In Living Color
BY Jeffrey Hartinger
July 21 2011 1:45 PM ET
Robear Chinosi, the colorful floor manager from the popular TLC show NY Ink, was born and raised in New York City. In the stereotypical world of the tattoo industry, Chinosi adds an element of surprise in being an out gay employee in a popular New York tattoo parlor. With the season finale set to air tonight, Chinosi reflects on his experience on the show, homophobia in the workplace, and his favorite LGBT tattoos.
The Advocate: Tattoo parlors are predominately masculine and heteronormative. How was it being openly gay in such an environment?
Robear Chinosi: I am so proud to be a gay man immersed in such a manly and straight world. This just reinforces how strong we are as men, and being gay doesn’t mean you are less than, weaker than, or can’t hold your own among other guys. First and foremost, I am at NY Ink to be a manager. There is a lot of masculinity, testosterone, and a lot of egos in the tattoo parlors that I have to deal with each and every day, but I have my fair share of masculine qualities. If I am facing adversity because I am gay, I simply let my aggressive, strong business sense kick in to get the job done.
Have you had any negative experiences in past work environments due to your sexual orientation?
Yes, I have been teased and made fun of since I was a child. I’ve heard every single negative gay name known to man. To be honest, I used to cry and get very upset when I would be verbally attacked for my sexual preference. But now I can truly laugh it off. I feel bad for people who are still not accepting. Closed-minded people haven’t made the full evolution into becoming adults and decent human beings.
How did the first season of NY Ink go?
I think the first season went pretty well. There were many ups and downs, like a roller coaster, because you are spending 10, 12, sometimes even 14 hours with your coworkers and cast members. They are bound to get on your nerves, get in your business and personal life, test you on how much you can handle, and directly disobey orders given by an authority figure. I attempted to deal with this in different ways: Sometimes I lost my temper, sometimes I simply walked out, and sometimes I ignored them until they were ready to work and get the job done. I do not mix business and pleasure. Working on NY Ink was a job I took very seriously. I do not hang out with anyone outside of work. I am there to be the manager.