I distinctly remember the first time I heard someone describe a look as “gay” without the negative connotations behind it. It defined the gay dress code for me as a baby gay. (Part 3/6).
I grew up in a small town with the same group of roughly 100 kids who followed you throughout school–kindergarten to graduation. Changing your style (or identity) came with breaking a few rules and shattering the perception that your classmates, your other schoolmates not in your grade, your teachers, your administrators, your classmates’ parents, and your town had about you. So, although high school came with some slight alterations in style, no dramatic changes took place until I left the cows and cornfields for college.
The first year of uni provided high-speed internet for the first time in my life, and therefore, an avenue for learning my new favorite sport: binge-watching. I devoured the first season of Orphan Black in days and spent a lot of time in the online fan community for the show, who’s character roster included a lesbian, a bi woman, and a gay man. Season 2 episode 3 dressed the bi woman in an outfit that queer Tumblr users described as “the gayest outfit she’s ever worn.”
This shifted my wardrobe to some long-sleeve collared button-ups, which I often paired with cardigans or sweaters. I don’t particularly remember seeking out what other gay stereotypes might’ve included, just that I was a tad more in tune with them, and not necessarily ready to embrace them. I always had a thing for flannels though, and learning about the stereotypes lead me to adding more to the rotation.
I still kept a lot of the bright colors and bold patterns from the past, and in fact, kept adding to it. I owned a few pairs of knitted leggings with Christmas patterns on them, still kept my colorful galaxy pants as a regular cast member, and colored jeans ranged from purple to teal to bright pink to green. I awkwardly flipped from the loud colors to a reserved shy-style with the button-up and sweater combo.
My hair still suffered a great deal of no patience for taming and still opting for a hat on most days. Luckily, trudging through snow between classes gave me a good reason to ditch fedoras for a practical wool-knit winter hat, and those damned fedoras never came back after the snow melted.
Sometimes I used eye makeup, mostly I was still too scared of makeup to want to try it out. Eyeliner became quite a staple for a while. Black. And a lot of it. Occasionally accompanied by something shimmery on the lids. But never anything for the lips or face in general. I switched to a large, blue hipster-type glasses frame that I kept for years.
It’d been around this time that I started dating my girlfriend and come to terms with not being straight. I’d been trying new styles and testing my comfort with gay stereotypes before jumping in head-first (which I certainly did in the remaining years of university).