Wednesday night while working on a client at the tattoo shop, I received a telephone call from a family member. I only took the call because I thought it was an emergency due to the recent events with my father. This family member harshly accused me of something. Precisely—they accused me of stealing a large sum of money. This family member—being the wonderful “Christian” they are—apparently is of the “guilty until proven innocent” mentality. Is it any wonder I moved all the way from Florida to Arkansas?
I did not take this money, not that the family member seems to believe this. I would never steal (at least not intentionally) and more so I would never steal from my own family. However, I have no way to prove that I didn’t do this stealing of which I am being accused. I had opportunity—to which I was unaware—and as for motive? I have no “moral” character since I am both gay and have tattoos. Two strikes against me?
I see people being suspicious and thinking less of people who have ink that is visible to the public. I deal with it every day as both a tattoo artist and as a person with ink. I don’t really understand it at all. I know the history of tattooing. I know how different cultures see tattoos. I know where the American stereotypes come from. I think it is a stereotype that will take at least another generation to dissipate. I have tattooed what I consider the full spectrum of people: from people barely scraping by, to those who make more in a day than I will in my lifetime; individuals fresh out of jail having served their mandated time, to doctors and attorneys who probably should be in jail for doing things that would keep me up at night.
We are all human. Why do we lose sight of that?
Then there’s the whole being gay “issue”. It’s a little different of a “stereotype” to me because I believe people today have a choice to be tattooed. (Yes, there are probably people who choose to be gay, but I don’t think that is the norm at all. Just as there are people who have not chosen to get tattooed but where done so by force.) People fear and shun what they don’t understand or what they see in themselves that they don’t want to publicly admit to the world. Enough people have discoursed on that over time I will leave it alone for now.
Why as humans do we have to “isolate” what’s different: people of a different color; people of a different weight; people who have decided to decorate the outside of the “temples” they reside in. Why don’t we stereotype people who’s earlobes are attached to their face versus people have dangling earlobes?
As for my “two strikes” that my family sees—I don’t think that will ever change. Their brains are now trained and hard-wired to think the way they do. I went down to Florida to see my father when he had his heart attack for what could have been the last time. It now might just be.
Until next time...