Welcome back to Style Dossier, Gabrielle Royal’s column that profiles stylish queers across the country. For her latest edition of Style Dossier, Gabrielle is celebrating the style of Naa Akua, a spoken word artist and emcee from Mount Vernon, now residing in the Bronx, New York. Naa prefers the pronouns: she, her, them, they.
Gabrielle: Who is your biggest fashion icon and why?
Naa: Funny thing is, I don’t I have a fashion icon that’s known! As I got older, I do remember looking at black and white pictures of my grandfather that impressed me. I wanted to follow his look and his style. My grandfather gave me the desire to wear suits and hats and look fly.
Gabrielle: How much of your personal style is influenced by your identity?
Naa: When I was young, I always wanted to wear jeans and sneakers and most of the time borrow my father’s shirts and button downs. Everyone labeled me a tomboy, but I just saw it as me being comfortable. That comfort never changed as I got older. However, now I am able to say who I am. I am two spirited, though I am not of Native American descent. I feel I carry the balance of masculine and feminine energy. So my style expresses the comfort I have with both energies.
Gabrielle: Why is queer visibility important and how does fashion help create space for members of our community?
Naa: I feel queer visibility is important because many of us – whether young, middle aged, or in the golden years – are still afraid to come out (and I know it’s for many reasons). Talking to someone who just came out to their parents last year, the process is real, but the outcome, no matter what, is a meaningful one. I believe fashion creates a space to express such visibility. Fashion is the answer to your question, “Well, how do I feel today?” It allows you and many others to experience your mood or feeling. I believe fashion within the LGBTQ community gives us a chance to all have a voice.
Gabrielle: What challenges do you face in your profession, if any, as an LGBTQ person?
Naa: I see my life as a learning experience and everyone can choose if they like to learn with me. So I won’t say that I see challenges as an LGBTQ person. I see more opportunities to learn and teach. Whether I’m on stage performing, working with youth, or talking to co-workers about everyday life, all will get a chance to see that we are not that different from each other.
Gabrielle: Tell us about your biggest fashion and/or shopping fail.
Naa: Biggest fashion fail: turquoise wrestling boots. I’m not too sure why I thought that was a good idea!
Gabrielle: What advice would you give our readership? What advice can you offer to people who fit outside of society’s understanding of traditionally masculine and feminine styles?
Naa: When you know it, you own it. Now you’re not making a statement, you’re just being you. So, no matter who sees you, they will respect the confidence that you carry and the clothes that adorn it.
Gabrielle: Tell us something unique about yourself.
Naa: What I find unique about myself is that I truly feel I have the ability to create a space for people to feel comfortable and to connect with me on a human to human level.
Gabrielle: How did you hear about dapperQ? Why were you interested in a feature?
Naa: I heard about dapperQ through the great world of Instagram. I became interested in becoming a feature when I saw myself in every picture and story I had seen. I was one of many who were searching for visibility.
Want more Naa? Follow on social media:
Instagram : @naa_accepts
Facebook: Naa Akua
Soundcloud: Naa Akua
Photos by Jeanesque Photography