I still remember the first time I decided to forgo a dress for a special occasion, and wear my dress pants and a blazer. I was working a gala for a local non profit during my freshman year of college, and I had begun to explore a more ‘butch’ style of clothing. I eagerly showed my co-workers and bosses my planned outfit, feeling excitement and just a touch of rebellion. Although I had been very openly out with my sexuality since about a year prior, to be expressing my queer identity through my clothes was something that I was (and still am) learning.
Around the time of my coming out, I remember I would preach to my peers and family that you could never judge a person’s sexuality based on their style or clothing preferences. Straight women can have short hair, lesbians can wear lipstick, etc. While I still stand by this sentiment, as I’ve grown in my queer identity, I keep asking myself the same question– what about those of us whose goal is for their style to scream their sexuality? I love expressing my queer identity through my button ups and flannels, and I like knowing that most people can tell I’m gay just by looking at me. I think there are many reasons for this: I like breaking outside of societal expectations and being able to express something that I felt I had to keep hidden for so long puts me in control over my identity and how I am perceived by others.
Queer expression is a tool of resistance. In our society, simply just the act of being queer, of existing, can be seen as political. And for me personally, it gives me power to uplift my sexuality, in the face of political and personal adversity. I am rebelling against heteronormative and patriarchal norms society expects from me and this seemingly small act of resisting norms and expectations can be powerful.
I love being queer. I love being a part of the queer community, I love the people I love, and I love being able to express that through my appearance. And living in a society that attacks this radical self-love has made that love part of my resistance.