Gender Diaries: Luca D'Angelo
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 where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature NYC activist Luca D’Angelo.
I suppose a good way to start this off is to mention that, as of right now, I’m comfortable with any pronouns and also that this article is the first time I’m going to be addressing myself to the general public with a name other than my birth name, so that’s pretty cool for me. Truthfully, I thought it’d be a lot easier to start associating myself with a different name but I’m having a hard time enforcing it, so I figured I’d just really go for it this time.
Anyway, the discussion of gender and sexuality has only recently become a widespread topic among society. To me, they’re both such simple and complex things for many reasons. Gender and sexuality are meaningless to me in the sense that they don’t actually exist, they’re two of many social constructs created to categorize and assimilate people, and it amazes me how much hatred people possess towards others over things that aren’t real. Why do you care so much about who I love, how I look, and what’s between my legs? Why are those the only things you’re basing your opinion of me off of when you don’t even know me? It’s seriously wild to me how stuck people are on such superficial characteristics, but it’s sadly a reality. With that in mind, gender and sexuality are also incredibly meaningful to me due to the fact that the gender and sexuality binaries have been so immensely ingrained in our societal structure that a lot of my life has been defined or shaped around the fact that I fall outside of both those binaries. That being said, gender and sexuality are a huge part of who I am. For some, gender and sexuality are extremely significant and defining components of their identity and want that to be clear and recognizable to others, while some people feel otherwise and don’t want to be known mainly for their sexuality or gender. In my case, gender and sexuality play hugely significant roles in my identity and growth as a constantly evolving human.
We are developing and learning through the entirety of our life, from the moment we are born until the moment we die. For this reason, gender and sexuality have had huge impacts on my identity, self-expression, and self-awareness since as long as I can remember. They are crucial aspects of my identity and how I love and understand myself. With that in consideration, there is also far more to me than just being queer and non-binary, the thing is that I want you to see my queerness and gender fluidity. I want to be visible to everyone. I want you to see how proud I am to be visibly queer and gender non-conforming. Because I am a queer, non-binary person living in a heterosexual, cisgender world but I am here, I exist, I am proud, and I am surviving in a system not made with people like me and my community in mind, and I want everyone to know that. Whether you can relate to my existence or just learn from my existence, I want you to see me and know who I am for the things that have sculpted me into the person I am today, which includes gender and sexuality. I want it to be known that my struggle hasn’t broken and will not break me, it has only made me stronger and more empowered, and I intend to let that be known.
Speaking of self-expression, fashion is definitely something that liberates me on a day-to-day basis. How I dress and what I wear is incredibly important to me because it allows me to present myself the way that I want to. I remember the animosity I felt toward myself and how uncomfortable I felt in “girl” clothes, but I felt so liberated once I started dressing how I desired. While my style may be constantly evolving, the way I present myself still carries the same message. Not being comfortable with how you look takes a huge toll on one’s confidence and self-love, and being forced to look differently than yourself is even more taxing on one’s mental/emotional health and is potentially life-threatening for some. Therefore, fashion is a way of me owning myself and is definitely tied into my gender and sexuality. The fashion industry is also doing a pretty solid job at creating queer and non-binary representation/visibility and I’m grateful to be living in a time where the industry is catering more to the LGBTQIA+ Community. Although, the heartbreaking thing regarding gender and sexuality is that many people in my community, especially transgender women of color, have lost their lives simply for existing as themselves.
Additionally, many are not as privileged as I am to be living in a very accepting place with an incredible support-system of family and friends, therefore, making it very hard for them to be able to be as open about their gender and sexuality as I am because it’s a threat to their well-being. Knowing this, I plan on using the power I’ve found within my gender and sexuality to fight for a safer, more tolerant world where everyone is able to express themselves as freely as I have the privilege of doing so.
Featured image courtesy of Maro Hagopian
Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.