Flashback to when Jaden Smith wore a Louis Vuitton skirt and when Harry Styles broke the internet after posting a picture of him in a Gucci dress on Instagram, unapologetically rejecting traditional gender norms in fashion. Ever since then, I’ve read several articles about the fashion industry’s “gender-fluid movement”. Having read enough of these pieces, it would seem we are living in an unprecedented period of gender revolution, a time when traditional expectations of what constitutes men’s and women’s dress are being blended, blurred, even reimagined altogether. Society has broadened its trends and moved(if not completely) towards a more fluid conception of gender and sexuality, respect for other cultures, and queer lifestyles. People are talking about gender and sexuality and how we make the boundaries of it more fluid for the modern world we live in. The context of experimental fashion choices has come to the surface, where there are no negative connotations to being a girl or being gay, there isn’t much pressure to constantly demonstrate your manliness and heterosexuality by rigidly sticking to a conventionally masculine appearance. Gender and the blurring of traditional gender boundaries is, now more than ever, a perennial hot topic in the modern fashion industry.
What we now call gender-fluid fashion has existed as long as there have been gender norms to change and even if not necessarily new, something about today’s fixation with fluidity feels different, it is more substantial and politically engaged. The gender-fluidity we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the fashion ramp stages is accompanied by a growing awareness of and sensitivity to the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community.There is so much at stake for the people of the community through mainstream fashion’s involvement in the larger cultural ‘gender-fluid movement’. For them gender-fluidity is not merely a style, but an identity. When queer-identifying youth see queer representation on the runway and in media, they become symbols of hope for them and nonetheless, today’s gender-fluid movement has helped expand countless people’s perception of how people can dress besides their sexual orientation. It has even exposed the public to a fuller picture of the whole constellation of genders with which one might identify. To summarise it, fashion is genderless. Get over it. Wear that dress, swirl in that skirt, rock that suit, strut in those heels because the best look is wearing what makes you feel like you.
While fashion has given the community an avenue to embrace their identity and express themselves, over the years social media has lent its space where a diverse range of people can find a platform for their voice. Despite experiences of bullying and harassment online, LGBTQIA+ youth indicated the internet is a space that offers safer opportunities to express who they are, find peer support and gain access to resources which are not necessarily available in person. The visibility of LGBTQIA+ youth as influencers is changing the game on the internet and not just that but are changing the community by encouraging countless people to come to love and accept themselves.This is evident through the Indian queer community, which ranges from artists, authors, poets, illustrators, and designers, who all have the common goal of educating their audience about pertinent issues around homophobia, transphobia, and inclusion. From raising awareness about socio-political issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ space through art, to creating campaigns for queer advocacy. So, in honour of the LGBTQIA+ community, who are proof that being true to yourself can have a real impact, we’re throwing in our two cents by talking to a trans influencer, Krishna K, a singer-songwriter who uses they’re platform to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and helps others who are struggling with their identity and sexuality while making amazing music.
Krishna established they’re presence in the music community on social media as a transman and it sure wasn’t done overnight. “Music has always been a gendered industry and no matter what it is people are always going to label your voice as their female or male voice”, they say. People blatantly assume pronouns when they hear a person talk and it is disheartening because the identity that you’ve assumed for them is not the identity they are comfortable with. Krishna felt the need to let people know whose music they’re listening to, where the music is coming from, help them understand their experiences as a transman and most importantly, let people know who they were. Who they are; first a human, and then a person who is passionate about music and then comes the fact that they are not a girl. Krishna has worked in the film industry as well, and says they did get lucky to be working with an amazing team who never even once misgendered him. Indian film industry which is driven by binary roles, lacks queer representation and if by chance there is any sort of queer representation it was always demeaning or inappropriate. However, to them Krishna was just another talented singer no matter what gender and hence Krishna says they felt remarkably comfortable, affirmed and respected. When the song was released, people were shocked to know that the female singer wasn’t a girl, it shook their beliefs and it was out of the ordinary to them but here’s the fun fact, nothing was out of the ordinary, it was just Krishna making music, making art and being themself. We all want to see a change in the world and we’re definitely working towards it. We believe that education is the only way to progress but by education we mean, verbalising people’s experiences, respecting them, learning about people and learning from people. It is about being considerate about the fact that we all are unique with unique experiences and unfortunately, a major chunk of people do not align with such a perspective. They do not support something because they know nothing about it and have been influenced by someone who has a negative perspective. They simply do not want to be ‘educated’ which as Krishna says, is inconvenient for the existence of people. Why must someone repeat themselves and their basic identity expression for years together to experience the basic rights of dignity and respect that some people simply deny to provide them with?
‘Foundation must be laid for people to be open to learn from others. Just because I am of an experience doesn’t invalidate your experiences and this itself paves a path for discussion on issues that people aren’t willing to change their opinion on’, says Krishna. For Krishna, their self growth journey was a massive one. Starting from YouTube to building a community on Instagram, they have found so many supportive people not only through the internet but also in real life as life progressed. Krishna states that they had no confidence in themself just when they began this journey 5-6 years ago and it was because of the support system they have found on social media, they have started to believe that maybe they do have what it takes and have actively started to work. Yet, social media can be a dark place with our mental health at stake. For Krishna, their mental health struggles started way before social media happened. Putting yourself out there, talking about issues that people are just starting to learn about or have already created opinions about, even before giving those opinions a second thought is quite a challenge. Receiving uncanny messages, threats and invalidation has always been a perpetual dread not only to Krishna but to many other members of the community. Krishna realises the economic and caste privilege that they have and says that they always watch what they’re talking about because they don’t want to obstruct anyone else’s space. Krishna talks about how they want to be there for people and amplify the voices of those who want to share their story to the world and believes that they are on the road of doing so by putting themselves out there in the world sharing the fact that they care deeply about this.
Whilst the internet made amazing contributions to Krishna’s mental health as they found family here, they say they’re still trying to find that sweet spot of balancing their mental health and being vocal. Krishna loves giving their all to the things that they care and are passionate about. They say it is their passion towards the queer community that brings in a surge of motivation to give their best on their platform. ‘I have people in my life who are my anchors, who make me a better person and help me believe that. People all around me from all different angles keep me afloat and it is my passion towards these people that I keep moving forward’, says Krishna. They add on by saying that they’re working on being their own cheerleader in life and we stan!
Krishna ends by leaving a message for all those who are on a path of self-discovery and I am forwarding the very same:
- There is absolutely no pressure to figure out what pronouns you want to go by or in figuring out your identity.
- You do not have to choose a label. You just have to be your authentic self. Nothing matters as long as you are respectful towards humans. Just be you and be loving (unless you’re aromantic, then be loving but platonically).
- Remember that it is natural to experiment with your sexual orientation. That does not invalidate you. This is why we have a questioning flag in the community.
- Coming out is what you do only when you’re comfortable, it is a ‘you’ thing.
- This is your life. All that matters is your comfort. Always prioritise yourself. While there are other people who will prioritise you but the person who has to mandatorily do it is YOU.