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World

2.28.2019

Gender Diaries: Saro

As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, Milk will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and, often, where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature musician Saro, who just released two new videos for “Please” and “Die Alone”

Growing up, I always walked the line between “masculine” and “feminine.”  I remember stealing my sister’s tutus to perform on the living room table. I was also way better than her at strutting around in my mom’s heels. My tomboy best friend and I spent our time reenacting Britney Spears music videos. I was scrawny and hated sports. Kids would tease me for having a high voice and for being “soft.” My earliest memories of attraction were to the same sex. When I was 15, my dad told me that if I was gay he would kill me. I receded deep inside myself. I forced myself to present “masculinity” as a defense mechanism, assimilating to my surroundings. On my 16th birthday, my mom bought me a giant truck that I later found was to make me “seem more masculine.” For years, I played a role when necessary and lived in fear of my secret being uncovered. The weight of a secret of that magnitude was crushing. I had recurring nightmares of my dad finding out and chasing me down a stairwell with a gun.

Luckily, I survived and grew into a man who knew what he wanted. A man who had zero tolerance for people who didn’t accept him for who he was. And though I identify as a man, I don’t believe that gender is set in stone nor is it about how “masculine” or “feminine” you present. Gender in a binary sense is an outdated social construct. I like to think it falls on a spectrum the same way Kinsey explains sexuality. All humans have both “masculine” and “feminine” traits. The problem is how these traits are highlighted or suppressed based on societal stigmatization. For men, masculinity means power. I think that’s why they cling so hard to it sometimes. I know girls who can do an oil change faster than most men, and I know boys who can beat a face (with makeup) better than most women. My hope for the future is that defining things as “masculine” or “feminine” will become obsolete.

It is common for people to be trapped in this binary thinking because it is so ingrained in society. I can feel a change beginning to swell though. The way social media now connects children to role models of all colors, sizes, sexualities, and genders has caused a massive shift. Likeminded, like-bodied people who have achieved their dreams are just a click away.

When I actually did come out to my family, it wasn’t as bad as the anticipation that led up to it. I went in with the intention to cut out anyone who didn’t accept it, but I was one of the lucky ones. My dad hugged me and said, “you’re still my sonny boy, and I love you.” I confronted him about what he said to me at that tender age of 15, and he told me that he didn’t remember ever saying it. I believe him and love him, and we are closer than ever now.

What is it about a garment that makes it gender specific? If I find a dress that looks good on me, you best believe I will be wearing it on stage for my next performance. Men are conditioned to think it’s strange for a man to wear a dress or skirt. That’s just fucking stupid. I’ve heard that in some Goodwills around the country they no longer separate clothes by gender. That makes me proud.

I think that fluidity is one of the keys to great art—blurring lines and blending influences. And though humans will continue putting each other in boxes, the real visionaries will continue to break out to move the world forward. I am so lucky to know some people who have transcended gender, and they’re the brightest stars in my sky. I am so excited about this new frontier we are entering where fluidity is more prominent than ever. After all, I think everyone deserves to feel the wind blow up their skirt once in a while.

Images courtesy of Saro

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

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