This evening we lost one of the great fashion designers to ever exist. Oscar de la Renta; your whimsical silhouettes attained the unique mix of first lady sophistication with sultry, old hollywood glamour. You never made a woman choose between classic or modern (in fact you understood/embraced that most of us are a bit of both).
It’s been an awesome week for equality in America. It’s been a week of the charismatic Kiki, a fierce celebration of acceptance. This past week played host to two highly empowering days: “National Coming Out Day” and “Spirit Day.” Inspired by the badass positive energy this week carried, I felt an undeniable urge to pay my respects by sharing with you a few intimate thoughts/experiences/feelings in regards to being OUT & PROUD. Trust me lovelies I’m not claiming to be any sort of life-expert, but I know in the core of my heart that this much is true:
There is nothing on this planet sexier then owning who you truly are + being comfortable in your own skin. I learned this the hard way. I was terrified to come out. I thought because I lusted after vintage Chanel, attained a dear affection for lacquering my lips with petal pink lipstick and often fell asleep dreaming about the giant hair-bows and mega-platforms that grace the pages of Japanese Fashion Magazines--there was no way I could be gay. I was always fashion-crazed; I was the first girl in the sixth grade to rock black-glitter eyeliner, a mascara adorned adolescent with a dresser that held court to a mean collection of crop-tops (old habits die hard). I was so seemingly over-the-top girly....so why in the hell was I finding myself left breathless with an inexplicable fluttering in my chest after meeting the honey-colored gaze of the blond waitress who served us over a lackluster family dinner in a downtown NYC restaurant? Why was I swooning like an eighteenth century fair-maiden whilst watching a young and troubled Angelina Jolie purse her pillowy, bee-stung lips in "Gia" (which I was also in the habit of watching until the early morning sun invaded the sky on school night's after my parents went to bed)?
I was brainwashed by the ever-pressing stereotypes the media force-feeds us. From the time we are born, we are bombarded with a seemingly endless stream of images that dictate to us exactly how gay people are “supposed” to look. I found myself sorely confused and unable identify with any of them. Working from a young age in an industry where girls are so often objectified by men (usually old men, but that's another blog), by the time I hit early adolescence--anxiety hit me like a fist: I was certain that being open about my sexuality would prevent me from ever having a successful career in the fashion/entertainment industry. Fashion & Entertainment is what I love, it’s where I thrive, it’s my passion, it’s at the very core (like sexuality) of who I am. I felt I had to make a choice. I committed to a life of hiding, which goes against my very nature. I’m a naturally open person, I chair the department of TMI and often am brutally honest to a fault. There is no feeling quite like stabbing sensation of suppressing your truth.
I spent a large portion of my life feeling this perpetual, underlying tug of anxiety/alienation. Underneath my well-rehearsed, confident exterior I felt marginalized, sad, out-of-whack, strange and most of all—deeply uncomfortable. I tried to drown out my unrelenting attraction to other girls with a plethora of unhealthy habits; booze, blackouts, and hollow bouts of depression. I had panic attacks. I didn’t like myself, and I was knee-deep in the thick of my own secrets. When I'm keeping secrets, it’s my crooked way to avoid facing an issue I’m afraid to confront. However this tired “coping mechanism” (or lack thereof) tends to backfire in a brutal way. Not “dealing” with our issues, forces us to deal with them all the time—for they have a way of bleeding into every part of our lives, damaging our relationships and manifesting themselves in the twisted form of depression, substance abuse, toxic relationships, self-harm etc.
I don’t want that for you. You deserve to be happy, free, safe and living your life authentically! There is absolutely no joy in hiding. You (like everyone residing on the precious planet) deserves to fantasize about your wedding day, all the fabulous people you will meet/date/fall-in-love with, and the children you will someday have--without the guilt/shame/fear that consumes so many LGBTQ+ youth and adults.
Sadly, we still live in a world where people are made to feel deeply ashamed and silenced for their sexuality. We live in a world where simply being you, can have very dangerous consequences. Living in fear, getting kicked out of the house, being rejected from your family/society at large, and being a helpless victim of excessive bullying has driven a plethora of our brightest young minds into the trenches of suicide. Young people are the heartbeat of our culture. Our world becomes increasingly dim with each suicide, with each kid who is deeply afraid to go to school, with each teenager who runs away from home and chooses to live in the street because they’re subjected to abuse. Let's work together to create a world where everyone feels SAFE and VALUED and EMBRACED for being themselves, where it's celebrated to be OUT & PROUD. This is an issue that transcends politic feuds, upbringing and religion. Where you come from and how you identify is irrelevant. Let's make it known to every single LGBTQ+ person in the universe that we support you, AND WE ARE YOU. Check out this powerful video to learn about one of the most moving, creative projects I've ever come across (projects like these are lifelines for people like me):
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: