Does fashion mean freedom for the LGBTQ+ community?

Are some styles exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community? Should we consider this when we are putting our next choice of outfit together? One word in particular comes to mind when I think about LGBT styles and that’s Camp. 

Camp was the Met Gala theme for 2019. But what does it mean? Is it a feeling, a movement or the way you dress? Camp is mostly associated with a particular style of someone in the LGBTQ+ community and also mannerisms such as behaving theatrically.

I have visions of large collars, fluffy bows and sleeves and vibrant colours. Does this mean everybody within the community dresses camp? Does this mean a heterosexual person should be dressing or can’t dress like this?  Should every homosexual person be dressing like this? 

What fashion means to me

I’m a 23-year-old student studying fashion in Manchester. Being surrounded by so many beautifully free and different people is one of the many things that drew me to this city. Here, everyone is free to do what they want.

I knew I wanted to study the art of fashion when I started using clothing and my personal style to portray an expression. Fashion tells the world my mood and my feelings, it tells people a message. I think this is how a lot of people choose to escape from the mundanity of everyday life, through their wild choice of clothing. Every item is an expression of self.  One of my favorite designers Vivienne West wood never fails to express her brand’s message / thoughts and fucking anger towards climate change through her catwalk shows using the platform for her message to be heard. This is what fashion is. It’s art. It’s making a mark on today’s society and culture no matter how big or small or meaningless it may feel. You’re still making a mark.

Rainbow coloured hypocrisy

In 2018 Primark sold their infamous rainbow puffer jacket. And, as with many other brands – such as Costa Coffee selling rainbow coloured cups as Pride weeks hit different cities – there was a backlash from the LGBTQ community.

These companies were using the rainbow flag for marketing and branding purposes. Many brands did not disclose whether a percentage of the profit from these sales were going to relevant charities. The rainbow flag is not a marketing tool for your company.  But if the aim is to spread awareness for the community then please donate profits to a chosen charity. 

Harry Styles. The singer who has had a radical change from joining pop group One Direction to recently releasing his newest solo album. Known for his very camp style he is constantly questioned over his sexuality. It feels like the world wants Harry Styles to be gay.

Harry hasn’t made any official comment on his sexuality (there’s a rumor he’s bisexual). And why should he? Because of his choice of clothing? Is he using the camp style associated with the LGBT community to cause offense? No he’s expressing himself.  

LGBTQ+ fashion, freedom for all

Style is for expression. The camp style in particular associated with the community isn’t exclusive but it is important to be mindful. Maybe the next time we are putting our outfit together and if it perhaps includes a rainbow coat from Primark, we can take time to reflect. Let’s not forget what the rainbow flag symbolizes. The community has worked hard and sacrificed much  for gay and trans rights.  There is still so much homophobia and transphobia in our world today but I am a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Always be an ally and there’s always LGBTQ charities to donate towards!

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