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Body Modifications and Sexual Diversity: From the Body's Rebellion to our Areas of Work

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

We've come a long way as a society (at least Western society), from, for exemple, Stonewall to today. It seems that we have advanced in terms of LGBTQIA+ rights and that today queerity is established as an increasingly widespread discourse.

Although in speech, in the media and on screens we can see more representation of the LGBTQIA+ community, and several rights have been "conquered", people who identify with concepts built out of binarism and heteronormativity still have to face different problems of discrimination, violence, persecution, exclusion from work spaces, and on a daily basis many must hide their identity, their gender expression and tastes in order to integrate with the rest of society, get a job, study and basically survive. This symbolic violence, of having to hide the way you express yourself, should not be taken lightly, the emotional, spiritual and even physical exhaustion of hiding your identity daily deteriorates the mental health of those who are exposed to it, triggering problems such as high rates of suicide in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially in the case of trans people.

In this scenario, we could say that going out to the outside world expressing your own identity, being part of the LGBTQIA+ community is a political act of resistance. It is basically about disarming this mechanism of coercion of bodies, the heteronormativity that controls society and submits us to certain roles based on binary gender.

Disruptive and dissident identities often take different elements to build an anti-hegemonic aesthetic. Not only clothes, but also hair colors and styles, tattoos, piercings and also body modifications. Not surprisingly, one of the birthplaces of body piercing was the LGBTQIA+ community, which decades ago had to find ways to build a strong refugee community and various forms of resistance. Ultimately, these bodily manifestations of identity have been, throughout human history, a very important way of linking and strengthening a community.

The contribution of the LGBTQIA+ community to the world of body art is immense, and we must remember to value it as such. Before the tattoo and piercing and body art industry in general was an industry as such, and practices were sanitized and standardized, body modification was a bastion of revolution, resistance, and expression in many subcultures. Although it must be assumed that the body art community is not discriminatory or offensive towards the LGBTQIA+ community and given that many tattoo artists and piercing and piercing artists belong to the LGBTQIA+ community, we can still perceive certain prejudices, discriminations and micro-violence to which we should not remove the weight. It is not necessary to hit or physically harass to engage in violence. Making mocking or snide remarks about someone's identity, laughing behind peers' backs because of their gender identity, not respecting or assuming pronouns, and not caring about respecting the identity of others, not just peers, but of the people who trust our hands to decorate their body. All these little things are very important when we review its symbolic content, and it is up to us to change it day by day in our behavior and attitudes. Although we have normalized these attitudes and ways of thinking because our education and training are still heteronormative, those who dedicate themselves to body art must keep in mind that body modifications, despite being more normalized today and also being an opportunity for work, have always been linked to the dissidence and are also a mechanism to reveal oneself to society and differentiate or identify a community, in the same way that queerity is an anti-hegemonic mechanism that seeks to deconstruct heteronormativity. It is necessary in these times of disruption and social change, the constant questioning of our practices and privileges, to give way to more empathic and respectful forms of relationship.

The opinion of the columnist is not necessarily an opinion of Coletivo Sala Solidária.


Lia Samira (Santiago, Chile) Body Piercer at Pain Family

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