Pride Guest Blog: Looking Queer

Pride Guest Blog: Looking Queer

Looking Queer

by Ellen Jones - Award winning campaigner and content creator

A few months ago I was invited to take part in BBC Three’s ‘Things Not To Say To Gay People’ video. The comments section of that video, rather unexpectedly, was not filled with simply praise or disgust, but with people gobsmacked that three out of four of the queer women – myself included – were wearing dungarees.

I, personally, found this hilarious.

I know for a fact my own personal thought process upon being cast was ‘what can I wear which looks really, really gay, without being too over the top, which also looks good on camera?’. Certain items of clothing like plaid shirts, dungarees and Doc Martens are all things frequently associated with lesbians. Naturally, I wore them all.

Planning my Pride outfit each summer is also no easy task. For many LGBTQ+ people, Pride is the biggest celebration of the year. It is a protest, a celebration, a time to come out (pun intended) and stand tall, proud and defiant against all of the forces which try so desperately to quash us. In the LGBTQ+ community – for better or for worse - appearances matter.

I for one I do not have a particularly consistent aesthetic (what teenager does?!) and subsequently finding labels or snappy phrases with which to describe myself is incredibly challenging. Nothing quite fits. At best, the label I would choose if pressed is tomboy-ish femme.

I want to make it clear that when I am talking about ‘looking queer’ or ‘feeling queer’, I am not for a moment suggesting that there is one particular aesthetic upon which all queerness is based. The diversity of the queer experience cannot be overstated and,

When I use these words, I am trying to communicate, albeit rather clumsily, a sense of affirmation and satisfying recognition of my identity which brings an almighty sense of peace. It is that sense of being yourself, wholly and unapologetically, and allowing others to see that, too.

Neither gendered expectations nor fashion’s demands have never made much sense to me. I simply enjoy wearing whatever clothing I like, irrespective of expectation and regardless of which section of a store it comes from.

I have come to accept that, some days, binding my chest and buttoning up my boy’s shirt is what makes me feel most empowered, most affirmed. Other times, it is dressing up in the world’s most princess-esque dress, stupendously high heels and a full face of makeup and realising my femme queen dreams. More often than not, however, I find myself operating in the middle ground or, more usually, clashing combinations in ways which others might find bizarre. If anything, being queer and allowing myself to express that has meant wearing what feels best, regardless of how it suits me. I will wear boxers under my fanciest, most feminine dresses and silky lingerie under baggy boy’s clothes and slightly revel in the knowledge I am, albeit secretly, subverting expectations.

I think my queerness and expressions of that is a little bit about the subversion of the norm. Coming out so young, I was constantly being told what I was and what I was not supposed to be. Choosing how I present on a given day often feels like a reclamation, of sorts. I am here, I am queer and if you have a problem with me expressing that, that is your problem and not mine.

by Ellen Jones

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