two of Frida’s male lovers, Nickolas Murray and Leon Trotsky. The captions beside the paintings and photographs in the gallery give more details, spooling out an intimate history with each image. In one black and white photograph, Frida is stretched out on a bed, fully clothed, smoking a cigarette. Another woman spoons her. The caption refers to the woman as a good friend of Frida’s.
I didn’t dare hold my girlfriend’s hand in the gallery. We have had many talks about safety, about where and when it is safe to be visible. We live in Missoula, Montana, and despite its liberal bent, we cannot hold hands downtown. Phoenix was a new city to both of us and we weren’t sure if it was safer. And so my hands dangled at my sides as I read about Frida’s surgeries, her unquenchable thirst for mutual love and longing, and her good friends.
For the full essay, purchase the summer 2019 issue of the Indiana Review