Orlando

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When I first heard about the Orlando massacre I didn’t have an emotional response. The numbers weren’t revealed yet, and the only information I knew was that it was a shooting at a nightclub. Another one. It’ll get a few moments on the 10 o’ clock news and people will simply not care like they always do.

Then I discovered that it was at a gay nightclub and the shooter was a homophobe. People on facebook and twitter commented on how incomprehensible the violence was. Incomprehensible? When it happens all the time in this culture of violence? How privileged and isolated you must be to think this is incomprehensible. Exasperation and cynicism began to bubble up in me.

Not even 24 hours passed when articles everywhere began discussing how the shooter was an ISIS supporter, acting on behalf of the terrorist organization. Suddenly it turned into a terrorist attack on America, with patriots everywhere proudly brandishing their islamophobia and declaring that America will not stand for this. They are liars. Anger began to consume me.

2 days later, and I’m still holding back tears of rage. These “patriots” are using queer bodies as ammunition for their evil bigotry and nationalism. How disrespectful they are, to use queer people of color, the groups they have always hated and tried to erase through violence, fear, and laws, for their agendas. How utterly vile their “prayers and thoughts” are in response.

Day 3 and that rage gave way to bitterness. The massacre has been taken over by the gun debate, and even well-meaning people have been erasing the victims and the shooter’s motivations. Now the discourse is dominated by the 2nd amendment, terrorism, and mental illness. Petitions to ban assault rifles flood facebook pages. The NRA and their supporters counter back. There is no middle ground, no reasonable discussion, just everyone yelling about guns.

Now we are on to day 4. My emotions swing between bitter emptiness and angry determination. In real life I’m surrounded by those same “patriots” who grimaced the few times I said I was bi. They still don’t know that I’m agendered. They don’t believe me anyway, and they certainly didn’t care about anything except that the supposedly Muslim shooter was killed by the police. They’re very satisfied with that result, saying that’s how it should be.

It’s not how it should be. The victims should not be erased, the shooter’s motivations should not be hidden by the US’s terrorist agenda, and the primarily Christian”patriots” should not be able to brush of any responsibility. They created this environment that seeks to eradicate queers and people of color, especially those who refuse to be controlled. They contributed to this culture of hate. They may not have pulled the trigger, but they are responsible for everything else with their words, votes, and actions.

Us white queers, we are responsible too. We are less likely to be a target compared to queer people of color, and we need to use that to our advantage. Those of us who can stand up for others in our communities should do so, and don’t let mainstream society forget who the victims actually are. The victims are predominantly queer, latinix people of color. They were killed for being queer in a society that hates queerness, for being black and brown in a society that hates non-whites. They were killed for being unapologetically themselves.

I will not let people forget that.

For 49 days I will be wrapping in honor of the 49 deaths of the Orlando Pulse massacre. The rainbow scarf conveys the hope and resilience queer people have in face of this society. No matter how long and terrible the storm rages, it cannot prevent the rainbow from appearing afterwards.

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Covering from fear

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Last September, in a moment of late-night/early-morning inspiration it came to me that I should document my headcovering journey to provide a possibly unique perspective and therefore I made this blog. I was moved by others who made beautiful blogs that provided connections, validation, and advice to those who sought to wrap and cover, and I wanted to be one of them.

But shortly after I was hit with a great fear of how people would treat me, of being recognized online from a public arena like wordpress and how it could negatively affect my life. Stories about violence towards hijabis and jews only served to cement the fear, and those felt like it happened all the time. Up until that point I only shared my headcover pictures on facebook with my friends-only account that had no profile and no legal name to search me with, and with a secret facebook group of women who equally prioritized privacy. I know that nothing on the internet is truly private, but at the very least trying to find my photos, and then find me in person, would require someone who had both the skills and the inclination to hack into everything and go after me. Which most people can’t and won’t do.

But wordpress is public. You don’t have the benefit of internet obstacles to stave off most people, and most of my pictures show my face. I got cold feet and couldn’t bring myself to post here. Until now that is.

I’ve been thinking lately about why I continue to cover, despite the potential for being targeted. And I’ll be honest, the chances of me actually being attacked is pretty low. I’m a white person in Chicago suburbia, with no visible sign that I’m pagan, and a wrap style that probably makes people think I have cancer or am some weird hippie rather than be religious.

It’s just, I noticed how people would stare and didn’t seem to do so kindly. How people would no longer approach me and avoid sitting next to me. How people seemed to act embarrassed to be around me. Now don’t get me wrong, I like being left alone by people, but I should be left alone out of respect for my body and space, not out of them being bigots. My scarf shouldn’t cause raised eyebrows and cold looks any more than someone else’s tasteful pantsuit.

I needed to reevaluate why I covered and why I continued to cover despite these fears and experiences. I came to find that what started as an experimental fashion choice had taken on layers of significance that would make quitting scarves be an extremely difficult choice now. My wraps give me a connection to my heritage, act as a visible sign of my adulthood, makes me feel beautiful, defiantly shows my bodily autonomy, and acts as a shield/security blanket against the rest of the world. Covering has given me the confidence to be true to myself, and I need to let that confidence extend outward to the world.

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Hi everyone! The scarf used is a Wrapunzel Signature Pashmina in dark coffee.

So here I am, half a year later and ready to contribute to the wrapping blogosphere. I’m no longer afraid.

Introduction

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Hello everyone, this post is my official beginning in blogging about my headscarf journey and its various consequences on my life, ranging from fashion and makeup choices to personal health to interfaith/cultural interactions. I’ve developed plenty of opinions and criticisms about various aspects of headcovering, and have received plenty as well to address.

Going about the process of blogging all that isn’t something I feel can be planned. It’s not like writing a novel, things can change on a daily basis and opinions I held one day can do a 180 a week or so later. Part of why I created this as its own blog is so there is room to be sporadic and diary-like instead of adhering to the more academic structure that I aim for in my other blogs (granted I don’t always succeed, but it’s a constant goal nonetheless). I wish to have a blog where I can show off a wrap or a new scarf one day and write long political opinions the next. I want to delve into my own reasons for headcovering, as well as the reasons of others both past and present.

But most importantly, I want to portray headcovering as a natural extension of the creative self. With just some woven fabric we create wraps that range from the simple to the sculptural, providing protection, confidence, strength, enjoyment, and challenges. A mere scarf can take on so many meanings, for the wearer as well as everyone around them. It’s amazing when you think about how much power we give this item, and how much power it can potentially give back. I prefer using that power in a positive way, to uplift myself and hopefully uplift others in the process instead of being stuck ignorance. Hopefully this blog will be a good example of such.

“Lighthouse” by Leah Piken Kolidas

Back around 2011 or 2012 I learned about an online organization called “Covered in Light” that introduced me to the concept of pagan headcovering, primarily for the purpose of deity devotion. I didn’t get it back then, because I equated it to the submission demanded by authorities in the Christian religion that I and most of my pagan peers had left. Why leave one god only to do the same for another? Where is your free will, your sense of self when you do whatever a god says? I rankled at the concept, confused and even a bit offended.

Then again I was a dumbass towards a lot of ideas back then. Makes me cringe just thinking about it. Yet, despite my primarily negative reaction towards being covered, the idea also intrigued me. Initially in the background, it would pop up to forefront every once in a while as if to remind me that the concept is still there, waiting for me to tackle it for real. It didn’t make sense you know? Why would I, the person who demands gender equality to the T would be interested in (what I presumed to be) a classic symbol of female submission and inferiority? If other people wanted to do that, fine, that’s their right, but what’s it got to do with me?

After a couple years of on and off research about it, I began to realize that there was more to covering the head than I previously thought. I fancied myself a progressive person, but Islamophobic propaganda still did it’s job in my head and I had to learn how to undo all that in order to actually hear the scarf-wearers own words (instead of just assuming they’re brainwashed to promote a patriarchal religion). I began to see the articles from their own eyes, and how they felt regal, self-assured, and even safe when wearing the scarves by choice. I saw the beauty in them, and realized that most of the world had some kind of fabric on people’s heads for all sorts of reasons. It wasn’t a weird thing at all, we just pretend it’s weird in contemporary, WASP-dominated USA.

Still, the question remained. “Why me? Why am I still interested in this?” It couldn’t possibly be that *gasp* I wanted to wear a scarf too?? That I was being called to do so as well?

But that didn’t make sense, I had no god to devote myself to in such a way. Even if one of my gods did get that personal for me none of them would be associated with head-covering, they’re gods of wild things and natural phenomena. I could put a pile of dung on my head for all they care (I didn’t actually test the theory).

Thus, I went back to ignoring the idea for another while. I had more pressing matters of student loans and job issues to consider (not to mention moving back in with conservative Catholic family at the time), no energy to wax philosophical about headcovering symbolism in my life. That is, until I was trying to reduce my environmental impact and started getting into things like “no-poo” hair cleaning. Actually, it was pretty much just the hair thing that did it, because there was a transition period where the hair looks greasy and gross all the time despite actually being clean. I was desperate to make “no-poo” work for me but needed some way to look decent in the meantime.

“So why not try that headscarf business for yourself?” my brain suddenly told me. I had successfully forgotten all about that until then, and would have gladly continued to do so. “What’s the big deal? Just try it” it kept telling me. Fine. I was going to a meeting with totally new people in downtown Chicago anyway, they wouldn’t have known what I looked like before anyway. Except, what if people reacted weirdly towards me? I’m not exactly big and strong, I’d be an easy target.

Back and forth I went on it til I finally gave in and wore it. And you know what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I had put my hair into a bun, tied an old scarf on my head, and spent the day downtown with no problems. I felt good about it, so I did it again the next day. And when I started teaching and when I was out with my boyfriend.

Now here I am, 7 months and 52 scarves later, in the rabbit hole with no chance or desire of escaping anytime soon. What started off as a bad-hair day excuse ballooned into a multi-faceted aspect of my life that I’ve come to embrace as a part of my identity. Some of my long-term friends are even starting to get used to it, and I’ve developed a sense of style that never existed before. I can’t wait to see what else develops from my covering practice.

Making my way downtown, with one of my favorite scarves on my head (Wrapunzel Aria).

Making my way downtown, with one of my favorite scarves on my head (Wrapunzel Aria).

(By the way, the no-poo transition was successful.)

Greetings!

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my headcovering blog! Not much to see yet but I hope to soon get this site rolling with my discourse on headcovering and modest dress in a context outside of monotheistic religions, and exploring what it means to be a covered pagan.

I have another blog that’s more focused on my religious side of things at Along the River if you’re more interested in historical reconstruction discussions.