Tattooed into Gay History

The LGBTQ narrative in 2019 has certainly evolved from a time where being out, loud, and proud meant almost always losing your rights as a human being and being persecuted for who you loved. Decades ago, when it was shunned upon to speak your truth, so many LGBTQ individuals turned to a permanent solution to convey secret messages or as an act of defiance to authority. The secret correspondence came in the form of tattoos.

In 2019, tattoos have shown a resurgence in LGBTQ society where our skin provides a blank canvas to express our thoughts, feelings, and love for one another. As you celebrate Atlanta Pride and consider adding a piece of permanent artwork to your collection, consider one of these pieces of gay history to show your continued fight for equal rights.

Pink Triangle Tattoo 

Take a ride back to 1940’s Nazi Germany when gay prisoners in concentration camps were forced into wearing pink triangles as a badge of shame. These prisoners were considered “the lowest of the low” and were tortured through castration and sodomization with various items. Nazi’s also performed experiments on these prisoners to find cures for illnesses and even homosexuality. Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay people died in German concentation camps. Fast forward to the early ’80s when the organization ACT-UP used the pink triangle to raise awareness during the height of the AIDS crisis. The organization used it in one of the most famous campaign posters of the time period: Silence = Death.

Nautical Star Tattoo

In the late ’40s and ’50s, a group of lesbians got this tattooed on their wrist as a signal to other like-minded females. Local police in Buffalo, New York, knew about this emerging trend which made it risky for lesbians in the area, so they’d tattoo it on their wrists which could be hidden behind a wrist watch. The nautical star is a popular choice for many LGBTQ individuals, including a lot of gay porn stars that choose their upper chest or lower abdomen to tattoo this piece of gay history onto.

Equal Sign Tattoo

This tattoo is pretty self-explanatory as to represent equal rights amongst the LGBTQ community. The red equal sign grew in popularity starting in 2013 when the Human Rights Campaign used it to urge people to support equality in the United States.

Rainbow Pulse Tattoo

This tattoo made its way onto thousands of forearms after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida back in June of 2016. A local tattoo shop in the Orlando area began giving out these free tattoos as a way of giving back to the community. Many get the phrase “Our Pulse Beats Strong” underneath the tattoo of a rainbow pulse. The trend is still popular today amongst LGBTQ indivudials to represent a sign of strength and life.

Labrys (double-sided axe) Tattoo

During the 1960s, lesbian feminists tatooed this symbol on their bodies to represent strength and independence. It’s associated with ancient matriarchal societies and the Greek goddess Demeter. The symbol sometimes appears against a violet background and in an upside down triangle. In one middle-eastern country, there’s an LGBTQ rights organization called Labrys.