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Orlando Residents Make Pulse Permanent With Matching Tattoos

Photography by Yannick Delva

Some say it's passe to get a popular tattoo design. But in Orlando, coordinated tattoos have become a symbol of solidarity and support for those impacted by the massacre at LGBT nightclub Pulse. 


More than 100 people waited up to eight hours in the beating sun, pouring rain, and smothering humidity to commemorate Orlando's Pulse nightclub permanently on their bodies Saturday.

Artists at Stigma Tattoo Bar in downtown Orlando spent the past three days inking LGBT people, allies, and advocates with a series of rainbow-hued tattoos (below) as part of a fundraiser for those impacted by Sunday's massacre at the popular LGBT club. For a flat fee of $50, patrons could pick from more than a dozen patterns designed as a tribute to the LGBT club where a gunman took the lives of 49 people and wounded 53 more in the early hours of Sunday morning.

All the tattoo artists donated their time, allowing all money raised to go directly to relief efforts for the victims, their families, and the survivors of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Danny Wells, a straight man who owns the combination tattoo parlor and bar with his wife, tells The Advocate that interest in the fundraiser, which formally began Sunday, exceeded his expectation. He's still trying to determine which support organization the funds raised at Stigma will go to, but he's adamant that the funds benefit those directly impacted. But as soon as word got out that Stigma artists were offering permanent reminders of the popular LGBT club Pulse, residents flocked to the small downtown venue to contribute.

tattooWhen The Advocate stopped by the bar at 7 p.m. Saturday, a line of patrons eager to get inked stretched nearly a full city block, and the mood among soon-to-be-customers was jovial and communal. Erik Shapiro and his partner Christopher Sousa, who were next in line to be let up the stairs into the bar and tattoo parlor that was at capacity, first got in line at noon.

Upstairs, every artist's needle buzzed consistently, carving rainbow memorials into fresh skin. Several patrons sipped colorful cocktails as they acquired their newest body art. The bar which occupied half the second-story space was lively, loud, and had a notably festive feel -- a welcome respite from a somber week as the City Beautiful reeled from an unprecedented act of hatred.

Take a look at the scene inside Stigma Tattoo Bar on Saturday night, almost one week to the hour after the deadly rampage began: tattoo

Michael Martinez, a 26-year-old gay man from Orlando, got a rainbow heartbeat symbol tattooed just below his nipple.


B.J. Sayers, also a 26-year-old gay man from Orlando, had two friends by his side as he immortalized Pulse on the inside of his bicep.


Steven Roger, a 32-year-old gay man who has lived in Orlando for two years, chose to get his Pulse tattoo on his forearm -- right where one might take his pulse.

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Sunnivie Brydum and Yannick Delva