NOH8 For Everyone, by Arin

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

I volunteered at the NOH8 photo shoot near me earlier this year. As someone who identifies both as genderfluid and transmasculine, it was the first time I had gone somewhere knowing I could be myself, be honest with everyone there, and not have to hide. The volunteers with me were kind and considerate and used my preferred pronouns for the first time in my life. I felt validated. I felt like someone cared enough about me as a person to respect my preferences. Most people just ignore the topic and hope it’ll go away.


Coming to terms with who you are is always a process and a journey. No one travels the same road. No one has the same experiences even if, at the end, we wind up in the same place. Because of NOH8 and the people I met there, I’ve felt empowered enough to open up about myself to my friends and family. I’ve felt like even if the people close to me don’t get it, at least someone does. I feel isolated and alone much of the time, but at the photo shoot I wasn’t alone at all, and it was incredible.

Being an introverted person by nature, as well as one who generally has to hide what I feel inside in order to protect myself, I’ve often turned to animal companions for support. They don’t care what I wear, how I look, who I love, or what pronouns I prefer. They care that I feed them, and play with them, and love them.

Just a month before the photo shoot I had the opportunity to become the adopter and owner of an OTTB (Off-Track Thoroughbred). At only 3 years old, this filly had been in rigorous training practically since birth and tragically, on the day of her first race, she was discovered to have torn a tendon – and she was given away as a result. Without the capacity to earn money she became worthless to her owners so, injured and trained for only one purpose, she was sent away.

This is not an uncommon story among the world of thoroughbred racing. Frequently, it ends badly for the unwanted young horse. I won’t go into detail, but this filly beat the odds and was sent to a charitable organization near me that takes in, rehabilitates, and re-homes unwanted ex-racers.

This is her story, too, and the message of NOH8 has impacted us both, because she truly has no voice!

Every time she sees me she makes a little noise and runs to me. Every time I speak her ears flick forward and she listens. I’ve learned how much heart and soul she has. She has healed fully from her injury and with me, she is learning a new job – and I’m learning how to train her not to obey me, but to listen to me and work with me as a team. She gives me the confidence to go back out into the world and not hide who I am.

This is our message. Love is everywhere, in everything and in everyone. We will find it where we least expect it if we only keep our hearts open. There’s no room for hate anymore, and that’s a wonderful thing. Thank you for letting me experience what NOH8 means in person, because now I live with it in my heart every day.



P.S. – The stencil on her face was done with a product specifically for use on horses. Nothing toxic or harmful was used to apply it, and it washed away minutes after our ‘shoot’ with warm water.


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