In the early 2000’s I was extremely out-and-proud as a lesbian (among other sexual expressions) and decided to celebrate my vast diversity while also letting “those in the know” see my pride so we would have common ground, or maybe even as an icebreaker towards connecting with someone. While it never served well as a method of connecting on a romantic level, my tattoos have provided several instances where someone gave a knowing nod, a compliment, or even a high-five. I’ve always worn short sleeves or tank tops without ever stopping for a second to think I could be endangering myself.
“The more “mainstream” we become, the more the media loves to sensationalize our stories – mainly the ones of violence against us.”
Attacks against the LGBT community are nothing new, but the media seems to report the attacks with more manic fervor today than ever before. The more “mainstream” we become, the more the media loves to sensationalize our stories – mainly the ones of violence against us. When the Pulse/Orlando shooting happened just over a month ago, the media went into a feeding frenzy.
What got only menial coverage, however, was how our sense of safety or safe-zones were shattered. LGBT bars were considered our safe havens for years and now that foundation was rocked. But between Caitlin Jenner’s circus act, the marriage equality ruling last year, the bathroom bills this year and the Pulse shooting last month, we needed a sense of safety now more than ever, but what happens when even your body marks you as a target?
“I was a walking target during LGBT open season.”
Many trans people are well acquainted with being a physical, walking bullseye for soft attacks and slurs if they don’t “pass” or aren’t “stealth”. Even when I wasn’t passing I never worried about my safety. Maybe it was stupid ignorance but it was only in the wake of Pulse that I found myself struggling with what I once wore on my skin with great pride. When I was sitting on the train heading into New York City for Pride 2016, with my tattoos and my custom made shirt openly proclaiming my pride and diversity, I suddenly was worried. I was a walking target during LGBT open season.
What did I do? I pulled open my iPhone health app and made sure all my medical information and contacts were up to date and put it on the main screen. That way if something ever did happen there was information available. Beyond that, I raised my head up high and walked with purpose through the city because I refused to let fear win. It’s still always there in the back of my mind now, when it never was before, but now I have renewed pride in my marks and draw strength from them and while I may be a walking target, I am living my authentic life and will keep fighting for it every day.