We are all Mercedes Successful. We are all vulnerable. We are all show-stopping superstars while part-timing as human beings in need of love.
There has been an overflow of emotion toward the LGBT community since the Pulse shooting on June 12 – concerts, banners, memorials, donations – but there’s still a fairly large closet within which many of our community are forced to reside, often full of life, sometimes not alive at all. By now, we know that all too well.
This isn’t meant as a dramatic plea in any manner, and I don’t think that any of those who knew Mercedes would want that. What we do know, however, is that in just eight months, 19 transgender individuals have been killed. Murdered. Assassinated. We know that there is a backlash coming from our side of table against this sick behavior, but there’s an even stronger one pushing its way into the room to tell us that Jesus wouldn’t want us to use the facilities we are comfortable using, the facilities that match our identity. There are reasons being invented for people to just give up.
Since I started at Watermark just over a year ago, I have wrestled with doing justice to trans issues, just as anybody who has not lived in that world would likely do. But the deeper I get into these stories, the more rooms I share with these heroes, the better I become as a human being. Yes, we’re all flawed in our own magical ways, but when you really have to work for your authenticity to be recognized, when you have to go to bed crying about it, you have earned your identity.
That’s why we are all Mercedes Successful.
Mercedes was murdered in May. I hope you’ll take a moment to notice the faces of those who joined us to make this stark and brilliant journalistic package happen. These are all trans people from across our readership area; these are all people who cared enough to show their faces in public as a means to stop this scourge of hatred. These are brave people.
Something I’ve learned during the process of creating this issue – I didn’t write the story, just the headline – is that it isn’t always that easy to put yourself out there like that. Some people didn’t show up, and I completely understand. If you are trying to live an authentic trans life, it doesn’t often mean you want to be stared at. Sometimes you just want the normalcy that authenticity brings: the quiet nights, the friends, the structure. You don’t want to be a circus clown or a target. You want to be alive.
So I applaud these men and women for participating in what I think is a terribly underreported phenomenon. Your time is of huge value to the story that we’re telling, the story of Mercedes, the story of you. Thank you for coming out on this limb with us. We hope it makes a difference in the minds of some people. We also think you are all beautiful.
Elsewhere in your latest Watermark, you’ll find other stories of inclusion and concern. In the wake of the Pulse tragedy, QLatinx popped up to remind us that we’re not all the same. Most of those killed at Pulse were indeed Latinx, meaning they were of Hispanic heritage and welcome to define their gender in whatever way they feel appropriate (Romantic languages are such a drag when it comes to gender).
You can find out what God would be like if he were indeed a Scottish drag queen, you can delve into the ruminations of our owner and publisher Rick Claggett in the afterglow of his GREAT AWARD. You can applaud as the community service organizations in the Tampa Bay area combine and grow. You can read Michael Wanzie’s take on what’s going on inside those Log Cabins.
Speaking of politics, you can flip to the back for Uprisings, my column about political things. Yes, I’m voting Democrat – and I know which candidates I’m voting for – but, in the interest of fairness (I don’t have any Republican picks … ANY) – we’ll save our endorsements for the November reign. Please do get out and vote, though. We just don’t want to be bossy about who you should vote for, at least not yet. There’s a bit in here about a new fund dedicated to the intersectionality of gays and gun culture, a new lexicon we’re still trying to traverse. There are, in fact, thousands of words for you to stumble over throughout (and maybe some errors).
All of us at Watermark are incredibly proud of this issue and proud of the resilience of our community. After all, we are all Mercedes Successful.