For a while now, I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo. I’ve had it mostly planned out for almost a year. Black ink — I just think there’s something really strong and striking, almost classic, about black lettering. I want it to be on the inside of my left forearm so that it will be there, like a reminder, every time I look down.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been second-guessing my decision, mainly its location. Because of the way the skin moves (or doesn’t), the tattoo wouldn’t be just on the inside of the arm: it’d also spread onto the back of my arm. Is it discreet enough? Is it visible enough? Maybe it should be on the outside of my arm, between shoulder and elbow – there’s plenty of room there. Should I have the writing face me or the world? I’d like it to face me, but maybe it’d look better if others can read it – it’d look less upside down.
But then I was talking to someone last night, I realized (or rather, remembered) that my tattoo is for me. Since the beginning, I’ve felt very strongly about what I want my tattoo to look like, where I want it to be, and what I want it to mean. I know what I want, and I should do that.
I’m planning on Korean. It looks a little more interesting than simply having words tattooed on my arm, and it’s a link to my Korean identity and heritage, which would be nice. I also wouldn’t have to worry about whether the characters actually mean what they’re supposed to mean because I can read Korean (although before I actually get it done, I’m planning on checking with a few friends who actually know Korean).
Since coming out, the concept of courage has taken on a special meaning for me. It takes courage to be openly queer in an often homophobic society, and it takes courage to disregard gender norms in a society that has a binary gender system that is as deeply entrenched as the one in this society.
For me, courage is like taking the first step. Strength is what keeps me going beyond that beginning. It seems exhausting, sometimes, to keep fighting to simply be myself in a world that clings to rigid categories and norms. I need to remind myself to have strength to just keep going and not give up and follow the path of least resistance.
I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to figure out what I want to do — trying to figure out whether there’s anything I really care about, anything I want to do with my life. I’ve realized that I have passion around queer and trans issues. I want to change society, change the world. And sometimes, it seems like the world is just too depressing; there’s a lot of prejudice, ignorance, and bigotry in the world. I need to remind myself that I have passion — that I truly, deeply care about making our society a better place. I want oppression in all of its forms to be eradicated. It won’t happen in this lifetime, but if we do nothing, it will never be over.
I’ve also considered 희망 (hope), 변화 (change), and 전이 (transformation). Hope and change seemed like nice ideas, but they just didn’t really resonate for me. As I’m writing this, though, I realize that transformation feels like it would round things out. It seems right. Life is a series of transformations. Right now, I’m focusing on figuring who I am and transforming into that from society wanted of me.
It’s all about reminding myself to keep going, reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, reminding myself that it will be worth it.