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Gender Diaries: Lemon Chiffon

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 bearded princess Lemon Chiffon.

My name is Ross McCallum, but you might also know me as Lemon Chiffon. Where does Ross end, and Lemon Chiffon start? I can’t really tell you that. She was born out of a need for creative, self-expression and allows me to play with the spectrum of “gender”, all mixed up, and presented in bright colors and a lot of glitter.

It’s a typical story, of any gay boy coming from a small town. My small town just happened to be in Australia, and then I moved to the big city. My first CD was the Spice Girls, I used to try on my mum’s clothing, I danced all through high school, and, of course, all my friends were girls. In a way, I have always been exploring what is “normal” for my gender.

It comes as no surprise that Lemon Chiffon first took form at a Drag Party, and of course, it was Halloween. I currently work as a Fashion Stylist, and used to be a Makeup Artist, so the progression to Drag Queen really wasn’t that far of a reach.

Living in New York, I have found that you can truly be whoever you want to be. Everyone moves here to pursue their dreams (though it sounds cliché, it’s true). There are no rules. You can be a free spirit. Everyone is in the same boat. I have seen this, even more so, living in Brooklyn, and going out to parties or events like Straight Acting and Bushwig. I have seen so many different types of Drag performances, exploring all types of gender expression. It is here, that I found a place to have the ability to express myself and the confidence to fit in; allowing myself to be Lemon outside of a Party or Halloween.

The reasons for Lemon being a bearded Queen have developed over time. The first time I did drag, I fully shaved my face, as that’s what I thought you had to do as a Drag Queen. After seeing bearded Drag in Brooklyn, I realized that I didn’t have to. It was more fun to blur the lines of gender with a beard, so I fully embraced the Bearded Queendom. Another major contributing factor to my being a bearded Queen, is that, outside of Drag, I think I look too young, when clean shaven. The more I get into it, the more I enjoy playing with the contradiction of a beard versus the hyper-feminine makeup and clothing. I feel fabulous and fishy as f**k (Drag Queen for female passing) and no one can tell me otherwise. I know I don’t look like what society has told us a “women” should look like, but I feel like Diva and a Goddess.

Society has taught, or should I say conditioned us, to believe what men and women should look like, and wear. Being a part of the Drag world, and expressing myself as Lemon, I have been opened up to the world of Gender Expression. Lemon has given me the confidence to express myself, to further blur the lines of where Ross ends and Lemon starts. I have been wearing more makeup as a boy as well as varying my wardrobe to include skirts. There are so many amazing people out there, pushing the gender boundaries so much further than me; but I know Drag has opened my eyes, and those of many people around me, to what’s possible in exploring Gender. My journey has been exposed to people at home in Australia, my friends, my family, and young followers, like my cousin’s children. It’s allowing people who are growing up around me to see that they can express themselves in all different kinds of ways.

In the words of Ru Paul, “We are all born naked and the rest is Drag.” We are all performing, and all putting ourselves in some form of Drag to get us through the day. We all have varying levels of this Drag persona that we put on each day, before we leave the house. It may be as simple as putting on red lipstick to make you feel sexy, or a suit to make you feel powerful. I think clothing and makeup are tools that we use, to get what we want. To get a job, a sexual partner, to fit in, to stand out. I think we are all – even in a small way – performing a small act of Drag each day, expressing our gender, even if it is the one you were assigned at birth. You are creating your own persona or editing how you want people to see you.

Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.  

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