California tattoo artist raising money for Selma LGBTQ nonprofit

Cedre, an Oakland non-binary tattoo artist, was inspired to create something to help raise awareness of trans issues six months back, in the midst of a flood of anti-transgender legislation. The couple were born in Austin, Texas. They also wanted it to be of benefit to LGBTQ people in Southern States, where the majority of transphobic bills were being approved.

They decided to use their skills as a way of raising funds for a LGBTQ nonprofit in Alabama and also building a sense community. You can make a donation of $500 directly to this charity. The Knights and Orchids SocietyCsillagi, a Black-led LGBTQ service provider, is offering a limited number sessions each month. They will ink you with a pansy design.

Csillagi said that the idea is to spread love and solidarity, and everyone has one. It will be a symbol or imagery that queers and their allies can wear.

The project has been called A Thousand Pansies. Their goal is to get 1,000 pansy-themed tattoos. They plan to share the design and encourage other tattoo artists to do the same by the end. Csillagi will ink 13 people in early December with the pansy, including the one on the left shin. This is their first time getting a tattoo in the area.

Csillagi said that more than $5,200 has already been raised from people who get a tattoo or decide to donate money to the campaign, even though they don’t wish to ink.

Csillagi stated that although the number of thousand may seem daunting, it is achievable if everyone works together and there are many of us.

Embraced quickly

Officially, the pansy campaign for tattoos was launched in September. People who have tattoos immediately accepted it. Author and activist feminist Kate Schatz (44), a queer and lesbian Alameda resident, was one of the first to sign up.

Schatz had Csillagi tattooed her years before and they added the pansy to her right arm, just below her bicep. Schatz also said Lauren Pariani, Schatz’s wife, wants the tattoo. This would be the first ever time that they have had the same tattoo.

“Why wouldn’t I? It aligned with many things that I care about,” Schatz said. Schatz co-authored “Do The Work: A Antiracist Activity Book” with W. Kamau Bell. Cedre’s work is my favorite. Cedre’s artwork is a great honor. It is also personal. I want my tattoos to be meaningful.”

Schatz was not aware of any similar tattoo campaigns and said she liked the idea of a group tattoo in solidarity with others. She added that the design is also “beautiful”.

Schatz stated that getting a tattoo is both significant for you personally and also part in a collective effort. This can also be tied to doing meaningful mutual aid fundraising. “It just brings together all of these things that I think are so important.”

Christina Nicholson, spokesperson for TKO Society, told the B.A.R. that a London film crew visited the TKO Society in July. This was on top of an already busy schedule for staff. There was no one available to interview by telephone. In an email reply she stated that the nonprofit was delighted when Csillagi contacted them about their fundraising proposal.

“We are forever grateful to those who fundraise for our clients and our ability meet their needs.” Cedre was so involved in this fundraiser and has been in constant communication with us. This has made it different, Nicholson said. “It’s great to know how much they care about us achieving this goal.

Its acronym stands for Knowledgeable Noble Independent Gifted Honorable Soldiers (Knights), and Overcoming Racism, Classism Heteronormativity (Orchids). It plans to buy its Selma building in December for $90,000. In 2024, it may purchase the Montgomery building for $250,000.

Jennine Bell is TKO’s finance director. She estimates that another $500,000 will be needed to complete the renovations of the Selma property. The project is expected to be completed in three years. A reopening date is planned for May or June 2024.

A number of Alabama families sued to stop the state from enforcing a law that would make parents and doctors criminal for providing necessary medical care to their transgender children. The lawsuit, which is being litigated by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, is currently before U.S. 11. Circuit Court of Appeals was created in May after a federal court judge had blocked the law.

Csillagi selected the TKO Society to benefit from the tattoo campaign partly for the numerous health and wellbeing services it provides its local LGBTQ community. Their fundraising initiative was able to help them reach their goal of buying the building.

They were extremely responsive and goal-oriented. Csillagi stated that they were one of the two places she reached out to. They were eager to help me with my project and were very responsive. They are severely underfunded. It is just that there needs to be more money flowing into places like Alabama.

They hope to benefit other transgender agencies through the initiative. Csillagi originally considered donating money to a Texas-based agency, but they couldn’t find one that would suit their needs. Either the nonprofit was too small, or it was already financially strong.

Csillagi said, “I would really love to do a spot in Texas because there is intense legislation dealing with trans people right now.” “My friends and my siblings who have trans children are leaving the country because they don’t feel safe.”

Schatz hadn’t heard of Csillagi until she saw Csillagi’s Alabama initiative. It inspired Schatz to research it further and learn more about the services and programs it offers.

Schatz said, “A lot people often ask me where to donate to” and that she now has another organization on her list. Schatz also appreciated the fact that her donation went to a smaller nonprofit in her community than to a large national group with likely ties to major donors.

Schatz said, “In times like these, when people feel overwhelmed and at a loss as to what to do in this world, I really appreciate Cedre finding a way to bring the tattoo industry together and support this organization, and really get people involved.”

Preeti mistry, 46, is also sporting the pansy tattoo. She is a queer, transgender, and non-conforming resident of Sebastopol, in the North Bay. On November 1, the former Oakland restaurant owner got their tattoo on their elbow on their right arm.

It’s right above the tattoo of a curry leaf plant that Csillagi had previously given to them on their right forearm. Mistry was contacted by the tattoo artist in fall about the pansy tattoo design. They told the B.A.R.

Mistry stated, “I thought that it was really beautiful.” “I felt that it speaks to their talent. And I think that is the thing with movements and resistance. Each person has their place. While none of us can do everything, we all can make a difference.

The B.A.R. met Mistry the morning before. Mistry and the B.A.R. spoke to Mistry after they saw news coverage about Texas officials implementing their own law making it illegal for parents not to allow their transgender kids to have gender-affirming health care. Mistry, a well-known chef, is helping to spread the word about the pansy campaign through their celebrity status.

“I feel that one thing that has been a very significant item in my personal and professional lives is the constant use of my platform. And not only that, but also the meaning that I bring to my work and life. Mistry said that they believe we are living in very dangerous times in the world. He added that they don’t want privileges taken for granted. “I am going use the privilege I have in order to try and do better for so many people who continue being hurt by these ridiculous laws.”

Csillagi, 44 years old, was born in Houston but has lived in Oakland ever since 1999. In 2005, they opened Diving Swallow Tattoo in East Bay. Three years later, they brought on Rocio Wolf Arteaga as a co-owner. Arteaga is queer and notbinary.

Csillagi and Csillagi first met at Black and Blue Tattoo San Francisco in 2001, where Csillagi was an apprentice. Csillagi, a highly-respected tattoo artist, has been booked for regular clients through 2024.

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Cedre Csillagi’s pansy design. Photo: Courtesy Cedre Csillagi  

Because they wanted an image that was already a queer symbol, they settled on the pansy design for the special tattoo campaign. Pansy was once a derogatory term used by gay men in particular. However, the LGBTQ community reclaimed the word. Perhaps most famously, Pansy Division from San Francisco.

Csillagi studied the word’s past and learned about the Pansy Craze of 1920s and 1930s that was focused on underground drag ball. This also contributed to their reputation for creating horticultural-inspired tattoo designs.

Csillagi explained, “I specialize in realistic botany.” “I do flowers a lot. It felt natural to choose an image of a bloom.

They see it as a nod toward the guerrilla-art project by Paul Harfleet. The “The Known as” Pansy ProjectHarfleet, who was a homophobic attack victim in Manchester, England in 1965, began planting pansies to counter the attacks. Since then, he has done the same in other cities all over the world.

Csillagi stated, “That really confirmed that the pansy had been right.” “I feel right whenever I see a Pansy, art-wise or not, anywhere in the world.

Each person gets the exact same pansy-inspired tattoo design. Csillagi said that it is only possible to use black or grey ink to keep costs down and make it more accessible for other tattoo artists.

Schatz said, “I cannot wait to go some random place on vacation and see one.” “It will be amazing to spot it in the wild. It was fun to see how people got them even on Instagram.

Csillagi was mentioned by the B.A.R. They have a trans celebrity that they would love to see join their community with the pansy tattoo.

They stated that they have high-level goals to tattoo Elliot Page. “They are one among the most prominent trans nonbinary persons that are just really putting themselves in the line for violence, essentially because they want to be in public view.”

Csillagi posts photos and updates about the people who have the pansy tat to the internet. Instagram page With the hashtags #a1000pansies, #athousandpansies & #pansytattoo

They also created a website Csillagi regularly releases new times and dates for each month. Here you can find information about the campaign as well as sign up to receive emailed updates regarding how to book an appointment to get tattooed by a pansy.

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