The Gay Is Here To Stay: I Got Tattooed
I recently took a trip to Denver, and while I was there, I decided to get two tattoos. I’ve kept them hidden on social media as they heal, and I wanted to show a few important people the finished product in person before announcing it to the world. So without further ado, these are my new tattoos.
If you can’t tell by the ink, I’m gay. Both hold meaning, one more than the other. My journey to being a lesbian has been long, varied, and quite the story, and I wanted to get something to commemorate that while also acting as a reminder to be boldly myself always.
A few years ago, I knew I wanted to get a gay tattoo because I’ve been out of the closet for over a decade now. As I do, I take my time to mull all the infinite options over. I thought I wanted a rainbow ear cuff. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that was not actually what I wanted. It didn’t give me the “yes, that’s what I need” factor. So, I turned to a Pinterest search. Rainbow dots, flowers, hearts, etc. Not my thing. I decided I wanted to put whatever it would be just above the inside of my right elbow. I saw a line with gradient rainbow colors. I liked that, but… why the fuck would I want anything straight tattooed on my body?? The answer: I do not.
Circles are hugely symbolic in literature, nature, life, myth, etc. There’s no beginning or end. It made a lot of sense to have a rainbow circle. Pride! As I thought on it more, why stop at one circle and just the pride colors? I could have two concentric circles with the inner circle made up of the lesbian flag colors. I’m a genius. The moment the idea came to me, I had that feeling I always get when I know something is right. It doesn’t come often, but when it does, I pursue it with everything I’ve got.
I love the idea of concentric circles for this one because I am a lesbian-the inner circle-belonging to a larger community-the outer circle-of beautifully unique people living their authentic lives. I don’t want to hide that, and I no longer can since I have it tattooed on my left forearm.
Why is it not just above the inside of my right elbow ? Well, there’s some unintentional yet deeply meaningful overlap. One of my closest friends and someone I love with all my heart has two concentric circles in that exact spot. Though my tattoo is colorful and much bigger, I wasn’t about to have an exceptionally similar tattoo in the same exact spot as one of my people. The reason she got her tattoo was in honor of her dog, Nigel, who passed away after prolonged illness in March. He wasn’t my dog, but I loved him as much as my own babies. I was a huge part of his last few months, and my life revolved around my friend and him as she tried everything to get him better. But he passed far too soon, and it broke me wide open.
Her tattoo was in the shape of his dog tag. So though I came up with the idea for my tattoo completely separately, the added meaning made it even more poignant for me. I will carry Nigel’s memory with me forever. I don’t need a tattoo to remember him, but his memory is subtly etched on my skin the way he not so subtly carved a choco-taco lab shaped spot in my heart. He really was just the best boy. The thing is, his memory will always be intertwined with his mom because I wouldn’t have gotten to know him without her. She came into my life when I had no idea I needed her and quickly became one of my favoritest people for more reasons than I can enumerate. She is also gay and well that’s a much longer story, but she has inspired, challenged, and helped me reclaim some very integral parts of who I am in the short time we have known each other, and I expect it’s only going to get better. As a writer and advocate, I know the importance of people and connection, and I believe in honoring those who impact our lives. I could probably write a piece about how influential she is, but you know an accidental matching-ish tattoo works. As a survivor, I don’t let many people in, but when I met her, I had the same feeling I had with three other people who would go on to be fundamentally impactful on my life. I knew from the first time we hung out that she would be immensely important in my life, and she has. Again the tattoo’s connection was absolutely incidental, but I love layered meaning.
After I realized why the idea of concentric circles felt so familiar, it then felt odd but not odd enough that I didn’t do. There were lots of discussions had on if I should scrap the idea completely, but I chose to keep the idea and change the location. Because at the end of the day, it also just made it feel more right. Weird but right. So very on brand for me. Luckily she’s weird too and doesn’t hate it. Or she’s lying to me because it’s a fucking tattoo and not going anywhere so she had to accept it either way. But she is the one who took these pictures, so there’s that. Lucky her, she made me look cute, so she’s found herself a new job: my personal photographer.
ga(y)me on Fun fact, I am very competitive. It manifests in subtle ways, but if it can be a competition, it will be a competition. I’m also cocky as fuck. Especially when I shouldn’t be. If I’m atrocious at something “Game on, bitch.” I have been saying “game on” since high school. Staring down the starting o-line in a fun game of tackle football in college? Game on. You want me to try water skiing for the eighteenth time, knowing full well I will not get up. Game on. Help you tile your bathroom having zero experience? Game on. Rescue a dog and tend to her thirteen puppies? Game on. Want to play a game of Scrabble? Sure. Let’s have a trivia night. Sounds nice. If I’m good at something, you won’t know until I have wiped the floor clean of your loser sweat. With a smile, obviously: I’m not an asshole.
I was in a sleep-deprived, depression induced, anxious state of mania when I said “Game on.” Wait… gayyyyme on. I was so excited about my pun, I called my best friend in Denver and told her I would be getting that tattooed on my right finger when I came to visit. I do not feel the need to explain why that finger. If you know, you know. She said, “Let’s sleep on it, and revisit.” Yeah okay. Game on. I knew it was happening. It happened. I did it. She was hesitant until the tattoo gun hit my finger, and then she was like… well, okay.
I would be lying just a little bit if I said I didn’t get it as a huge flirt because I really fucking did. I know this shit is adorably cocky and competitive. It’s also a pun. It’s also gay. It’s also funny. Every person I show giggles and quickly follows it up with “That is very RaeAnna.” It is. It’s such a dumb tattoo, and it makes me brilliantly happy. I show it off a lot. I am also really excited to explain what game on means to my great nieces and nephews. That’s all the meaning there is to this tattoo. I wanted it. It makes me happy. I did it.
Those are my tattoos. I love them very much.
Yay gay! I got them at Old Larimer Street Tattoo in Denver, Colorado from Johnny Campa, a fantastic artist and human!
Originally published at https://onthebl.org on May 17, 2022.