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Pride Month is here! LGBTQ+ Pride Month is globally celebrated every year in June, to honour the 1969, Stonewall Riots. In Canada, the first gay rights protests occurred in 1971, with demonstrations in Ottawa and Vancouver. These moments in history have inspired the month long celebration where we continue to promote diversity, uplift LGBTQ+ voices, and advocate for their rights. 

The LGBTQ+ community has had a significant impact on both the beauty and fashion industry. Fashion designers such as Gianni Versace and Alexander McQueen, introduced the world to some of the most iconic fashion trends. Marsha P. Johnson, who is known for her extensive activism during the gay liberation movement, remains an inspiration to many drag queens when it comes to style and makeup. 

The portrayal of gay pride hasn’t always been prevalent in the fashion industry, so we spoke to some LGBTQ+ Canadian fashionistas about representation and their hopes for the future of fashion.

Meet Jamie Pandit,  a 32 year old transgender woman from Toronto, who creates fashion and beauty content.         

Jamie Pandit, Content Creator. Photographed by Aurora Shields.

Tell us about the first time you felt represented in fashion as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

Expressing myself through fashion became a huge part of my life ever since I started transitioning at 15. While living in stealth for many years, fashion was my armour from the daily struggles I was experiencing.

After coming out publicly last year as a transgender woman, I felt truly represented in fashion by a clothing brand @thelocalwomanco – a slow fashion line handmade in Toronto, designed and made by women. I never thought the day would come where I get to model beautiful dresses while standing proud, being who I am. I didn’t feel like I had to change my personality or hide my identity, I was celebrated for being my authentic self. The dresses represented my different energies – feminine, sensual, powerful, bold, and bright. I felt comfortable and at peace with my body and who I am in that moment.

What would you like to see more in the fashion industry for members of the LGBTQ+ community?

Growing up, I didn’t see someone like me represented anywhere, and certainly not in fashion. Just being who I am, being “feminine” and wearing women’s clothes felt like a political statement. 

In the present, I notice people like me, trans women of colour, are still not represented in the fashion industry. Often when there is any representation, it tends to be singular – Caucasian, tall, thin trans women that are overly glamorized with big hair, exaggerated makeup, and bold outfits. What about the curvy and natural trans women of colour and Black trans women? Just like other social identity groups, trans people are diverse in the way we appear and how we express ourselves.  

It is important for trans folks to see other trans individuals in the fashion industry that they can personally connect to after seeing different kinds of representation. Fashion brands need to do a better job in hiring and working with various trans individuals, instead of a “token” trans person to check off a box in their list. They need to show trans people that are both “passing” and “non-passing.” When fashion brands represent non-passing trans individuals only, their goal is to often make it easy for their audience to identify a trans person in their campaign and view their brand as “diverse.” This can seem very performative as it only boosts their image of inclusivity when in reality, they are not. For true progress, fashion brands need to rethink their strategies, learn from trans people, and strive to do better. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

A piece of advice I would say to my younger self – it’s so simple but I would say to keep going. To not stop. To not give up. You are stronger than you think you are. It does get better and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Every experience has shaped me to be the person I am today, and I realize now everything happened for a reason – to make me a better person that is open, empathetic, compassionate, kind, and loving.  

Meet Nathan Archambault, a 20 year old professional makeup artist based in Montreal, QC. 

Nathan Archambault, Professional Makeup Artist.

Tell us about the first time you felt represented in fashion as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

I’ve always felt like fashion was my thing, I’m someone who’s extremely expressive and I want people to understand me without using words. What I found hard was that I automatically associated my excitement with fashion with something feminine, and thought only women could embody that so I thought I had to become a woman.  Searching for the real you is a lifetime of work, but I have to  say that when I started seeing men on the runway, moving their hips like there was no tomorrow, I felt empowered! I want to be as fearless as them and I don’t care if no one understands, because I’m not the only one! Being part of something bigger or feeling represented is the best way to gain confidence in yourself without feeling the need to explain yourself!

What would you like to see more in the fashion industry for members of the LGBTQ+ community?

I think we’ve done a good job at showing that diversity exists, but we are now at the point where we need to merge all the different people together! I need to see gay men and straight men be allies. I need to see all the different ethnicities and body sizes at the same events. I don’t agree with the  need to separate people into their own categories so they won’t take away anyone’s light! I’m not sure if I’m being clear, but I just feel like a lot of agencies or companies like to put themselves in a box, and think they show what people want to see because it reflects their “values” when in reality, everyone just wants to be included in the same things! Overall we need people to think outside the box, and I want everyone to pull each other up because that’s the only way we can grow, by being allies!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

If I could speak to my younger self, I would let me know that feelings are normal, but learn to use them to your advantage! I wish I knew that even when you realize you messed up, you’re still using your faith to build the person that you are. Every hard moment will become your best opportunity and always live like it’s your last day. You want to bring confidence and happiness everywhere you go, so project yourself forward without fear! 

Meet Joanie Petricupa, at 36 years old, she is the Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Canada, ELLE Québec and VÉRO magazines.         

Joanie Petricupa, Editor-in-Chief, ELLE Canada, ELLE Québec and VÉRO magazines. 

Tell us about the first time you felt represented in fashion as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

I actually “came out” late: at around 30 years old. Before that day, the day I fell head over heels in love for the first time with a woman, I just thought I found women more beautiful, intriguing, charming and overall attractive than men. I somehow thought all women felt the same (spoiler alert: they do not. I was a closeted pansexual – and although I don’t believe in labels for myself -/lesbian.) The first time that I felt truly represented in fashion as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is probably when I started listening to (and watching on stage) Freddie Mercury at around 6 or 7 years old (I know, I know… I had cool music taste as a child! Ha!) I immediately fell in love with him, his voice, his lyrics, his look, his fashion, his freedom, his personality. I loved everything about him! And I still do today. The way he acted strong and proud despite everything that went on in his personal life fascinated me. I will forever be a Freddie fan!

What would you like to see more in the fashion industry for members of the LGBTQ+ community?

I would love to see more inclusivity, more visibility and much less societal gender norms when it comes from fashion. I would love for everyone to embrace personal style no matter what, and for gay and queer fashion icons to keep pushing and pushing the boundaries. I feel like the whole world is ready for gay and queer fashion goodness (and if not, f*ck ’em!) 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I wish I could tell my younger self, above all, that I will have to learn to live with an anxiety disorder and that, although this will seem like the end of the world when it hits me in my early thirties, I will come to see it as a superpower. Because my anxiety obviously makes me unique, but also protects me from overwhelming situations or people. I have developed an incredible instinct because of my anxiety, and for that I will always be grateful to have been born just the way I am.

 

 

 

 

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