This Independent Study examines the significance of tattoos and tattooing for LGBTQIA+ students or more broadly, queer individuals at the College of Wooster. I interviewed seven participants, all who have one or more tattoos and who identify under the umbrella of queer identities. These interviews comprise the body of my research methodology and were conducted by employing a feminist methodology. Throughout the process I remained reflexive of my position as both a member of the community I researched and as the researcher, I placed the comfortability of my participants over the interests of my research. I also aimed to keep the experiences as true to what was shared with me as possible as to not deter from the participant’s own experiences. With the experiences participants shared, I argue that tattoos can be and are used by some as a form of identity expression on a physical level. Tattoos hold different meanings depending on one’s identity, and those marks are read differently by those who see them. I analyzed four themes from the participant’s interviews: queer aesthetics, intersecting identities, a connection between tattoos and mental health and/or struggles with mental health and future interest in getting a tattoo that relates to participants’ queer identity. Tattoos can be used to express aspects of the participant’s identity that intersect with one’s queer identity. This study looks at how the intersections of race, gender and sexuality shape participants’ experiences with tattooing. The importance of this study lies those intersecting point with tattoo experience because there is a lack of literature that looks at queer experiences with tattoos.


Craven, Christa

Second Advisor

Proctor, Brittnay


Sociology and Anthropology; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Gender and Sexuality | Sociology


feminist, queer theory, tattoo, queer identity, queer experience

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Hailey Elizabeth Malzeke