Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lesbians ♥ Tattoos


I never saw a woman with a tattoo until I started hanging out in Winnipeg's gay bars in the mid-1980s. Occasionally, old-school 1950s butches would show up with tattooed forearms like the men of their generation had. Younger dykes would have feminist tats on their biceps or shoulders -- woman power symbols (with or without fists), Amazon labryses (double-headed axes), stuff like that.


Lesbians led the way in popularizing tattoos for women. Long before it became a mainstream fashion, lesbians loved tats for their edgy, defiant, gender-bending vibe. When I first came out, getting a matching tattoo with your lover was a popular way to demonstrate "family ties" before our relationships had any legal status. Barbed wire and Celtic knotwork armbands circling a bicep were favourite lesbian choices at that time too. Eventually tribal tattoos were all the rage. And so on and so on.

[Tomorrow's post: will our heroine get a tattoo?]

26 comments:

Core Contrarian said...

Learn something new every day.

I guess I should pay a bit more attention to tattoos.

Robin Larkspur said...

Would that be a cattoo?

laurie said...

I think the barb wire tattoo is reaaly attractive,,thanks for sharing this today,,

Suzanne said...

I agree!

Sonia said...

I've always thought the wing tattoos some women get on their shoulder blades are really pretty...

Dark Mother said...

Lesbians are awesome with this tattoo thing! Here I was thinking I blazed the trail in 1991 by getting my first.

Travis Erwin said...

I have no tattoos but then again I'm,nor a lesbian either. I've said ill get one the first time one of my books fits NYT best seller list.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Can't say that I know much about being a lesbian, but I'm definitely long overdue for a new tattoo.

mxtodis123 said...

I love Celtic knotwork. If I were to have a tatoo it would be of some beautiful Celtic pattern.
Mary

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

I have lots of ideas for a new tat..but the cost keeps me from getting it..wanted the Goddess put on my shoulder and would cost $300...eek..
years ago I had a 8-ball tat on my left boob..after 30 years it was starting to resemble a pool stick and not a 8-ball...so I replaced it with a Dallas Cowboys helmet with #40 on it for Bill Bates, my favorite cowboy.

BugginWord said...

Heh. She said cattoo. Heh.

Copyboy said...

Personally I thought the mayans led the way, but I could be mistaken.

Phil S. said...

That ax is fantastic. WILL you get a tattoo? They are not as 'permanent' a decision these days, although it is $$ to get them removed.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hmmm....maybe i am a lesbian. i got my tats when there was only one parlor in this city. now there is one on every block. i got my first tat in the late 80's.

Judy said...

OOooo...I love the cat shoulder tat...

Chris said...

Don't get a tattoo Debra. This is my opinion only, but I think tattoos on pretty women make them look sleazy and tattoos on not so pretty women only emphasize their lack of external beauty. Just saying. Apologies if this upsets anyone, as I said, it's just my opinion and who am I!!!

Sarita Rucker said...

You you you...you're doing a cliffhanger!!?!

So did you get a tat or what?

:)

Sarita Rucker said...

By the way, how did you get the heart in the title for this post?

Em said...

Yup, I have two. Little tiny ones that desperately need to be redone or made into something else. (They're from 1977.) Back then I put them where you could see them in a bathing suit, but not a suit. ;)

My Grama's Soul said...

Gads.......all I want to get on my shoulder is a tiny, tiny rose or a butterfly.....does that make me a whimp??? LOL LOL

Jo

Joyful Things said...

No tattoos for me! I'm just one big chicken when it comes to pain.

trickortreat said...

Let's take wagers. I'll bet $1 you did get one! (I'm not a real big gambler.)

Caroline said...

Ohhh can't wait to see your tattoo...

laughingwolf said...

beatles reworked to: i am the axe man? ;) lol

Jeanne said...

I love that cat tattoo! :0) That's the first image I've seen that I actually like as a tattoo.

Toni said...

My great-grandmother got her first tatoo on the inside of her forearm (wrist to elbow) of Our Lady of Guadalupe around 1900. She was 4'11, carried a pistol in her garter belt on formal occasions or just in a secret pocket built into her bloomers for casual wear. She built her own sod house and raised 6 children in it. She was also a bootlegger, though it helped that she was married to the sheriff's brother and she was the best damn poker player I ever met.

In her 90's she wore high top sneakers and jumped in the surf with us kids from rock to rock. I loved her tatoo, her spunk and that fact that there wasn't a box big enough to stuff her big personality into.

Maybe she inspired the lesbians in the 50's to get their tats while teaching them how to drink shots of whiskey and play 5-hand draw, jacks or better to open.