I used to think it would be fun to be invisible; to sneak around unseen; to be hearing– seeing– touching– smelling– tasting– existing undetected. I live on the edges, form partnerships with those who don’t like the unavoidable all-revealing spotlight of society, who don’t quite fit in, conform. Something about us is different. I found that this community is LGBTQIA+, a rainbow spectrum glorious in its entirety, too often shortened, dimmed: Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Trans (twospirit-queer/questioning-intersex-asexual/aromantic+). These last letters are infrared, are ultraviolet, are invisible to the naked eye, to the public eye, all the more important. I’m in New York and it’s PRIDE and there are rainbows everywhere everywhere everywhere. The city is washed in them, they flash on billboards, in shop windows, at street corners. I want to take pictures of every rainbow I see, send them to my friends back home because look how beautiful we are. But the smile of look look look, we’re glorious, freezes, fades. With this newfound part of me, inextricable from self, I hear– see– touch– smell– taste– exist unseen, unheard, invisible. I could SCREAM and no one would notice. Because while the rainbow shouts, We’re LGBT(+), we’re here! it is simultaneously too broad, too narrow. Yes, we are LGBT (QIA+, we unify under that name because we are not recognized by others) but we are so much more, so much richer than that. It’s like how there are seven colors of the light spectrum, ROY G BIV, that are visible to the human eye, but we name them as all the colors, ignore the fact that we are blind to wavelengths below 380 nanometers and above 700. Why can’t we be like bees seeing ultraviolet, snakes seeing infrared? There are so many more colors to see, so much more to LGBT (QIA+). Flags striped with redswhitepinks, pinkpurpleblue, pinkyellowblue, greenswhitegreyblack, babybluebabypinkwhitereverse, yellowwhitepurpleblack, scream our individual pride. But these do not fly at PRIDE in New York; my blackgreywhitepurple is missing from the flags. Maybe it can be seen as an afterimage of the rainbow of pride. I stare, count to 60, look away, blink. There we are: an afterimage, a ghost, an inverted reflection of the publicized version. Spectral.
Julia McConnell is a junior at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia; she is pursuing a degree in Animal and Poultry Science with minors in Language Studies and American Indian Studies. When not studying, she enjoys spending time with her friends, exploring the outdoors, weaving stories and tapestries, and planning her next adventure.