Regardless of whether you’re straight, in the closet, just came out, or have proudly been your fabulous self for years, you likely have an image of what being queer looks like. But, is there really a distinguishable queer look? Do the stereotypes have any
There are some queer people who present themselves as a walking kaleidoscope of colours, but that’s not the case for everyone. Outside of LGBTQIA+ spaces, our queerness can be indistinguishable from everyone else. You’ve probably sat next to us in a tute, or lecture, without any clue of our sexuality. You might have even made an assumption based on the lack of visible rainbow. But, there is no real way to look queer. Choosing not to wear certain clothes or accessories doesn’t make anyone less of a queer person. People just have their own style.
Unfortunately, certain stereotypes still exist though, no matter how positive some of them may seem on the surface. For instance, gay men are considered inherently fashionable. While this can be considered to be a pervasive ‘positive stereotype,’ the downside of this is an expectation that gay men should always dress well, and be judged harshly if they don’t. The queer person you’ve just met, or even the queer friends you’ve known for ages, aren’t your personal shoppers. Sure, they might be happy to help you, but that’s not a function of their queerness—it might be simply because they’re an individual who likes to give style advice.
Honestly, the best fashion tip for yourself is to try things out, and discover what aesthetic works for you. Pro tip: go
With any community, there’s usually a generation gap between the young and old. This is no exception for queer people. Even the word ‘queer’ is fraught with disagreement. For the newer generations, it’s typically considered to be an inclusive umbrella term, while for mature folk, it usually remains a slur. Nevertheless, it is now predominantly considered an empowering form of repurposing that attempts to extinguish decades of discrimination. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, the historical context for the queer community’s social norms, and its subcultures, derives from a deliberate effort to rebel against heteronormativity. Much of it has evolved from behaviour based on either necessity, lack of legal alternatives, or deliberate acts of defiance.
When it comes down to it, being queer is more than just rainbow flags, pastel hair, and high fashion. Wear whatever it is you want to, but don’t target those who have a different aesthetic. With that said, don’t limit yourself to other people and their expectations just because of the label you use to define yourself. Gender diverse people can be as masculine or feminine as they please, and straight people can wear rainbow without being queer. In the end, all you need to worry about is being the best possible version of yourself.
Words by The Rainbow Club
Artwork by Victoria Casson
This piece was originally published in Edition 30.