Model: Jamane Ebony | Photo: M. Sharkey
O: How do you think the concept of identity has evolved in just the past few years and how do you think it will it continue to evolve?
WM: We had the radical moments of coming out as "gay," "lesbian," and "transgender" but now we are also championing the in-between. We don't want to be gendered at all. We aren't comfortable with the term "lesbian" or "gay" because that would mean identifying as a wo/man who only dates other people who identify as wo/men and—at least in major urban areas where expression is more freely tolerated—I'm seeing that that is becoming less and less common. A lot of people are taking hormones to transition to a place of androgyny in order to aesthetically appear the way they feel. I think this is beautiful.
Queerness is often a political stance which claims biological sex as arbitrary and gender as performative. And arbitrary in the sense that it shows the ridiculousness of discriminatory stereotypes that are so oppressive to everyone outside of a patriarchal cisgender white hetero-male universe, and especially to people of color.
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One can perform however they feel and it might change every single day. Someone can be technically a transgender "man," but decide tomorrow that they identify as a femme faggot, for example. There are no boundaries. This is why emphasizing fashion on a queer platform is so crucial. Aesthetics are such an important way to feel comfortable in your own skin and signal to those around you how you'd like to be perceived at that time.
I feel and hope that identity will continue on this way. The ability to explore and express oneself freely with equal opportunity is utopian in nature, but I think this mentality will continue to grow into an unstoppable force. I know for myself, being labeled in any capacity makes me cringe. Asking someone "what are you?" and looking to hear familiar terms such as masculine-of-center, butch, femme, tomboi, bottom, top, etc., has become widely looked down upon in queer, trans, and gender non-conforming conversation. As knowledge and visibility grows, so will progress.