Tattoo artist launching shop for LGBT people in Halifax

"I'm hoping to have more of a barber shop environment, so we can talk about whatever we want to talk about," says Gabe David.

'It’s a space where people can feel comfortable learning about each other,' says Gabe David

Gabe David is shown in her private studio in Halifax. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Professional tattoo artist Gabe David is planning to launch a tattoo shop in Halifax for LGBT people to share their experiences and empower one another.

"I'm hoping to have more of a barbershop environment so we can talk about whatever we want to talk about," said David, also known as squigglysqualor on Instagram.

Outlaw Country Tattoo will be located at the corner of North and Clifton streets, and work is underway to get the new space ready by October.

David plans to open Outlaw Country Tattoo in October. (Steve Berry/CBC)

David has been a tattoo artist for nearly five years and said in her experience many tattoo shops discourage workers from talking about politically related issues.

"I'm hoping that our queer tattoo shop will have more space to talk about more politics such as decolonization, racism, whiteness, ableism and so much more," David said.

"It's a space where people can feel comfortable learning about each other."

The tattoo shop will be located at the corner of North and Clifton streets in Halifax. (Steve Berry/CBC)

The shop will also try to solve some of the issues she said LGBT people face in many tattoo shops.

"Gender neutral pronouns and respect would be the biggest two issues," said David.

When people get tattoos, David said they're very vulnerable because they're taking off their clothes and "getting someone to change their bodies forever."

"There is a high volume in the queer population wanting tattoos because of a lot of reasons, but one of those reasons is that as queers we love to take back our bodies and have control over it," said David.

She said LGBT people need a space that respects their sense of self-love and self-ownership.

Outlaw Country Tattoo will cater to LGBT people. (Steve Berry/CBC)

"You would think that would be very easy, really simple, but it's actually quite challenging to even just have respect from other people," said David, who said she has been harassed in bathrooms for looking and dressing like a male.

Many people from the LGBT community go by different pronouns, such as "their" and "them," that are considered an important part of who they are and how they present themselves.

"People need to come to a space where their pronouns will be respected and used, so that's a challenging one to explain to people who aren't around it as often or who aren't queer," said David, whose best friend and manager is a transgender male.

Tucker Bottomley is working to get the new space ready. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Tucker Bottemley is currently working with David at her private studio, answering emails and booking appointments.

"As a high school dropout and as a trans person I've always struggled with finding jobs and feeling comfortable working in spaces where I didn't feel scared or anxious, so for me she's literally creating a job for me," said Bottomley.

Both David and Bottomley are working to get the new space ready by October.

"I could continue a life happily ever after having my own space, setting my own rules, and I will feel comfort and security there," said David.

"But I feel like it makes more of an impact for me to be able to share my resources and expand to be able to offer the same to other tattoo artists who really need it in this town."

About the Author

Aya Al-Hakim

Reporter

Aya Al-Hakim is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. She can be reached at aya.al-hakim@cbc.ca.