Maegan, New Hampshire
This tattoo was my first. Shane was a 15 year old trans-man. He took his own life before he could actually experience it. He was always full of life and an incredible inspiration to not only me but to everyone who actually gave him the chance. Shane wrote a poem: “The 27 Things I Want to Do Before I Die.” “Be Revolutionary” was the last on his list, and he most certainly was.
Steve, southern California
I’m a bartender by night and an internationally competitive drone racer by day. This is my one and only tattoo. I got it when I moved from Portland, the City of Roses, to California, as a symbol of a major transition in my life.
I got this when I was 18, a few months after I moved away for college. It’s my grandma’s handwriting off of the very first letter she wrote me. I found it after she died when I was going through a box of letters and cards my parents kept for me. She was my favorite, and the most strong-willed, hard working, sassy and kind person I’ve ever met. She’s the person I aspire to be like.
A great artist covered up a really ugly iris that looked like a bruise on my leg. Now I have this lovely orchid.
I have a few tattoos but the one that means the most is my niece’s name that I have on my shoulder. She died in utero during the third trimester of my sister’s first pregnancy. Since she was below a certain weight, we didn’t have a death certificate. We buried her on my sister’s ranch in Kansas. I planned the small memorial and my brother-in-law built her casket. It was life-changing, but I’m so glad for this little daily reminder.
Sherry, Indiana, and Matthew, Maryland
The long story behind our (matching) tattoos begins a year ago in March of 2015. I was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker. This prestigious award is given to 50 librarians world wide each year. Matthew Winner was named a Mover and Shaker in March of 2013. To celebrate, Matthew sent me a graphic he had designed which said Mover and Shaker in Gallifreyan, the language of Time Lords (from our absolute favorite classic show, Doctor Who). Matthew said he wanted to make me a shirt that had the graphic. The shirt conversation soon turned into “wouldn’t that be a cool tattoo?” At first it was a bit of a joke, but the more we talked about it, the better the idea sounded. Matthew and I decided we would have our Gallifreyan Mover and Shaker tattoos done while we were both in Columbus, Ohio for our bi-annual school librarian conference.
The very first night we were in town we went and had our tattoos done. Four months later, it’s still the most awesome thing we’ve done in celebration of being Movers and Shakers, best friends, and as a daily reminder that we are enough and are doing good things!
Dawn, New York City
This was my present to myself for finishing grad school. I wanted to be a librarian since I was a child. I didn’t go to grad school right out of college. I worked as a retail manager for over 20 years. Then I decided to do it, I was going to grad school and finally becoming a librarian. I worked full time and took one class a semester until my last semester when I took two. I promised myself that if I made it through to the end I’d get myself the one tattoo I really wanted. A pinup librarian! This one was done by Gentle Jay Blondel (from season 4 of Ink Master). He drew her to resemble me and did the best job I could have wanted!
Bjoern, southern California
I was out surfing with some friends when they began shouting and waving at me. I didn’t know why – maybe they wanted to go in? Come closer? Then I looked down and saw a great white shark directly beneath my board. From my earliest memories, I’ve had an affinity for sharks. I was fascinated by them and read about them and studied them. This tattoo is a message from me to sharks, that I am their friend and I mean them no harm.
Antonio and Crystel. Kids are forever. However, Antonio is changing his name to Juan José Antonio sol Di Grazia. Now what?
Tamara and Esayas, Austin, TX
We chose tattoos instead of wedding rings because we believe that love can’t be bought or sold or taken on or off and is not best represented by a material object. We thought that altering our bodies permanently was a better expression of our permanent union that supersedes the material. We also didn’t want to support the gold and diamond industries which have done so much harm to Africa. Our tattoos are each other’s initials in Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia, where we met.