Gabriel Asks: What is the Hebrew tattoo on your right forearm?

Hi! You’re lovely all over, but I was especially drawn to the tattoo on your right arm. Sometimes it seems to say “demakhon” but other times not. So, what is it, and why is it there?
— Gabriel

Hi Gabriel,

Out of all my tattoos, the red forearm tattoo with the Hebrew script is the one that draws the strangest response. First because people ask if I am Jewish. I have to sheepishly say, “no.” But then I jokingly follow it up with, “What Chinese symbol tattoos are to normal people, Hebrew tattoos are to me.” They usually giggle and forgive me after that.

The truth is that I am a bit of a Judeophile. I don’t know what it is about it, but I love the Jewish culture and I think the Hebrew script is gorgeous and so cool that it is read backwards when compared to the English language. One day, I would freakin LOVE to go to Israel. Though, in hindsight, my tattoo might be even more weirdly received over there.

Okay, on to the tattoo itself. I gotta go back to being sheepish again. I am not familiar with “demakhon“ since I do not speak Hebrew. But here is the reason why the tattoo is throwing you off: it is not technically Hebrew. The tattoo is actually Aramaic Hebrew - the form of Hebrew used in biblical script. I’m not religious but it was just the route I went.

My tattoo, in short, says “Bleed Like Me.” It is the title of a song that I listened to a lot after I got my HIV diagnosis. After that, I knew I would never bleed the same again - both literally and metaphorically. To me, this phrase took the concept of “taking a walk in one’s shoes” to a whole new level - something more raw and dark that could only represent the experience of going through a traumatic event.

Aramaic Hebrew did not have the word “bleed” in it so if you translate it literally, the phrase actually says “pour out your blood like I do.” Cute, huh? When I explain this part to Hebrew speaking folks, they tilt their heads and ask me to rotate my arm three or four times as they look at it. They almost always say, “Oh yeah. I can kind of see it.” Then they walk away thinking, what a weirdo (I assume).

I put it on my right forearm so that I could constantly see it as a reminder to bleed like others as well. If I encounter people who are abrasive, it reminds me to be empathetic.


Bare InkSlinger