Back before he was the insane president’s equally insane lawyer, Rudy Giuliani was the mayor of New York and was so during the September 11th terrorist attacks. It is hard to believe that this conspiracy driven whack job was once looked up to for guidance and inspiration during one of the most significant and darkest moment in recent American history.
A few weeks after the attacks, the country would resume many of the normal activities that we took for granted before that day. Sporting events, concerts, and television shows started up again, and one of those shows, Saturday Night Live, had one of the more poignant moments that I can recall during this time.
During the first episode after the attacks, Giuliani himself appeared during the opening monologue and the creator of SNL, Lorne Michaels, turned to him and asked what many of us were thinking.
“Is it okay to be funny again?”
“Why start now?” Giuliani quipped back.
It was a lighthearted moment that many of us needed, but more importantly, we were, in a way, given permission+ to start laughing again, that it was okay to start moving on from the horrible events of that day. It was okay to start healing, and laughter is a wonderful way to bring people together.
I have been thinking of this moment a lot lately. It was almost a month ago when George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer which sparked a week of riots, demonstrations, and trauma. It was horrible and heartbreaking.
Once things settled down a bit, I drove through two of the harder hit neighborhoods and the destruction and the beautiful tributes were in sharp contrast to each other. It was all very overwhelming.
I had a photo shoot not long after this which took place in downtown Minneapolis and I felt very conflicted about it. I felt it was almost inappropriate to be doing it, and as the day progressed Shannonlee and I would chat with people passing by and made small talk and everyone seemed relived and quiet. The chaos had passed and things were calm. People seemed to be happy doing small, mundane, everyday things… taking a walk, enjoying the sunshine, living their lives.
When the shoot started, I couldn’t help but think about that episode of Saturday Night Live. Was it okay to be happy again? To start healing? Is it okay to be beautiful again?
I think many of us feel a strong connection to where we live, and for those of us who have two gender identities, and two lives, we experience things through two different perspectives. I know what Minneapolis means to me, but on a different level, the city helped me feel comfortable and welcome the crucial first few times I went out en femme. I have a deep love and appreciation for a city with many wonderful people who would smile at me, a transwoman, as we all went about our day. I am (well, for the most part) proud of the city, the people. I myself needed to be there. And it was important for Hannah to be there.
I’ve been thinking about that afternoon, and the events of the week prior to that a lot lately. There’s no question that life is scary these days. Between the pandemic and the violence, it’s easy to be moved to tears.
Through all this, it feels superficial and shallow to getting a makeover and modeling clothes and heels.
I apologize if I my modeling and shoots and blogging is coming off as insensitive and selfish. I am not blind to what is happening all over the world, to my city, and to the transcommunity. I don’t mean to come off that way.
We all know the feeling of needing and wanting to be beautiful. I am learning that this need is still there, and probably even stronger, when the world is dark, scary, and sad. We need beauty more than ever. A rainbow after a storm, a hug from a friend, a thoughtful text, flowers in a vase.
I don’t know if it’s okay to be beautiful again. I think it is. I hope it is.