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Zoe Boekbinder's Video Shows the Queer Heartbreak of Lost Friendship

Zoe Boekbinder
Zoe Boekbinder

The artist explores the loss of friendship in "What Have I Done," premiering in The Advocate.

Sometimes losing a friend can be just as devastating as losing a lover.

Zoe Boekbinder explores this terrain in their new music video, "What Have I Done." According to the artist, who identifies as queer, the song was inspired by "a friend who cut me off without a word."

"Because there is no hierarchy to my relationships, I am equally heartbroken and tormented when a friend cuts me off as when a lover does," Boekbinder explains in the statement below.

In full:

For me, being queer isn't just about being gay or bisexual. It is about questioning everything I have learned about relationships and how we are supposed to prioritize them. It never felt comfortable for me to prioritize someone just because I'm having sex with them. I don't feel comfortable with relationship hierarchy. My friends and platonic relationships are at least as important to me. It hasn't always been easy to be this way. I've been heartbroken by a lot of friends over the years. I've had friends who treated me like their priority until they got into a romantic relationship and I was supposed to understand the shift without question. For me, it felt like a crushing break-up, but they wanted me to be happy for them. It is easier for me now, not because I've changed how I prioritize my relationships, but because I am less attached to relationships staying the same. I have accepted that they ebb and flow.

One thing that is still really hard for me is when a friend cuts me off without a word of explanation. I think we have accepted that it isn't okay to do that to someone we are sleeping with. We owe it to someone we have slept with to, at least, let them know it's over. With friendships, though, it feels too common for those relationships to end abruptly. Because there is no hierarchy to my relationships, I am equally heartbroken and tormented when a friend cuts me off as when a lover does. I see that this is just a part of being a person who forms relationships. Any relationship is a risk and in most of them we get hurt -- still, they are often worth it. I wrote this song about a friend who cut me off without a word. I am working on building relationships with people who will treat me with love and respect, even as our relationship is ending. Most relationships shouldn't last forever. There comes an end, and I choose to end with love.

A resident of New Orleans, Boekbinder has collaborated with Ani DiFranco, Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, Neil Gaiman, Mal Blum, and Mirah in their music career.

During a nearly four-year break in this career, Boekbinder also served as a volunteer teacher at New Folsom Prison. It was there that they had an epiphany to address issues beyond the self in art.

"I wrote about feminism/violence against women, privilege, and prison abolition. I wrote about my best friend who committed suicide. My songs started to feel important," said Boekbinder. "This album is the least and most personal -- it feels terrifyingly vulnerable."

"What Have I Done" is a track on Boekbinder's latest album, Shadow. Watch the music video below, and learn more at

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