Celebrating Pride - The Queer Roots of Body Modifications
June is recognised worldwide as Pride Month - a month where we come together to celebrate the achievements and lives of LGBTQIA+ community, whilst educating about the discrimination they face. Whilst many people think of parades, festivals and rainbows when they think of pride, the celebration has always been rooted in politics. Pride is, and always will be, a protest.
Brighton Pride photographed by @jim_carey_photography
Embracing every part of yourself
Here at Tribalik we believe in embracing every part of yourself. As an alternative jewellery brand, that includes using body modifications to help heal, inspire confidence and feel comfortable in your own body - something that is common within the Queer community. After all, whilst body modifications have roots in every culture in the world, its history in the western world is very much grounded within the queer scene.
Around the same time that pride and queer liberation were originating, so was the queer history of body modifications - starting with Jim Ward, a gay man, who opened America's first piercing shop in California in the 1970's. Jim's clientele was largely based on those in the BDSM and Leather communities - the place where he learnt his piercing skills. At a time when gay sex was criminalised and gender non conformity was frowned upon, people were reclaiming their bodies and asserting their right to bodily autonomy. This was the forefront of the modern piercing scene and eventually, through the help of other subcultures, has lead to the world of modern piercing that we know today.
For many people within the LGBTQIA+ community piercings, tattoos and hairstyles are used as a way of signalling - a cue in your appearance to signal your identity to other queers; things such as gay men having one ear pierced, or lesbians who might consider shaving their head. Back in the 1950's lesbians would sometimes get a small star tattoo on their wrist which would be covered up by a watch - they would then subtly reveal this to other women to show their identity.
Love the skin you're in
Body modifications are also an extremely common way to reclaim your body and feel more comfortable in the skin you are in - something that I'm sure many people outside the LGBTQIA+ community can understand. Like that feeling of elation when getting a new piercing, somehow making us feel like an even truer version of our self.
The ability to change one's appearance is such an important factor in the connection we have to our bodies and yet, it is not something that everyone feels comfortable doing. Many queer people still feel like they have to hide these aspects of themselves through fear of discrimination or in extreme cases violence.
The relationship between queer identity and body modifications is complicated, rooted in social, political and personal structures. In itself to be queer is to rebel against binaries, to explore self expression outside the conservative norms, a form of defiance - all aspects shared by the wider body modification community, and so it makes sense that these two groups often go hand in hand.
Supporting the LGBTQIA+ community
As a passionate, family run jewellery brand that has deep roots in alternative and diverse lifestyles, Tribalik believes that everyone deserves the right to be their authentic self - however they may choose to express that. We recognise that there is still a lot more to be done before everyone within the LGBTQIA+ community can live as their true self.
It is important that we make efforts to educate ourselves whilst also committing to support the LGBTQIA+ community. That is why we will be donating 10% of our profits from 24th - 27th June between Brighton LGBTQ Switchboard and African Rainbow Family
Your can check out our range of piercing and body modification jewellery here.
Hotlines for LGBTQIA+ Individuals
London LGBTQ Switchboard - 0300 330 0630
Brighton & Hove Switchboard - 01273 204050
Samaritans - 116 123
LGBT Foundation - 0345 330 30 30
Mindline Trans+ - 0300 330 4568
Sources we wish to acknowledge: