This is the story of how I got a paragraph tattooed onto my arm. I’ve had the hardest time writing this post, but I wanted to document all of the FeelingsTM I had that led to this decision. I hope some of y’all will find this interesting, too!
I have never liked the idea of a text/quote tattoo on me, personally. Beautiful on others, but not my thing. And yet, when the moment was right, I needed this on my body:
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall, and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love;
Cannot be killed or swept aside
The Pulse Shooting
This is an excerpt from a sonnet by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote Hamilton. (You can watch the full speech here — be prepared to cry, if you’re anything like me!) He wrote it as his Tony’s acceptance speech, which was a day after the Pulse nightclub shooting.
As a queer lady, I was hurting after that shooting. Every time something tragic like that happens, it makes me feel like I don’t belong, like I should hide that part of myself and never let it out. Compounded with the feelings of inadequacy for being bisexual rather than gay, I felt like I couldn’t openly mourn. I constantly have to remind myself that I’m part of the LGBTQ community. I don’t fit in because I’m not straight, but I’m not gay, either, and the passing privilege of my long-term relationship appearing straight only adds on to these feelings. (This post on bisexual erasure and the Pulse massacre explains my feelings more eloquently than I ever could.)
When scary things like this happen, the conclusion I come to over and over again is to double down on my identity. I am who I am, and I’m loud and proud about it. Despite the fear of being out, I’m out. I’m happy to speak for those who don’t feel comfortable being out and share my experiences with being bisexual, with dating a man and how that changes how people perceive me.
As powerful as these words were to me, reaffirming who I am and what I believe — I didn’t get this tattooed immediately after the Pulse shooting.
The 2016 Election
It wasn’t until November 8, 2016 that I found myself feeling the same way all over again. The election was emotionally draining for a lot of us, and the result was no less exhausting. But who am I to feel this way? I benefit from so many privileges.
Without getting into it too much — because I’m sure a lot of you feel the same — I was angry and upset and felt defeated. But I knew that wouldn’t accomplish anything, and, once again, I found myself realizing over again that I needed to lean into these feelings and keep fighting. Once again, Lin-Manuel’s words kept running through my head.
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger…
Getting the Tattoo
Both of my tattoos, I’ve taken my time deciding, but once I decide, I’m ready to get it done IMMEDIATELY.
(By the way, my first tattoo is also representative of my core values. I’m sensing a pattern here.)
Not being a fan of text tattoos, I wanted to make sure I loved the font of my tattoo. What I decided on, in the end, was to have a friend, Emily, write the phrase in calligraphy for me. Especially since “love is love” is repeated so many times, I love that no two letters look exactly the same. Also, this means that even if someone else gets the same words tattooed on them, I’ll always have a unique version, which is kind of neat!
I already knew where I wanted it — my inner arm/bicep. Though I’m not a huge fan of quote/text tattoos in general, I do love them placed on the bicep!
I went to Ashley Thomas, a local tattoo artist here in Austin who is also vegan! It was a relief knowing that the entire tattoo process was vegan and as an added bonus, we talked about vegan food half the time. She also fit me in her schedule on super short notice, which I will always be grateful for!
It took about an hour and a half to get it tattooed. It was significantly more painful than my first tattoo, but not unbearable — maybe a 6/10, with some parts reaching an 8/10 (closer to my armpit and elbow). I’ve heard the inner arm/bicep is one of the most painful parts to get tattooed, so I was relieved I did okay!
“What Does Your Tattoo Say?”
I’m so delighted with how my tattoo came out. Every part of it, from the quote to the placement to the lettering, feels like me. I love seeing the feminine letters peek out of a short-sleeved shirt or dress.
When I first got it, I was nervous that others wouldn’t like it — probably because I didn’t really like text tattoos before getting this one, and I was worried with how large it ended up being. Luckily, that feeling faded within the first week. It’s my body, so it only matters if I like it — and I do, with all of my heart.
While it’s a lot to explain (“It’s a quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda, no, not from Hamilton…”) everyone I’ve shared the meaning with has agreed that it’s a beautiful sentiment. I’m proud to have it on my body forever as a reminder to fight hate with love.
I’m excited to add to my body art collection in the future (sorry, mom) — maybe even with some pieces that aren’t as deeply personal as my first two.
Thanks for reading if you got this far and I want to know…