I am a gay man.
I am a disabled man.
I am these things all the time but these things aren’t always forefront in my mind. Further, I don’t often feel both identities rise in me simultaneously.
Joe and I were on a plane that had landed and we were waiting until everyone got off so that we could get ourselves organized and out.
We watched as people got up and got their stuff from the overhead bins and then struggle to get everything down the narrow aisles. A typical scene.
The man sitting directly in front of Joe, a bulky guy, turned to stand up. He brought his left arm round to rest on the back of the seats in front of him and to help him leverage himself up.
He had a tattoo on the underside of that arm. One word. In big, black, Gothic script.
I gasped. Joe looked shell shocked. We both are members of communities targeted by Hitler for death, the name itself is frightening.
He pulled himself up, seemingly unaware or uncaring of the effect that that tattoo would have on us or on anyone else.
I glanced around the plane, saw the line up of people waiting, saw all the eyes on the arm, saw the faces of people as the name of his arm entered their consciousness.
Then, he was up and he was gone.
Before I could even formulate something to say.
He dominated the plane, he poisoned the air.
I wonder if that was his purpose.
And if so.
I wonder if he won.