Gender Diaries: Barbs
As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, MILK.XYZ will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and, often, where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature London-based queer composer & drag queen Barbs.
I first discovered the London drag scene in 2015 when I got a job in a Dalston superstore and LBGTQA+ bar in Dalston, London. I was invited to go-go dance one day and my housemate at the time was experimenting with makeup so put me in drag and that was the first time I went out in drag. Drag is a brilliant form for self-expression and as queer folk we are constantly discriminated against or fetishized for our attributes—to the straight world I am ‘too gay’ and to the gay world I am ‘too femme’—so drag for me is a way of taking these attributes, sprinkling some glitter on them and reclaiming them. The attributes that I was bullied for at school are now paying my bills and I can have fun with it. I can explore my femininity in a way that suits me that I am in control of and challenges people’s perception of what femininity is. Drag is a powerful form of self expression that helps heal the wounds of systemic oppression—or at least make it more bearable—and can be a powerful voice for a community that so often gets its voice silenced. Thankfully I have a very accepting family and support network around me, drag has opened me to a sense of family through my community and it is my moral responsibility to use that privilege to be there, support and speak up for my siblings. I find the process of transforming into BARBS fascinating and therapeutic and has opened me to a world of color and shapes that I was restricted to by the dreaded mens section of every clothing shop and I could become less uniform and more of the individual I have been striving to be. Drag has improved my life in every sense and has touched others around me and its a journey that fills me with opportunity and excitement that I have never had before.
Ever since I was a child I have been ‘playing with gender’ or acting outside of society’s gender norms. When I was about seven I used to have long hair and would often be mistaken as a girl and I loved the confusion of the gray area between the gender binary. As I grew older I spent so long confused about who I was, my sexuality and my gender until I finally came to realize that the gray area was a spectrum and what I had been conditioned to believe my whole life was constructed and planned. I now feel like I am my own gender and I identify as non-binary meaning I am outside of the gender binary.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.