“The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody”- Rita Mae Brown
Inclusivity has always been the motto of the fashion industry. Be it size, color, Pride, or any other concept built by the society, the fashion industry and beauty industry have always had a mind of its own. The Indian fashion designers, global makeup industry, international fashion brands, and organizations representing fashion and beauty do not know to discriminate instead they purely judge you on the basis of your talent.
Queers have had a special place in the fashion and beauty industry, be it the famous Indian fashion designer Wendell Rodricks or the renowned Rohit Bal and Anwesh Sahoo a fashion illustrator and model, they all are well celebrated for their talent and work.
An umbrella term for those whose sexual desires don’t align with the societal concept of love, marriage, and unanimity, queers are termed as a minority whose sexual preferences are non-heterosexual.
Who are queers?
In very simple terms, gays, lesbians, transgender, bisexual, and cisgender are the people who are considered to be a part of the queer umbrella. They either have different sexual preferences or are the ones who have fought through to create an identity as another gender.
Is Being Queer a Crime?
Historically, queers have been for as long as the Roman Empire where gays were a part of the society and there was no question of acceptance or non-acceptance, as it was considered to be normal. The sacred and ancient text of India- ‘Kamasutra’ has a whole chapter dedicated to homosexuality, considering it to be a form of love and sexual pleasure.
Homosexuality was not well-thought-out as inferior or queer in the Indian subcontinent until it was colonized by the British. Even across Europe gender and preference diversity have prevailed since ancient times, it was only conquests, migrations, and influence of religion that started to see queers as against the set dogma.
Legally, being queer and getting involved in a same-sex relationship has recently evolved gaining a broader perspective in many legal books. It was just in 2017, that Indian Supreme Court passed the LGBTQ community to live with freedom of expression protecting their rights and status under the Right to Privacy Act. In 2015 homosexuality became legal in America, across all its states.
2000 was marked as the year when EU states opened its legal doors for the LGBT community making it normal in the society and banning any discrimination on the basis of the same. Australia charts the highest scores in being open and progressive; it repealed all the anti-homosexuality laws between 1975- 1997, making it a freely expressive continent for the LGBTQ community.
In the Middle East, 10 out of 18 countries perceive homosexuality as a sin and crime. There are strict laws pertaining to same-sex love and sexual relations.
Homo Sexuality or the society along with the acceptance of varied preferences of people depends upon the history, culture, and religion first followed by the legal system. Many even though living in nations where law supports LGBTQ or queers face discrimination on an everyday basis from the people.
Does The Global Fashion Industry Support Queers?
It is common thinking prevalent in the minds of many-
Fashion designer! Must be gay! This brings us to think whether or not the fashion industry has been supportive of LGBTQ or queer for a long time?
Fashion has always been an expression of freedom and uniqueness. There is room for all sorts of creativity. Here talent, connections, and glam are valued more than the societal and religious disposition. It always sees the difference as unique and supports progressive thoughts whether it is through mixing cultures in outfits or standing for social causes like LGBTQ rights, Queers, and Pride Parades (outdoor event celebrating lesbian, gay, Tran’s gender, bisexual, queers.). Many fashion designers who have defined the latest fashion for the world were gays but could not speak of it openly due to societal pressure like Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga. But with time, fashion changed into an industry where reforms would be supported and social acts that would take the society and its people forward would be initiated.
- Ashleigh Good and Kati Nescher in 2013, walked hand in hand on the ramp to support France’s marriage equality movement in the Spring 13, Chanel Couture Show.
- Indian fashion designer Monisha Jaising on her 2017 show at the Lakme Fashion Week invited Anjali Lama a Trans Gender model to walk for her.
- Another Indian fashion designer Ashish Gupta during 2017, dressed models, turn after turn in sequence outfits with slogans like- ‘ love sees no color’, Why be blue when you can be gay’.
- In 2019, Pierre Davis walked as the first Transgender model at the New York Fashion Week.
- Fashion brand – Asos created a collection of rainbow graphic outfits, the net profit of the same was donated to GLAAD along with sponsoring the Pride Parade at Los Angeles.
- Marc Jacobs added six shades of Pride to its best selling Enamored Lip Lacquer Collection.
- Celebrated Indian fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, who always wore his identity of being gay, gave Mona Varonica Campbell a plus size Transgender model, a chance to walk on the ramp at the Lakme Fashion Week.
- Lakme Fashion week in 2018 had collaborated with India Culture Lab and Verve Magazine for Queer Fashion.
- Many Indian clothing brands like Bloni and Huemn are also breaking gender biasness by creating gender fluid garments, rebelling against the conservative thinking in their own creative way.
These are just a few of the many instances where the global fashion industry has tried to break the wall of unacceptance in the minds of the people for the LGBTQ community.
The Beauty Industry and LGBTQ
The beauty industry and its hacks have been there for centuries. From painting nails with bee wax and egg whites to color paints flooding the markets, beauty has come a long way. Another very interesting aspect of the beauty industry is how it unintentionally or even purposely supports the LGBTQ community, giving them a chance to follow a profession and be respected at it.
Apart from this, a large chunk of buyers of the beauty products is those related to the LGBTQ community; drag queens and Transgender. Hence somewhere the industry is creating a balance between supporting a community that is one of its users and changers.
Jacob Tobia an LGBTQ community member told DazedDigital what makeup means to his life “Makeup has certainly changed my life. For me, makeup has been a tool through which I’ve been able to reconnect with my femininity in a world that has often shamed it. It has been a way to make my identity visible. When it comes down to it, it’s a source of power in my life. In moments when I feel most empowered, self-actualized, and defiant, I’m almost always wearing a bold lip.”
The beauty industry involving cosmetics, surgeries, products, and services such as salons enacts as a powerful tool for the LGBTQ community where they can express and enhance their self through creativity and desire.
The queers are also changing the face of the beauty industry by introducing their own beauty product lines.
- Isabella Giancarlo: The Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Fluide New York- Fluide was introduced as a queer beauty brand, with a tag line Make Up the Rules. It is one of the most appreciated brands.
- Jessica Blackler: Founder at Jecca Blac, London- A former makeup artist in London, Jessica created this brand to go gender-free in makeup. Being an LGBTQ member, Jessica’s brand celebrates the community feeling.
- Andrew Glass: Founder at Non Gender Specific, Atlanta- As a gay man, the focus is on breaking gender and segmentation in the beauty industry, the brand has a cruelty free and vegan product range.
Many social media marketing influencers of beauty who have a great following are also queers
- Lauren Elyse: A makeup and drag artist with a following of 282k, Lauren has been giving many looks on the Instagram @laur_elyse
- Ryan Potter: With a following of 365 k and a blue tick, @ryanbpotter is worth a look at, Instagram will make you go just ‘wowwww’. From makeup looks, shop to the acne journey, it is a perfect place for the makeup freaks.
- J: Another famous social media marketing influencer in beauty is @thaibrows a certified MUA and a non- binary trans. The Instagram boosts of 10.8K followers with all sorts of makeup looks ranging from shinny to subtle.
- Nikita: @nikitadragun, CEO at Dragun Beauty is proud of the Trans beauty. The Instagram @Nikitadragun and @dragunbeauty has 6.7 m and 593k followers. Her skill and creativity are commendable (honestly beyond words), this makeup handle is a must watch for the makeup lovers.
- James Charles: A YouTube influencer in beauty has a subscriber following of 19.4 m, the makeup tutorial videos by James is no less than paradise for the ones learning and applying makeup.
The beauty industry is breaking stereotypes giving the queers an open space to experiment and become what they are; truly accepting their sexuality.
I Knock Fashion Desk (Conclusion)
A question posed to those who are against the LGBTQ rights and prohibit them from being a part of society- Why do you have a problem with someone’s sexual preferences? A community that has always existed since ancient times and will continue to exist for as long as the face of the Earth, why would someone want to stand against it just because it seems to be non confirming to the everchanging societal rules?
Fashion and beauty have both worked for hand in hand in uncovering this taboo. The queers have been a part of these two industries and are stepping ahead in the same. It is true to say that fashion and beauty is ageless, genderless, and surpasses the general conservative rules and regulations of society. They are a catalyst in bringing out the talents and creativity of the queers and will continue to do so without discrimination.