Volume 14 • Number 2 • Fall-Winter 2022-2023

C.L. Bee

My New Tat

I’m old. I have a tattoo. Got it before. . .well, was it ever not cool to have a tat? The tat I have now is a little honey bee. It’s under my shirt, behind my left shoulder (I’ve been a beekeeper for over 50 years).

But I want another tat – an old-time typewriter, like the one I learned on back in the all-girls’ typing class in high school. On my tat will be that typewriter with the letter Q being struck. Q because I’m queer and have always been proud of it (even when that wasn’t cool either).

I’ve been through several partners when loving someone of the same sex was illegal, punishable by jail or insane asylum. Since I’m really trans I tend to fall in love with straight women. I don’t recommend it. They’re mostly out to see what it’s like to screw around with another woman. And they’ll break your heart because you’ll fall in love and they’ll go back to their straight ways, if they weren’t cheating all along. And they’ll convince everyone you were just a friend which will leave no one to call to check on you.

I’ll have my new ink put on my bicep, my right arm just below the shoulder part. The muscle there is still pretty prominent, but I’ll build it up to show off my tat. It’ll just be a black and white tat, like that’s the way it is – you love someone or you don’t and there’s no way to control that. God help those of us who run off at the first sign of something shiny in the distance and don’t look back, even though we’ve done it before.

Or maybe I should put some blue ink in there. Like black and blue. When you limp off just barely able to make it away with your soul so bruised it hurts to breathe.

I’m going to get another tat and put it just below where my tee shirt sleeve falls so people, bold enough to ask, can say, “What does the Q stand for?” And I’ll smile and let them know that a Q is really just a crooked magnifying glass that finally points out the truth: Queer. That’s just how it is, and everyone should know it.

No. It’ll be a black and white tat for sure.

C. L. Bee holds an MA and an MFA in creative writing. They have published in various lit magazines including Nobody’s Home, The Monarch Review, Chug Magazine and others. Bee has been featured on NPR’s This I Believe and has been a featured teller on the Cold River Radio Show.
Bee is a performing artist (storytelling in first person narrative), runs a farm in NC, and is a full-time foster parent. Current projects include a novel and a memoir about growing up gay in the south in the 1960’s.