The night of the Pulse shooting, I went barhopping with a genderqueer friend I’d become flirty with. I went out as my full gender-nonconforming transfemme self for the first time in a while. Pink dress with an accompanying subtle pink pop of eye shadow. I looked good.
Sitting in bars and walking the streets of our New Orleans neighborhoods, I instinctively raised my situational awareness, as I always do anywhere when I’m looking femme or particularly GNC. As per usual, nothing too terrible happened. We were together, so we were confident. A random strange cis man interrupted our conversation by tapping my shoulder and smiling at me creepily. I gave him a death stare. We were catcalled by cis men on the street a few times, and we taunted them back. My friend made noises of disgust loud enough for them to hear, and I mustered up a sarcastic and loud, “Oh, thank you!” in my deepest voice. We laughed at the ignorance, we talked gender, we talked sex.
We ended up back at my place, and for the first time in roughly six months, I stripped myself bare with another person. Another trans person. Someone who gets it. Someone who could value the vulnerable desires we only show to each other, because only we understand each other.
We bared the parts of ourselves and our longings that we were so often taught to be ashamed of and hide. And we revelled in them together, through words, through touch, working our bodies to that place where everything else drops away but core desires and self.
It’s easy to forget how essential intimacy is to our well-being, our survival. Not just sexual intimacy, but some sort of connection with people who experience the world the way we do.
The next morning I woke to the news of the massacre. As the events of the previous night unfolded for me, queer and trans people (predominantly Latinx and other people of color) were enjoying similar moments of connection during Latin night at Pulse. I laid in bed with my laptop, not knowing what to feel, or even how to feel. It’s sad to say that I know from news of past killings and attacks, that this is a standard reaction for me. It usually takes a few hours or more before any sort of emotion surfaces in response to tragedy.