HMN CREATIVE x SAMMY KIM x BAO NGO
I like to think that I’m fluid.
In the way that I’m able to go with the flow, how adaptable I am, how I allow thoughts and feelings to wash over me and shape me, but never consume me, how I like to move around and fit in places that may be unexpected.
I’ve always identified with my feminine side. Being soft and sensitive come easy to me. But being masculine was never comfortable for me growing up.
It never felt like it belonged to me. Wearing suits with ties or oversized basketball shorts that extended beyond my knees felt phony. I longed to try on my sister’s spaghetti strap tank tops and denim squorts, but instead settled on wearing my creamsicle capris and fitted baby t-shirts.
I was internally tormented when I was heavily closeted in middle school, intentionally deepening my speaking voice and carefully omitting the bounce in my stride to hide how different I was.
But within the past year, I’ve learned a precious secret that fully relinquished these insecurities - I realized that all gender is purely performative. All the different ways we present ourselves in the physical world are performative, none are more genuine or disingenuous than another.
This newfound knowledge meant that suddenly all these signifiers of identity were free for me to claim.
Surprisingly, identifying as genderqueer sparked a reclamation to my masculinity. Now, I find comfort in feeling hard and angular and rough and gritty, through my thinking, my mannerisms, and my dress.
I have new eyes, new tools that allow me to adapt to my surroundings without feeling like my identity is compromised. And I’ve been pushing the arbitrary boundaries of masculinity, finding that sometimes wearing traditionally feminine things like skirts and crop tops and nail polish actually make me feel quite masc.
Ultimately, I can do it all, because my identity is never just one thing at any given moment. I can be soft and stern, I can be rough and tender, I can be masc and femme.
I like to push what’s expected or accepted as the norm through incorporating a bit of fantasy into everyday wear.
I love mixing and matching, putting together otherwise incongruous colors, patterns, textures, shapes, and styles - it’s like visual poetry.
When other people see me, I want them to think.
I want people to know that I am conscious and selective with the elements that I adorn my body with every morning.
That I am aware of the statements I make when I play this game of fashion that everyone is a part of, that I am trying to push our collective understanding of what is acceptable and appropriate attire.
That I am serious about my love for play, and also playfully serious.
That I know who I am, and I invite you to know who I am as well.
That I invite you to take a closer look at me, and at yourself, and question why you put on what you do.
That I am joyous, and alive, and smart, and fun!
That I am free.
And that they can free themselves too.