Today, this middle-aged lady got her first tattoo! I should say also my only tattoo, as I have no plans for more. I arrived at the ripe old age of 51 without a tattoo. I was scared of needles, had no idea what I’d want on my body for the rest of my life, and even took a certain pride in the fact that I was that rare breed of Gen-X that didn’t have a tattoo. So what changed? Why now?
I have spoken already of my love of the show Gentleman Jack and how it introduced me to a new lesbian hero, Anne Lister (and Ann Walker!). The sheer joy and fun and pride it brought was a welcome reprieve from the daily dumpster fires of 2019. I bought every Anne Lister book, purchased a replica of the ring worn in GJ, bought mugs and shirts and stickers – everything I could get my hands on. I joined many online communities (shout out to Shibden After Dark) and rewatched my favorite scenes endlessly. My wife and I took a trip to Shibden Hall, which was moving and beautiful. It’s like this precious bit of lesbian history gave me (and so many others) a new sense of myself, a new determination and freedom.
I saw several women in the communities I’m a part of get AL and GJ tattoos and I became OBSESSED with the idea. Here it was! Something I know will be meaningful and deep and rich to me for the rest of my life. Honestly, it ticked every box:
- Code: I love the secret aspect of the code and the fact that it’s in Anne’s own handwriting.
- Gay: I am forever marked with the words of a lesbian icon. Amen.
- Literary/font/words: If I ever were to get a tattoo, I used to say it’d be a quote, something literary. I wasn’t an English major for nothing, y’all. I am also super into fonts and this one is Anne’s very own!
- Historical significance: This isn’t just a fandom – Anne Lister actually existed! She wrote those diaries, lived that life way back in the 1830s. AMAZING!
I got the code for “I rise above it.” I chose this quote because it was written for the series, which was my entry point into Anne’s universe. It completely captures Anne in spirit, and it’s a wonderful reminder not to concern myself with those whose opinions don’t matter. A reminder that I don’t have to take the bait. A reminder to be like Anne – confident, self-assured, and fully, authentically myself.
Here it is and I could not be happier about it ❤