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The Queer Beauty Revolution is Here, and These Are Its Leaders
The beauty business has boomed in the age of social media, influencer-driven marketing, and YouTube -- carving out a path for queer and trans creators and entrepreneurs to take their rightful place at the top of the industry. After all, an entire generation of queer and trans youth is coming of age in a world where they can admire and feverishly follow celebrity makeup artists, watch tutorials by YouTube creators, buy products by business owners, and attend world-spanning conventions founded by entrepreneurs who look, live, and love like them. In this beauty renaissance, LGBTQ+ people are the Michelangelos, the Donatellos, and the da Vincis.
This story is a part of Out100's larger fashion and beauty package. Read the list's designers of the year and the faces at the forefront of change in the mdoeling industry.
This piece was originally published in this year's Out100 issue, out on newstands 12/10. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, or Nook beginning 11/21.
Sir John is shaping how women want to be seen, one immaculately painted face at a time. L'Oreal Paris's Consulting Celebrity Makeup Artist has gotten Beyonce ready for the Super Bowl, Coachella, and Lemonade -- a trifecta of artistry that has impacted our world in immeasurable ways. "When you do something like that, you see how that moves the needle of culture. And you happen to have a small part of that, and you know how that affects the community. When I go to a nightclub or a bar, the kids go up for me because of what I've contributed to them being proud of their skin." Sir John, who partnered this year with Disney to release a collection inspired by The Lion King, believes that "lipstick changes the world," because when a woman feels confident, it "changes the vibration."
After shaping the pop culture landscape as chief creative officer of Paper Magazine, Drew Elliott is starting a new adventure as the global creative director at MAC Cosmetics. Growing up in Indiana, MAC was one of the first places Elliott "saw queer culture come to life," and he's excited to continue that legacy, which consists of nonprofit HIV/AIDS work through its Viva Glam campaign. He's committed to "giving all people the tools and colors to take on the world with confidence." Elliott's role is part of a growing shift that centers queer creators and entrepeneurs, ensuring they are "recognized for their talents and points of view." While Drew is just getting started in his new digs, we feel we can only be destined for great things. After all, how many times has he already broken the internet?
Look no further than the cover of Out to see the impact of Drag Race favorite Miss Fame. In 2018, she launched Miss Fame Beauty, complete with a social media campaign and jaw-dropping video tutorials. She then co-starred alongside major names in fellow makeup mogul Charlotte Tilbury's advertising campaign. She also attended the couture shows in Paris this summer and Fashion Month across Europe this fall, dazzling in the front row alongside supermodels and celebrities -- but don't call her work "cute." "It's a bit undermining of the time and dedication I've spent trying to create my ultimate self, beauty, and expression," she says. "What I'm doing is not cute. It's intricate, it's detailed, it's organized, and it's sophisticated. It's a form of artistic expression, through my feminine self."
"Being [a] butch Muslim gay woman is unheard of in the venture and investment world," says Moj Mahdara, the CEO and founder of Beautycon, the world's premier beauty festival. "It's made my journey more difficult, but nothing deters me from my goals." That's certainly true, considering that, as of 2019, Beautycon has now launched in Los Angeles, New York City, and Tokyo. Mahdara hopes young queer folks can learn from her success, leading "with an entrepreneurial spirit, forging new ground, and being unafraid to try new things in new ways." Beautycon's success is proof that redefining "cultural norms of beauty, diversity, and inclusivity" isn't just powerful, it can be profitable -- and the more queer women of color we have in business positions, the better.
When Cardi B's explosive career culminated in a Grammy Award win for Best Rap Album in February, her hairstylist Tokyo Stylez was there to share in the success. "There wasn't a dry eye backstage...and her hair was on point, thanks to me!" she says. As the rapper's success has grown, so has Tokyo's -- over 1.2 million people follow her every post on Instagram, where she's slowly but surely managed to unveil a new side of herself beyond awards shows and checks. "Transitioning while maintaining my career has been the most challenging part of the year," she admits. "I'm finding out a lot about myself through this process." And that knowledge is something she's planning to pay forward. "I would like to see more help for trans youth, and I'm going to do my best to further that agenda."