The surprising and very NSFW meaning behind this popular LGBTQ+ tattoo

A tattoo artist working and a man with a double armband tattoo

The double arm band tattoo has a very specific LGBTQ+ meaning, and you might be surprised to find out what it is.

Spoiler alert: it’s definitely not one you’d want to explain to an elderly relative, unless they’re very open-minded, that is.

Everyone’s heard the story of someone accidentally getting a beautiful tattoo in a different language, only to find out that it means something rude… but have you heard of the man who accidentally got a fisting tattoo?

Well, there’s a first for everything, and it turns out this is a more common phenomenon than you may realise.

Many people have been debating the meaning behind the popular double arm band LGBTQ+ tattoo online, which has been linked to a well known porn star, and also the act of anal fisting.

But does it really have origins in LGBTQ+ BDSM, or has the arm band tattoo now outgrown this meaning, thanks to its popularity? Let’s find out.

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Is the tattoo an LGBTQ+ sign?

In a similar way to the how the carabiner has become synonymous with queer women – but to the untrained eye it’s just a heavy-duty clip used in rock climbing – this arm band tattoo has become popular with gay men.

“I have a double arm band tattoo,” user and author Mr Lewis Laney shared on TikTok, revealing two dark bands on his forearm, the one above the other double the size.

“I often get asked [by] gay men what it means. They assume that it has something to do with fisting. The origins of these tattoos allegedly do come from fisting and it’s how far (down someone’s ass) you can go.”

He was seemingly not completely aware of the more sexual meaning behind the LGBTQ+ arm band tattoo when he got it, but offered his explanation as to why he wanted these monochrome bars.

“For me, that is not the case though. I saw this tattoo on a porn star called Brent Everett when I was in my early 20s… When I turned 30 I got it, and I still like it!”

Essentially, the arm band has seemingly become a visual shorthand for someone’s fisting technique, but when did this tattoo style become popularised?

Four years ago on Reddit, a user asked “Why do so many gay guys have that double arm band tattoo? Literally so many gay guys have this tattoo… Is there some kind of meaning behind it that I’m unaware of?”

Amongst the answers, one user explains: “Its hidden meaning is to say ‘I’m a fister and the band represents how far I go in’.”

Another noted: “I think Brent Everett is responsible for popularising it,” which ties in with Laney’s TikTok.

Brent Everett is a professional adult actor who performs in gay porn, he also has a double dark arm band tattoo.

Alternative arm band tattoo meaning

These aren’t the only interpretations of the arm band tattoos though, some are on the more wholesome side.

For instance, some point to the band being illustrative to how far can you reach into a Pringles can, which is also a very important skill.

Another notes: “I thought those arm band tattoos that lots of gays have were supposed to look like an equal (=) sign which was supposed to be a statement about LGBTQ+ equality.”

Also, a single, thick black arm band tattoo is often used to symbolise mourning. Solid arm band tattoos can also signify strength and luck: the “strength” version of the tattoo is worn on the bicep.

Tyler Joseph, the frontman of Twenty One Pilots, has a tattoo of two arm bands. Some fans have got the same tattoo to pay homage to the singer. The 35-year-old artist is regarded as a strong ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

However, more widely, it’s best not to assume anyone’s tattoo has any particular meaning: it could simply be that someone wanted to get two black arm band tattoos on their body. If might mean “equality” to them, or it may mean nothing. It could also have been a way to cover up an older tattoo.

Having said that, if some people in the LGBTQ+ community see it as a way to send a covert message about their sexual preferences, then that’s absolutely fine too, of course.

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