We’ve spoken in some length in other articles regarding the reasons and motivations for tattoo removal and hard empirical studies into the reasons why people want to have tattoo removal. We’ve even spoken about the “end of history illusion” in which people are less likely to imagine their future selves. A lot of reasons may seem trite in comparison to wanting go have tattoo removal because you were once part of a gang and racist tattoos adorned on your body.
Let’s look at the amazing story of Bryon Widner. Bryon Widner was once a member and the founder of the Vilanders gang of skinhead. Widner was married in 2006 and had a child together. His wife’s children also embraced him as a father. However, although he had made a tremendous effort to change his past behavior with the help and love support of his family, he found it extremely difficult outside his family and skinhead gang to find opportunities for work and acceptance by the general population. He was an outcast in the most common places we usually take for granted like supermarkets.
Deciding to leave the skinhead gang and culture is also a double-edged sword. Having decided to leave, he was put into danger by other gang members seeking harm to him and his family. Widner decided his only way to redemption was to seek laser tattoo removal, which he knew would be an excruciating and agonizing procedure. However, seeking tattoo removal laser surgery was expensive. Widner had no job and not enough cash to pay for it. His wife, Julie reached out to an anti-hate group called One People’s Project for help. Through the group, they found T. J. Leyden a former neo Nazi skinhead. Leyden put Widner in contact with the Southern Poverty Law Center and through an anonymous donor they had enough money to begin the tattoo removal process.
Even with the danger of his family and himself Widner decided to be filmed for a documentary. Widner was on the documentary “Erasing Hate”. By going public, Widner explains, “Maybe some angry teenager will realize I wasn’t on any great mission for the white race. I was just a thug. If my story can help someone out there, then great.” Through out the whole process, Widner went through 25 agonizing surgeries over 16 months to completely remove his tattoos. When the documentary aired, Widner and his family moved to an undisclosed location to live a normal and happy life. There are many resources for gang tattoo removal. You can check our other post for gang tattoo removal help.