Ignorance MUST Be Bliss

Last week my Sister and I went to get tattoos on Fremont St at Rockstar Tattoo, while on vacation in Las Vegas.  Mind you this is my third tattoo since I was diagnosed HIV Positive.  Anyways, as always I like to make the tattoo artist aware of my status because, well, I know not many people do and I want them to be aware that anyone who walks in that door could very well be HIV Positive and simply not tell them. Plus, I just wouldn’t feel right not disclosing my status to someone who is going to be exposed to my blood so intimately. Well this time was a little different from my previous two experiences…

The tattoo artist had me fill out a short health questionnaire and one of the questions was “Are you HIV Positive?” Of course I answered the question honestly and handed him the form after I had completed it. He then asked me if I was nervous and I replied yes and informed him that I was Positive and asked if that was going to be a problem? His response literally broke my heart. He shouted across the shop to another tattoo artist, “Hey, whats our policy on tattooing people with HIV? And what’s the set up for that?” Well this shocked me and quite frankly embarrassed the hell out of me! Tears just started streaming down my cheeks, you see I cry when I get angry, sometimes I wish I didn’t because it prohibits me from saying the things I would really like to say. I looked over at my sister to see if she was hearing this and yes, yes she was. I guess I wanted her to march over there and kick his ass for me but I think she was just as shocked as I was. She asked him if he was joking because I mean he had to be joking right? Um no, he was not joking, not at all. He then proceeded to tell me that he was not comfortable tattooing someone who is HIV Positive. This comment was like salt on the wound and only made the tears come faster! Eventually I was able to compose myself enough to ask him if he really thought I was the first HIV Positive person to walk into this shop and get a tattoo? His response left me speechless, he said YES I was the first person. All I could think is how stupid could you be? I’m just the first person to tell you! You flipping idiot!! He then proceeded to tell me that he has tattooed thousands of people and I was the first HIV Positive person to ever walk through the door. I think what pissed me off the most was that I found myself trying to explain to this imbecile that I take medicine everyday and I’m undetectable, it was like I was trying to make excuses for myself. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible.

Thankfully another tattoo artist came to the rescue and said he had no qualms with doing my tattoo. Had he waited another 30 seconds we would have walked out and taken our business elsewhere. The Artist named Ray who did my tattoo for me really did a great job and I am thankful for him.