I wanted to get my first tattoo for my thirtieth birthday but I couldn't decide on a design in time. Shortly after my birthday, though, I realized what I want: a bee on my left arm, specifically using the bee design that is the logo for the city of Manchester, England.
The bee works on multiple levels for me:
1. I have a fondness for bees as creatures. I love watched honey bees flying in and out of their hives and I love watching a bee working its way through a flower. And given the range of comparisons I make between femmes, especially FG, and flowers, well, it just works.
2. It's the symbol of Manchester and so a powerful evocation of the place where I transformed my life, a place I have come to love very dearly. (The symbol there is related to Manchester's history as a mill town: the bee as industrious worker.)
3. I have a whole repertoire of puns building off b-for-butch that I use often as short-hand. In Stone Butch Blues, the old slang "b-girl" as code for butch was invoked at one point. Bee for butch then, it's a private linguistic joke.
4. I love honey, the taste of it, the imagery of honeycombs, the whole thing.
5. My mother is somewhat allergic to bees and has a serious fear of them, so the image is also a protective totem.
6. I just like how it looks.
My goal is to have as large a tatto as fits, aesthetically, into the space of my upper left arm. That's the plan. Now I will start asking around and looking for a good artist. (Tips, especially in the Boston-Providence area, gratefully received.)
Here are some versions of the Manchester bee. I'm leaning toward not having too many colors and followng the gold-on-black design, which appears on bollards and lampposts in the city itself (though I imagine I'd used black or another dark color for the gold, and my skin as background). But I include the mosaic image because it's lovely. FG thinks I should add a stinger to my design. Maybe so.