I usually love when someone can tell that I'm genderqueer. Since finding the courage to come out and start living life as my authentic self, queer visibility, especially through my aesthetic and sartorial choices, has empowered me. But after the tragic and unquestionably queerphobic events in Orlando recently, it's been difficult to keep feeling this way. Sure, I still love my bright pastel lipsticks. I still adore pairing a compression bra with a smart button-up. But celebrating my queerness through my presentation and wardrobe suddenly started to feel too dangerous. I felt guilty about wanting to hide my queerness, when so many of my trans brothers/sisters/siblings do not have the privilege of doing so (particularly my femme friends).
Reacting to the PULSE shooting with fear, specifically when you're part of the queer community, is natural. With homophobia and transphobia still running rampant in our society, and our government doing very little to restrict gun purchases at large, it's hard not to take cover and choose an outfit based on survival instinct. But at the end of the day, we shouldn't have to live in fear of being ourselves.
In the same vein as the "she wore that, so she was clearly asking for it" discussion surrounding sexual assault, being persecuted for how we present is not our fault. The answer isn't to abandon our queer aesthetics, but rather to prevent violent homophobic acts like Orlando from happening again. By refusing to abandon our queer sartorial choices without apology, we can be part of that shift. Here are some reasons you should embrace your queer presentation.
1. You Deserve It
No insensitive comment or violent act can ever take away your right to being your most authentic self. This is your body — embrace who you are without apology.
2. It's Brave
While you're entitled to your sexual/gender identity and expressing it through your style, not everyone is going to agree with your choices. Being out and visible can be a lot like entering a battlefield, with your outfit as your armor and your lipstick as your sword. Remind yourself of how brave you are every day for being unapologetically queer, because it takes work. Trust me, I know.
3. Glitter Is The Best
Although excessive use of glitter reminds me first and foremost of the '90s child I once was, it's also reminiscent of queer kid club looks and opulent drag shows. Slather it on because it's gorgeous and queer AF.
4. Neutral Tones Can Be Boring
Forget "gender neutral" brands with all their browns, blacks, and grays. Rock your fave color on the daily without apology.
5. No Night Is Truly Complete Without Lipstick
Slather it on in any color or style you want. You look fab.
6. You're A Trendsetter
Haters or not, your alternative beauty looks will serve as major inspo for many who see them. You are ultimately representing trends celebrated in your community. Embrace that!
7. Our Instagram Feeds Need It
Queer visibility in the media is something that can always be improved upon. Most importantly, other queer kids could really benefit from seeing fellow beauty mavens who look like them. Add to the conversation with your lovely selfies.
8. It's Political
The way we combat hate is arguably through love and awareness. Be the change you want to see through your selfies and your rad shoe choices.
9. Because Femininity = Strength
Femininity is heavily stigmatized, especially when those who were assigned male at birth embrace it. That makes you pretty darn strong for being your femme self. Plus, everything feminine is just rad.
10. Masculinity Is Powerful As Well
Photograph that crazy jawline, only made more prominent with your contouring kit. Rock those boy shorts and your fave snapback. Masculinity is just as powerful, and remember: No matter what you were assigned at birth, any aesthetic is wholly yours if you want it to be.
11. Because We're Not Going Away
There's no sense in hiding. The fact is: We are here, we are queer, and we are never going away. No amount of hatred or bigotry could change how we feel or who we are. And we're not about to let ignorance beat us.
Of course, when embracing your queer aesthetic, it may be necessary or wise to do so with some caution depending on how you feel and where you live. But there are a myriad of small ways to embrace this part of yourself through beauty; ways that could be just as affirming as the more hyper-visible methods.
The bottom line? Abandoning our identities and letting hate win is not the answer. Whether everyone else likes it or not, many of us queers will continue to strut the streets with our dresses, heels, chest binders, and button-ups proudly and without apology. Just as we should.
Images: Meg Zulch/Skylar Belt; Wikimedia Commons (1)