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You wouldn’t think that a place where you pay hundreds of dollars to get stabbed 80 to 150 times a second is where people go to enjoy their Saturday afternoons.
Between the sounds of buzzing and the smell of antiseptic — the tattoo parlor is one place LGBTQ people have found they can get a permanent piece of art on their bodies that shows off their pride…
Devon Hannan explored what it means to get a tattoo as an LGBTQ person.
Why celebrate pride for one week when you can celebrate it all year long?
Ohio University student, Roxanne Hunt, chose to tattoo her body to express herself – not only in terms of what she likes, but also to show who she is.
“Tattoos are something that I really like. They actually really help me with stress.” Hunt says.
Roxanne actually has three tattoos, but one more than the others has a lot of meaning. In a horizontal line across her ribcage, she shows a series of rainbow dots, signifying her bisexual pride.
“I got my tattoo because, before college, I was really not open about my sexuality at all,” Hunt shares. “And then I came to OU, which is a really liberal campus and I really discovered myself and I decided that I was okay with being out there and expressing my sexuality.”
Over at Thunder Bunny Tattoo on West Stimpson, owner Alex Andrews has done a lot of tattoos in his eleven years on the job — by his count, roughly 12 thousand. And of those, more than 200 were like Roxanne’s. He says tattoos can be a really visible way for LGBT people to quietly show people who they are.
“I try my best to sympathize with people in that position and lend aid and comfort to them because they need it, and it’s got to be so hard to feel as if, you know, something that comes so natural to you is so evil to someone else. It helps bring the world a little bit out of the darkness, a little bit more, you know, to be a little bit more open-minded about it,” Andrews tells us.
Now, tattoos can do more than just showing people who you are — Lyndsey Fought, the chair of the Southeast Ohio LGBTQ+ Center, says tattoos also bring members of the LGBTQ+ community together.
“They want to show other people that that’s who they are and that’s why they get tattoos – just to be a permanent part of their identity that people can immediately see and especially if it’s a flag that’s not very identifiable like if somebody outside of the community sees a trans flag or a bi flag they might not immediately connect that that’s- So it’s also kind of a way to show others that know, and we’re in a community together.” Fought explains.
So much so that Athens Pride Festival organizers are working with Thunder Bunny to fundraise for this June’s celebration.
While the official contract is still in the drafting stages, Fought says that Thunder Bunny is talking about offering Pride-related Flash tattoos, which are pre-drawn and available immediately for walk in customers in May to raise money for the festival in June.
“Well, we were looking for a tattoo parlor that either had LGBT artists or were allies,” Fought said. “So that’s why we reached out to Thunder Bunny and they were very open to the idea.”
Like Fought, Andrews agrees that getting a tattoo is just another way of showing pride within a community.
“I think a tattoo just symbolizes that unity, and the strength, and the hardship, and you know, it’s ultimately like, what they’re interested in, you know. They’re interested in being free and feeling normal within it, and I think it’s a normal thing to get a tattoo of it,” Andrews shares.
Roxanne Hunt believes that getting a tattoo can be a reflection of yourself, and not just of what you enjoy.
“I would say that if you want to get a tattoo to represent who you are, I would strongly suggest doing it. It’s really herapeutic.” Hunt says.
For thousands of years, humans have tattooed their bodies — and for some people with pride tattoos it is their way of saying we’re here, we’re queer – and just like these tattoos, we’re not going anywhere.
With the OUtlet, I’m Devon Hannan.