The Huddle: Inked Up


In her ESPN: The Magazine profile this week, Brittney Griner showed off her self-proclaimed lesbian tattoo of two women symbols linked. This led us to all kinds of tat talk at AfterEllen, inspiring us to share stories of some of our own ink.

So, writers, what do you have on you for life?

Jill Guccini: I have a large treble clef on my lower back. I just want to get more more more. Planning on getting a small one this summer in honor of my dog that just passed away, and have been dreaming of a cherry blossom on my arm foreverrrr but can never afford it. I think tattoos are absolutely beautiful and fascinating and there are so many goddamn fantastic ones on goddamn fantastic ladies here in Portland that sometimes I may become a creepy starer whenever in public.

Punky Starshine: I am also way too fickle to have committed to a tattoo, though I have ideas I’ve been toying with. (For example, a bar of music from a song my Nana used to sing to me. I want to have her write out the lyrics, so it would look like sheet music with her handwriting.) But I’m kind of obsessed with them on other people. Really well done tattoos can be so beautiful, and I love the stories behind them. In college, when I would move home for the summer, I used to get sucked into endless marathons of LA Ink. Sometimes I get the urge to get a tattoo but still haven’t settled on an idea with 100% certainty, so I just get another hole in one of my ears instead.

Dara Nai: I toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo for a long time, but never got one. I’ve seen some really nice ones on other people, but I decided there is no animated character, quote, mythical creature, foreign language, swirly doodad, or animal found in nature that I love enough to hang on my wall, let alone immortalize on my body. I also realized that in 50 years, nursing homes everywhere are going to be filled with wrinkled tramp stamps and shriveled arm sleeves. I didn’t want to contribute to that. But for those who love their tats, more power to ya!

Emily Hartl: I started out getting one here and there — my now ex-girlfriend’s name and a fairy, both now covered up and worked into a much larger and more beautiful piece, were both decisions I made at the age of 20. It’s 10 years later and I’ve spent a lot of time and money correcting the mistakes I chose to permanently put on my body so I’m going to take this opportunity and totally get on a soapbox for our younger readers. Tattooing is so much more accessible and commonplace now; they’re awesome, I have many that I am proud of but they came with thought and caring. My artist is off the chain awesome and I’ve thought about each new piece for at least six months before letting it take permanent residence upon my skin. In fact, I’m getting a tattoo this fall that I’ve been thinking about since age 19 — seriously. So stop, drop and and make damn sure that the owl or bird or whatever is that you think looks amazing is still going to be to your liking down the road. You’re going to look rad with tattoos when you’re old but you’re going to have them that long so be sure and if you can, throw down. If you have to wait for you artist that is a really great thing and it’s such a hassle and waste of time covering up stuff when you could be getting new ones instead.

Marcie Bianco: I have seven tattoos, and I hope to get more. All of my tattoos are concepts rendered in images or script taken from texts. My favorite tattoos are my two most recent ones, done by the amazing lesbian artist Stephanie Tamez, at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn. The one I have on my right arm is a kind of steampunk heart with a vial of “elan vital,” or what Bergson calls the “vital essence of life.” The essence is flowing through the heart to portray the “immaterial-materiality” of life.

Heather Hogan: A couple of years ago, I got into a really toxic relationship with this girl who had the most stunning green eyes I had ever seen. OK, “relationship” is a bit of a stretch; mostly we just shagged like hyenas. And, well, “girl” isn’t exactly accurate either. I later learned that she was a humanoid battle bot. But I couldn’t get enough of her. Maybe it was the way she played the flute, all stone-faced and hard-ass like a legit pied piper. Maybe it was the way she ate cherries in he most menacing way you’ve ever seen. And goddamn, she could work a game of truth or dare. Anyway, the last time we hooked up, she burst into flames. At first, I thought it was just our chemistry. (My body is pretty sick, to be honest.) But then I realized someone threw a sparkler through the window right at her face. And I guess it was her eyes that had me under the Imperius Curse, because as soon as she went blind from those firecrackers, I snapped back into myself and realized she was ruining my life. I ended up in jail because the cops were convinced I was the one who had attacked her. It wasn’t so bad, really. They had free do-rags. Before I got sent away, though, I got myself a tattoo as a reminder that I was free from that bitch forever.

Bridget McManus: Oh god. OK. I have three tattoos, but let’s focus on my neck tattoo, shall we? When I was 22 I drove to Los Angeles from Rhode Island with my then-girlfriend and pulled up to the Sunset train wreck of a tattoo parlor called Purple Panther. My girlfriend wanted a tattoo but was too scared to get one so I jumped in the chair and asked for angel wings on the back of my neck. I wanted the tattoo artist to shave part of my hair and create an angelic white tattoo that my hair would partially grow over. But because I have a fear of needles, I passed out onto the floor and woke up with a much-bigger-than-I-wanted black biker-esque tattoo that looks like a clitoris with wings. My mom hates it and my wife loves it.

Dana Piccoli: Uhhhh, so my freshman year, my dorm mates and I created what will go down in infamy as “Crazy Tuesdays.” We did all sorts of wacky stuff, most of which I will take to my grave. One Tuesday, we decided to go get some tattoos, coz why not. I have a purple women’s symbol on my shoulder to go along with my one semester as a Women’s Studies Minor. (I dropped because they weren’t hardcore enough! Just kidding, too much reading.) Anyway, I regret getting it because it ruins pictures and has cost me roles as an actress a few times. If you’d like to see it, I briefly reveal it in my vlog Girl on Girls on Film. Otherwise, here is a much more fun picture of me from the same time period.

Lucy Hallowell: I have a tattoo on my foot. One of my college teammates designed necklaces for everyone on our hockey team. When we won the league championship my junior year a bunch of us got tattoos of the design from the necklaces. I felt sort of badass at the time but considerably less so now when my two-year-old, who thinks it’s a sticker, tries to scrape it off.

Karman Kregloe: I never thought I’d want a tattoo, but when I saw the album art on Neko Case‘s The Tigers Have Spoken, I changed my mind. I kept a copy of her line drawing of a demure white tiger taped to my computer monitor for two or three years before I took the plunge. When I finally got it, I was at the beginning of a new chapter in my life, feeling very happy, powerful and a bit like a tiger myself. Five years later, I still love it. Especially those tiny little whiskers!

Ali Davis: I’ve never been tattooed or pierced. Not even my ears. It was never a THING — when I was six, mom said I could get my ears pierced or get the Snoopy watch and I chose the Snoopy watch — but then at some point when EVERYONE had a tattoo or a piercing it became a thing. Every now and then, I think about getting one, but have never been able to commit to one. If I were less familiar with the mischievous side of AE readers, I’d allow a contest to happen.

Sarah Terez Rosenblum: I can’t even commit to a nail polish color. But if I had a tattoo it would be a unicorn.

Grace Chu: I have a tattoo of a phoenix on my ankle. I got it when I came out of the closet at the age of 25. I chose the phoenix because it symbolizes rebirth, the beginning of a new era.

Trish Bendix: The one I call my lesbian tattoo is the one I get asked about the most. It’s a group of girls eating ice cream, but one is clearly the odd girl out. She’s not alone, though, because of one others turns to her and understands her. To me it symbolizes both my undying love of ice cream and that I’ll always be different, but I’m not alone.

Erika Star: A number of years ago I made the bold/adolescent decision to get a last minute tattoo of a quote I found online only hours earlier. It reads, “the only abnormality is the incapacity to love.” Since, I have become fascinated with Anais Nin and very much love the tattoo. And aside from it allowing me to weed out potential suitors who can’t pronounce words longer than five letters, and the occasional aw shucks, the sentiment went over like gang busters during my time in Love Addicts Anonymous. Not so anonymously.

Tell us about one of your tattoos!

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