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.

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.

No, I don’t have sex with pans – part three.

I should probably clarify that I identify as pansexual. No, this does not mean I’m sexually attracted to pans. For those who don’t know, this means that I am attracted to people irrespective of their gender identity.

Whilst avoiding labelling myself for a long time, I found pansexual to be the best fit. You don’t have to feel pressured to label yourself. I personally never want to completely close the door on any sex, to limit myself of any possibility. However, that is not to say that I’m uncertain of my sexuality, and that certainly doesn’t mean I ‘just haven’t found the right man yet’. I am certain that people are changeable, that love is unpredictable, and I am certain that I currently love a girl. I still have to come out to people all of the time, however, each time I do, I do it with my head a little higher.

Despite the challenges, I wouldn’t change one detail about my coming out experience. I couldn’t wish for better parents, who accepted my current girlfriend with open arms. As we grow, we see our experiences differently. Bad times can become blessings in disguise and can prepare us for future obstacles. Everyone deserves to fall in love and everyone deserves to love themselves. Do not be afraid and do not deprive others from knowing your true self. Most importantly, do not deny yourself of living the life you desire. Do not hide and stand proud. Despite this, it is important to come out at the right time, in a safe environment, when you feel ready.

For those seeking support regarding the issues discussed in this blog post,  I am always a message away and will do my best to answer questions and give advice to the best of my ability. Alternatively, there are online and over the phone support networks, including the confidential Switchboard LGBT+ helpline, available 10am-10pm every day on 03003 300630.

What I have discussed is evidently personal to me. Not all members of the LGBT+ community have had a similar experience to me. Therefore do not base expectations for yourself on what you have just read. I consider myself lucky for the reactions I received, but your environment and well being may vary from mine. Remember, your safety comes first, there is no rush. Those who identify differently to myself would have had to ask themselves different questions, and would have had to tackle different obstacles. Leave a comment on your own experience so that I can hear how similar or different your coming out story is to mine. Your experience may be able to help another reader with a problem I did not have to face, or give them the confidence needed to come out. Let’s get intimate!

No, I don’t have sex with pans – part two.

Looking back, coming out to my closest friends seems quite innocent. I excitedly typed the words ‘I think I like girls’ into my phone to show my best friend because I couldn’t say the words out loud. I then came out gradually to more and more friends, mostly drunk at parties and occasionally through being found hiding in a closet kissing a girl. The irony!

I’ve never seen my sexuality as something I need to announce to everyone. So, after I had told immediate friends, I let people find out by themselves. Unlike my brother, I haven’t been bullied for my sexuality. Instead, most people have shown intrigue, as well as multiple boys commenting….

“ That’s so hot! ”

When I was 18 I had my first girlfriend. It was like most first loves, however, it had a different element to what I had experienced with boys. There was another level of intimacy, another understanding for one another’s bodies and emotions. Telling my family and friends about my new relationship also required more than I had experienced with previous relationships.

I wasn’t scared to tell my Mum, for we had discussed the possibility of my brother being gay beforehand, and she seemed very accepting of him. I was surprised and devastated to receive a very different reaction. My Mum told me that I was not to put it online where people could see, that she wished I could be ‘normal’, and that I would fall in love with a man.

I was devastated. I couldn’t understand why my brother was so easily accepted; yet I had to justify my feelings. I was made to feel ashamed. Later, she asked why I was so upset and I told her how excited I was to have met somebody special, yet she couldn’t share that happiness with me. Upset, she told me she loved me unconditionally and apologised. After that point she was just what you’d wish for from your Mum, and treated our relationship as I would wish for her to do whether my partner is male or female. However, after her reaction, I was terrified to tell my Dad who is of an older generation and doesn’t quite understand the LGBT+ community, people with tattoos, piercings, coloured hair.

Sorry Dad, I fit all categories.

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I wrote my Dad a letter, and his reaction was also a surprise to me. He was much more calm and rational. He was honest about his feeling and asked questions, reassuring me ultimately that he loves me unconditionally.

Yet, during my 11-month relationship, he always treated my girlfriend as a friend of mine. Some people have told me that they would have protested, yet he was always generous to us. I believe that you should be patient with people around you when coming out, as they too have their own process. They must come to terms with your sexuality, and take time to adapt to this new perception of you. People, through my experience, tend to be a lot more accepting than I initially thought they would be. Be patient, honest, and strong.

No, I don’t have sex with pans – part one.

“So, when did you know?
How did your parents react?
Are you sure it’s not a phase?”

On introduction, members of the LGBT+ community get asked the inevitable questions about their coming out stories. As well as some ridiculous and intrusive questions, such as my personal favourite, “So, how do two girls do “it”?”

We all have our unique stories, some incredibly difficult, some easier than others. However, good or bad, funny or emotional, they all share similarities. Our coming out stories shape us into the individuals we are today. They help us grow, make us stronger, they mould us into our true authentic selves, to be the happiest versions of ourselves.

When the word ‘gay’ first came to my knowledge, it was presented as a bad word, as disgusting and wrong. My brother is gay. He would go first for the tutu and fairy wings in our fancy-dress box when we were younger, despite my dad’s disapproval. I always looked up to him for having the courage to be himself. When I moved up to high school, the boys would tease me, telling me that my brother is gay, that he “wasn’t normal”.

I defended him, not knowing if he was or not, however he always denied it throughout the time he was bullied. The bullying got to the point where he had to move school. What was meant to be a fresh start actually turned into the same situation, and he had to move back. It seemed to me that wherever you go, being gay was something to be ashamed of.

My story is very different to my brothers, surprisingly.

Like many people I know, my coming out story involved being obsessed with two fictional characters. I remember finding my brother’s Skins box-set when I was 15, with the dramatic and racy story lines- I was hooked. But it was two particular characters from the second generation who changed my entire view of myself and my possible future.

The series follows the characters of Naomi and Emily, two individuals exploring their sexuality and ultimately falling in love. I watched these two girls, and I wanted to be them. I wanted what they had. From then on I was obsessed! I could not tell you how many times I have watched the episode where Naomi and Emily finally ‘get it on’, how many hours I spent watching fan made YouTube videos, or reading cast interviews. I could no longer deny it, or hide it from myself.

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