As Orlando works to recover from the massacre at the Pulse nightclub, Mike Romero is doing his part to help heal the community he loves.
Romero, an artist with Orlando's Realm Tattoo parlor, spent this weekend giving anyone who wanted free "One Pulse" tattoos. Any money people donated was handed over to Southern Nights, a local LGBTQ nightclub, to be distributed to those immediately affected by the Pulse shooting, LGBTQ Nation reported.
According to the Associated Press, people stood in line for as long as three hours to receive one of Romero's six commemorative tattoos, many of which featured a stylized electrocardiograph design over an "equality" symbol. A post on Realm Tattoo's Facebook page said that Romero has pledged to continue offering his tattoos "until he has tattooed everyone that wants one."
"It's definitely a lot bigger to me than just a tattoo," Shane Alexander Young told the AP. "It's my community, and it definitely means a lot more to me than just getting any other tattoo."
Melody Maia Monet, an Orlando photographer, told LGBTQ Nation that as of Sunday morning, over $5,000 had been raised by Romero from his tattoos, alone. On Instagram, Monet, whose YouTube channel describes her as "(not your) Average Transwoman," posted a picture of her One Pulse tattoo, writing:
Until today, my only tattoo commemorated the end of my transition. I didn't seriously plan to get another one, but then the world changed. One Love. One Pulse.
According to Monet, Romero inked so many "One Pulse" tattoos that he had run out of equipment, and was waiting for a new shipment of supplies from Amazon in order to continue.
On Realm Tattoo's Facebook page, users have begun posting pictures and videos of their new ink, as well as sharing messages of support for Romero, and one another. One commenter wrote: "I don't care how long I have to wait..I'm getting a tat from this beautiful soul right here!" Another said, "Mike is part of OUR COMMUNITY. He is part of OUR FAMILY."
"It's my way that I can give back," Romero explained to the AP. "It started as something small. I didn't think it would turn into this."
You can find all of Fusion’s coverage of the Orlando shootings here.