A chilling wind whips two solid red flags across the faces of the marchers. Adorned in rainbow flags, anti-hate t-shirts and stern faces, Tristin Leavitt and his allies band together in the annual Unity March.
The line of chanting students extends down the entire block from Armstrong to the corner of Spring and Patterson. Each protester was armed with a homemade sign or t-shirt declaring war on the injustices they face. Tristin represents his LGBTQ community with a pink, blue and yellow flag draped across the back of his paint splattered leather jacket.
“It started with me just seeing all the shit that was happening and feeling the need to so something to help to change it,” Tristin said. “But once I realized that I was queer it became personal, so that just added more to the fire.”
Tristan goes on to say that “queer” is an umbrella term that can encompass anybody within the LGBT spectrum.
“Personally, I identify as pansexual, but a lot of people don’t know what that means so I just use the term queer and people can assume that I’m something other that heterosexual,” Tristin said.
With all of the social pressures of high school, heteronormativity and the masculinity complex that he was faced with, Tristan felt pressured throughout his youth to be a hyper-masculine straight guy even though he wasn’t.
“And, after a lot of introspecting, looking around myself, sort of finding out what I actually feel, I was able to overcome that and realize that’s not actually me,” Tristin said.
Now, he sports a high, dyed-pink bun, nose and ear piercings and a thick ginger beard that hangs off his chin.
“It wasn’t until I got to college and met some awesome friends who are also queer that I started to question whether I actually was what society conditioned me to be, or if I was just that way because society conditioned me to be that way,” Tristin said.
Over time Tristin has grown more comfortable with his sexuality and with the support of his friends and the LGBTQ community. It was a journey, but he has now found his place and is grateful to be a part of such a vibrant circle of people.