Androgynous Fashion Breaking Gender Boundaries!

Before any significant LGBT+ movements of the 1960s and 70s, communities used physical appearance to express sexuality and gender. Fashion and certain styles have been important throughout LGBT+ history and remains a form of expression and identification. Gay fashion is often described as androgynous, which is ultimately about breaking the gender boundaries which society imposes on us, and wearing whatever makes you feel best, which is pretty badass!

Androgynous looks are particularly useful for those who identify outside of the gender binaries, those who are agender, androgyne, gender-fluid, or bigender. But are also adopted by gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and even heterosexuals. Style is about personality and self-expression.

For some, androgynous looks involve binding their chest, cutting or growing their hair, shaving or not shaving, and for others, it means shopping in all clothing departments, not only the one assigned to the gender they were born into.

Dressing androgynously can be used to negotiate gender and/or sexuality, for some people it is about making their exterior match their interior, and for others it simply makes them feel confident and attractive.

Slowly, more images of people dressed androgynously are being represented in the media with men wearing nail varnish and having glitter beards, and women chopping their hair into a short edgy cut and wearing suits. Celebrity icons such as Brittenelle and Ruby Rose are presenting androgynous styles on social media, making gender-nonconformity more visible and accepted.

For me, fashion is about expressing myself, which includes my sexuality. Sometimes I dress femininely and other times I dress androgynously, both of which equally express who I am. Androgynous looks for me are about dressing in both masculine and feminine ways, it is about breaking boundaries to feel confident and authentic in my appearance.

Here are some of my favourite androgynous looks:

I shop in both womenswear and menswear for shirts, whether it is fitted or oversized and loose, a shirt never fails to make me feel confident in my masculine side.

Skater brands such as Vans often sell unisex clothes. Large and baggy t-shirts, accompanied with a shirt or low crotch jogging bottoms are perfect for an edgy androgynous look.

Not only are jumpers and hoodies comfortable, but they also allow me to confidently express my masculine side.

Accessories such as beanies, snapbacks, backpacks, or simply wearing a shirt tied around my waist makes me feel confident and cool whilst also expressing my sexuality.

I would like to reaffirm that you do not have to dress androgynously to be gay or lesbian. I can wear lipstick and heels, and still be pansexual. Don’t force a style on yourself to try to fit in, whether that is to conform to current trends or to ‘look gay’. Wear what makes you feel good! Don’t be afraid to experiment or try out different clothes and styles. Find what makes you feel most comfortable and confident in yourself.

Comment whether you liked this post, and I will show what androgynous styles I wear in the Summer once the weather gets warmer in rainy Cardiff. Comment what styles make you feel most confident about your gender and sexuality!

Thank you to my model, Georgia for helping me make this post possible by wearing every outfit I threw at her and being patient with my lack of photography skills.

Links:

You can look online for androgynous fashion websites such as Gender Free World.

Check out Ruby Rose’s music video, which breaks gender boundaries, Break Free.

Qwear Fashion is a blog which explores a wide range of LGBT+ fashion, and may be useful to check out.

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Breaking Biphobic Stigmas

Sexuality is complex and personal. Coming out is not only a confusing process for sexual minorities, but it can be difficult to understand for those who do not feel the same way. Sexual minority groups which are often met with confusion are those in the middle of the spectrum- the bisexuals, pansexual and hetero-flexibles. They not only feel excluded from heterosexuals but from the gay and lesbian community also, for ‘not being gay enough’.

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Bisexuals are often told that their sexuality does not exist. But just because you don’t understand something, does not mean it is not real. I do not understand gravity, but I know that it is real. It is the same for any sexuality, you may not understand, but you should respect and accept someone for who they are.

There are many stigmas surrounding bisexuality. As a pansexual, I am often called greedy or selfish. This comes from the misconception that bisexuals are promiscuous, that they jump from one bed to the other. My girlfriend and I are also often asked for threesomes, assuming that we are not in a monogamous relationship because of our sexuality. But bisexuality and polygamy are two different things, sexual appetite differs between individuals of all genders and sexualities.

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These negative stigmas also make dating particularly challenging for bisexuals. An ex-partner once told me that he would never have gotten into a relationship with me if he knew I was pansexual because he wouldn’t have trusted me. The gay and lesbian community also often distrust bisexuals. When I first came out as bisexual, and later pansexual, people insisted it was a phase of confusion. I constantly felt I had to prove my sexuality. Women were suspicious that I was ‘just experimenting’ because I had only dated men beforehand. Your dating history should not be analysed for validation of your sexuality. Whether you have only dated one gender, or tend to date one gender more than others, you can still be bisexual.

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Due to me now being in a committed relationship with a woman, I am assumed to now be a lesbian. Commitment to a partner does not indicate a change in sexuality or label identification. It is the attraction to multiple genders that makes you bisexual or pansexual, which is unlikely to change. And this certainly does not prove that ‘it was only a matter of time’ before I would come out as gay. Bisexuality is not always a phase of coming out as fully gay.

It is incredibly difficult for somebody to come out. Coming out is ultimately asking for acceptance. So, to tell somebody that they are confused, that they are just experimenting, that their sexuality does not exist can be very damaging to their mental health.

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Your sexuality is valid. You know yourself better than anybody else, do not let anybody tell you otherwise! Share whether you have had similar experiences to myself due to your sexuality in the comments below.

Links:

For support with any LGBT+ issues, you can find help from the LGBT foundation online or over the phone on 0345 3303030

Check out the video, I’m Bisexual, But I’m Not…

For more discourse on bisexuality visit the blog, Happy Bisexual.

Lesbian survival 101: surviving nights out

On a night out, everyone has their own set of rules to follow for survival: don’t drink tequila, don’t walk home with your heels in hand, and to always have a glass of water and paracetamol waiting on your bedside table for your return.

However, being gay requires a whole new set of rules. In the present day, you should be able to comfortably walk down the road hand in hand with your same-sex partner, only with the rare comment. Yet, in non-LGBT+ exclusive nightclubs and bars, it is a very different story. It is rare for my girlfriend and me to go on a night out and not receive some sort of harassment from drunken men and occasionally women. It has gotten to the point where we are reluctant to go to certain nightclubs with our heterosexual friends.

It is true to say that LGBT+ movements have made great progress in Western societies in the last decade. However, during a night on the town, the LGBT+ community are more vulnerable to sexual and gender discrimination.

Nightclubs and bars cannot refuse your entry due to your sexuality, and they have an obligation to be aware of your safety, however, is enough being done?

I had never received any type of homophobia or sexual discrimination before I went to university. Students and teachers have always been respectful towards my sexuality, however, there are an uncountable amount of instances of sexual discrimination which I have received on nights out. My girlfriend and I have been circled and demanded to kiss each other like some sort of spectacle, we’ve been approached and asked for threesomes numerous times, we’ve had men take pictures and film us, as well as received a range of horrific comments. Not only are we constantly sexualised as a lesbian couple, but we are not regarded as a serious couple. When my girlfriend is approached by men asking for her number, it is rare for them to recognise us as a couple or see me as a threat.

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This is not to say that same-sex couples should stop going on nights out, or should hide that they’re a couple. Besides, the LGBT+ community hasn’t gotten to where we are today through hiding. Maybe it is reasonable advice, however, to not give your partner a lap dance in the middle of the dance floor! If you do receive a few comments, try to stay composed and walk away, show that you’re not interested or phased by their ignorance. There is always security, if not managers present with your safety in mind, therefore tell them if you receive any level of harassment or homophobic comments. It is not you who’s being unreasonable, therefore it is not you who should be removed.

Everyone has the right to let their hair down, have a few bevies, and make good memories! But most importantly, everyone has the right to feel safe when on a night out, no matter your gender or sexual orientation.

Links:

You can find information about your rights as a sexual minority on the LGBT foundation website.

For those affected by issues raised in this post, there are online and over the phone support networks, including the confidential Switchboar LGBT+ helpline, available 10am-10pm every day on 03003 300630.

How to come out

So, you feel ready to come out? That’s great! Coming out is considered one of the most significant events in an LGBT+ identifying person’s life. But, don’t be too scared by this and hide in the closet forever. My coming out story was significant, but not significantly bad, significant in that it shaped me into the individual I am today. It helped me grow, made me stronger, it allowed me to show people my true authentic self, to be the happiest version of myself.

It’s a good idea to start with your best friend, somebody who’s always had your back. Somebody who you trust, and can help you during this process. So, how do you do this? Through song and dance? Through sending them a rainbow decorated cake? Or why not send them this…

Hey, my name’s Naomi, I’m an LGBT+ blogger and have something important to share with you! The person who sent you this wanted me to inform you that they’re gay, or bisexual, or maybe just questioning their sexuality. They want to confide in you and have an honest conversation with you, but this is terrifying for them. Please, don’t freak out! Text them, or call them right now. Or, if they’re sitting next to you, put your arm around them and say,

‘let’s talk.’

Here are some guidelines:

  1. You’re allowed to ask questions, they’ll feel grateful that you’re interested and want to talk about this. But, be considerate in what you ask. This is a lot more confusing for them than it is for you, trust me!
  2. Do some research; find some LGBT+ bloggers, vloggers, or even watch a film (I recommend ‘Blue is the warmest colour’!). You may find the answers to questions too sensitive to ask them, and they’ll appreciate that you took the time and effort to understand this.
  3. Don’t tell anybody! They trusted you with sharing this part of themselves, they felt ready to come out to you. But they may not be ready to come out to anybody else yet, it can be much more difficult than it seems.
  4. Don’t make this about you. This may be difficult, you may be apprehensive, but this isn’t about you. If you’re a friend of the same sex, this does not necessarily mean that they look at you sexually, or that they’ve got a secret crush on you. And if they are confused about their feelings for you, be considerate and honest with them, but reassure them that you’ll still always be there for them.
  5. Lastly, the number one rule is, don’t let this change anything! They’ve been this way the whole time. Your perception may have changed about them, but they’re still the same person. They will still be at your door with Ben and Jerry’s when they hear you’re sad. They will still break out in dance with you when they hear your favourite song. They’re still the same person who values your friendship more than anything. Don’t change that.

There is no manual to coming out, everyone’s experience is different. Do it when you’re ready and make sure you’re in a safe environment. Each time gets easier. Do it with your head held high, and be proud of who you are.

Links:

Alternatively, you could send them, COMING OUT – THE OFFICIAL SONG.

This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Life may be useful for those whose parents are finding it difficult to understand or accept your sexual identification.

For further LGBT+ support, there are online and over the phone support networks, such as Switchboard LGBT+ helpline.