Inky What?

| 1/6/2015 10:22:00 AM

Body Modification

Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and “unusual” social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.

Hi Tim,
I am a girl, 18 living at home and attending college. My family belongs to a popular church that is known for being very strict about lifestyles. My sister, 23, goes to college in a huge city 400 miles away. She brought her new boyfriend home for Christmas to meet everyone. He is into painting and photography, and nice looking but covered in tattoos, completely covering one arm and has his tongue and lip pierced. We usually call people who cover themselves in tattoos “inky-stinkies,” and we don't make fun of them but certainly would never date one! After all, they obviously don't respect themselves if they can’t even respect their skin. My father had a serious talk with my sister; they argued and haven’t spoken since. I don't know how to feel. He seems nice with a good job, polite and only mildly weird but all the tattoos just make him look like a maniac. Are we being too hard on him, and was my father out of line? I'm struggling with how tattoos have anything to do with morals. — Ink Stinks

Hi Ink Stinks,
Thanks for introducing me to “inky-stinky,” reminding me once again that no group can escape being stereotyped and slapped with a custom, artfully-crafted slur. Body modification has nothing to do with morals. I do not care for tattoos or piercings myself; the human body is more interesting to me au naturel, but they also do not bother me at all, and they are not a reliable indicator of character. This may be why they are more acceptable than ever in public places outside military, blue collar and artistic communities: corporate, finance, education, and even government are gradually ignoring body art, which I barely notice anymore. People own their respective bodies, and should be able to embellish their mortal coils with whatever they please. Ignore the ink and get to know the person your sister has chosen.

There is generally no objection when humans decorate themselves with other unnatural adornments like makeup and jewelry. Unless perhaps, the institution representing your family’s particular faith forbids any and every harmless thing that its members may indulge in to express or even just amuse themselves. That is a level of control over your life that you may be considering as excessive and inappropriate. If you are, I think you are on to something.

Brotherly Love

Hi Tim,
I'm a 21 year-old, gay man recently kicked out of my home by my parents, because I came out to them. My straight but accepting brother who’s three years older took me in; we’ve always gotten along well and have a really pleasant roommate arrangement now. We want to continue to live together, but I have one serious problem. I’m in love with him. I should explain; we were all adopted by our parents from foster homes but our adoptive parents are very cold, unemotional people. They were verbally and emotionally abusive and never showed affection or gave praise. The only attention we got was punishment when we did something wrong. I think it’s because we were so starved for affection that he and I had a mutually consenting sexual relationship in our teens. Our parents don’t know about it, nor anyone else but after my brother left home at 20 it’s like it never happened. We’ve never mentioned it since, even while living together. I’m having more and more trouble ignoring him since we’re alone in the apartment, sitting on the couch together or seeing each other partially clothed, etc. It especially hurts when he goes on dates with women. Tim, we’re not biologically related. Should I “come out” to him and tell him that I want nothing more than to pick up where we left off and try being a real, loving couple? — Bromance

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