My definition of queerness is that which is outside the confines of mainstream American Heteronormativity and (white) male-dominated society. You do not have to be Transgender, Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Pan, A-Sexual, Demi-sexual, etc to be queer.
I often fantasize about queer unification. So often the alphabet soup of the LGBTIQQA+ is grouped and lumped together as if we were all fighting for the same rights and privileges, as if we were one group working together to make a better tomorrow for all of us, when in reality we are many disparate groups of people often fighting against one another to be seen and recognized by the greater society.
In most cases, culture is the collection of traditions, values, and forms of expression of people from a geographic location in the world or it is an ethnicity shared by a group of people. But in the queer community what brings us together is our queerness, not our geography or ethnicity (although race is still a divisive factor in the queer community).
To support and encourage queer culture through fashion, I envision a store that is dedicated to the following vision:
This clothing store and cultural center will give customers and members of the community something they cannot get online: the feeling of a uniquely queer space- a welcoming refuge- a place to celebrate queerness through fashion, culture and other forms of self and community expression.
In my mind, queer fashion and self-expression can be a way to fuse us (queer people) together. We may not have a collection of foods we can call our own but we have fashion, music, design, film and other forms of art. These are some of the positive things that can bring the community together. This store will serve as a refuge from the daily oppression LGBT+ people experience. We have an opportunity in a free market society to create business and brands that share our values and cradle us well as cultivate our shared culture and love of life.
I imagine a place similar to the business model of a Goodwill store but much more elevated. Like Goodwill, I’d like to see this space employee underserved or underemployed people from the queer community. People would donate their clothes (with limitations) to the store. In some cases regarding designer wears or more expensive one-of-a-kind pieces, the store could purchase some pieces. The store itself would have strong merchandising and be curated and refined, much like a boutique, but without being so expensive.
On staff would be a seamstress and a cobbler. As the store grows I’d hope to see some apprenticeships and opportunities for learning and knowledge-sharing. Ultimately, I’d like to have queer designers on staff, re-purposing and customizing clothing for queer clients.
Each month we will have runway shows or balls. There will be talks held and group meetings. While focusing on queer fashion, the space would also center around queer culture and different forms of queer expression and learning.
Next to find an affordable and accessible location to take up some space.
The ultimate question I must ask myself is, "why am I not more like myself? Why am I not more like the person I was born to be?" My soul and yours are equally a spark of G-d, the universe or whatever you believe but each spark bring a unique light into the world. It shines in a way no other soul can, and we have the opportunity to bring goodness, holiness, righteousness, and healing in specific ways and to specific people and situations which no one else can.