Artborne Magazine June 2017 - Page 52

cultural commentary Permanent Scars: One Year Out by Ariel A. Leigh Ten years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, cul- tural geographers Glen Gentry and Derek Alderman conducted inter- views on tattooing and healing after trauma. These narratives were published as Trauma Written in Flesh: Tattoos as Memorials and Sto- ries, which is readable online. In their estimation, thousands of indi- viduals affected by Hurricane Katrina have been tattooed with scenes depicting the chaos of the storm, symbols broadcasting their shared survival narratives, such as the ‘X’ that marked the doors of houses that were searched for survivors, or memorials to individuals who died during or in the aftermath of the catastrophe. Our history at Studio XIII in Waterford was similar. Like Pulse, it was a safe and welcoming space that gave us a venue to commemorate our landmark achievements in ways authentic to our truth. When the charity fl ash page was posted to their social media, two pieces matched our stories perfectly. For Franco, it was an orange shaped like a traditional heart symbol. For myself, it was a bleeding anatomic heart shaded in rainbow. We got these on the insides of our left wrists, just adjacent to where a pulse is typically taken. According to Gentry and Alderman, “Tattoos provide a means by which those affected by Katrina can express and deal with their mem- In July 2016, I attended the fi rst Twisted Tuesday/Dorm Party hosted ories of trauma and place attachment, a way to make these feelings vis- at The Abbey. I documented that night on my blog, noting that much ible not only to themselves on a daily basis but also to a larger public.” was familiar and welcoming, but also that “There were some things that were undeniably different/changed: virtually everyone had some But for myself and for Franco, there was an element of careful discre- tion in our choices. Franco wanted the orange “because it would be kind of Pulse tattoo,” including myself. important to [him] while not constantly reminding [him] that the club Three weeks prior, I went with my friend (for the sake of protecting was gone or what had happened there.” Mine allowed me to code his privacy, we’ll call him Franco) to our “home” tattoo studio to get myself to be recognized by other LGBT-identifi ed folk while sliding past the leering gazes of bigots in my fi eld. It was a technique I picked corresponding pieces of Pulse fl ash done. up from fervent years of reading academic “queer theory” and recon- Franco and I had been best friends on-and-off through ups-and-downs ciling two worlds: the one where I was “out” and the one where I for 10 years, and for six of those, we were on-and-off regulars at Pulse, was invisible. corresponding with our on/off relationship. We christened most of our new friendships and romantic relationships there and celebrated Between the two of us, our stories are similar, but unique. Likewise, most of our personal milestones there. Birthdays. Pronoun changes. we are connected to the collective and the individual experiences Name changes. We aired out our grievances on the dance fl oor. Some- of those other individuals who have marked themselves with pride times we went in plainclothes. But somewhere on the internet, there hearts, City Beautiful skylines and the iconic EKG. All manner of LGBT-aligned and LGBT-allied Orlandoans were inked as a testament is photo evidence of us going in full-on cosplay. 51 www.