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Raelyn Gallina Needs Help

Raelyn Gallina Needs Help

Raelyn Gallina is a giant of the piercing industry, and the piercing scene in Philadelphia wouldn’t be the same without her. In the early 90s, before there was a piercing studio in Philly (much less multiple studios), Raelyn used to come through town and offer her piercing, branding, and scarification services through women’s BDSM groups like Female Trouble. She helped to create a safe space for women (and men), and set the template for what piercing would become here. Without Raelyn, there would be no Infinite.

Raelyn battled inflammatory breast cancer over ten years ago, and is now dealing with a recurrence that returned to sites in her brain, bones, mediastinum and lungs. She finished a course of 25 radiation sessions last June and has spent the fall and winter recovering. Although that radiation did a good job on many sites, Raelyn is still undergoing radiation treatments. A GoFundMe page has been set up to get financial help for Raelyn Gallina and her long-term partner, Babs. If you know Raelyn, know of Raelyn, or just know her work, you’re encouraged to help out—even if it’s just a little bit.

In 2009, after my first year as President of the Association of Professional Piercers, I was lucky enough to be able to honor Raelyn with the APP’s President’s Award. This was my speech, as included in The Point #48:

“I would like to say this year’s APP President’s Award recipient needs no introduction. I would like to say this—but unfortunately, I can’t. I hope to start to change this, tonight.

“The accepted history of body piercing in this country is usually spoken of—and written—as one with two fathers (and a paternal grandfather in Doug Malloy): Jim Ward, as the man to take it from the gay male leather underground in San Francisco and inch it toward the mainstream with the founding of both Gauntlet and PFIQ magazine; and Fakir, as the one to champion the role of ritual in piercing and its origins in earlier cultures.

While our industry would not exist—at least in the form it is in today—without their contributions, there was another figure—working a little later, but following a similar path—who was just as influential in shaping piercing in a different community: among women.

And this is women with a ‘y’, Womyn who took body modification—not just piercing, but branding and scarification as well—and made it part of their lives. At a time when feminists were leading the movement to politicize the body, she was creating a safe space for lesbians, leatherwomen, butches, femmes, the queer-identified, and the occasional man as well; men like me.

She was a pioneer in piercing, branding, and scarification, and even one of the early organizers of the APP, and without her influence I would not be here today. It is a great honor to give this year’s President’s Award to Raelyn Gallina.”

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