Welcome back to Style Dossier, Gabrielle Royal’s column that profiles stylish queers across the country. This edition, Gabrielle is featuring Nico Le Blanc, a passionate yogi, writer, advocate and sociologist whose primary focus is to create a positive, empowering experience that facilitates vulnerability and healing for others and HerSelf. Nico is committed to the uplift, self-care, health and vitality of all.
Nico currently is a Career Counselor at Columbia University, a certified yoga instructor and an adjunct sociology professor. Nico holds a Master of Arts degree in Sociology, Education and Policy from Teachers College at Columbia University. In addition, Nico is also a music lover and DJ.
Gabrielle: Tell us a bit about your favorite outfit.
Nico: Bright, vibrant, bold, cultural, geometric pieces are what resonate with me. My favorite details in this outfit are the lines in the denim shirt, my cowrie shells, bloodstone necklace, and hard bottom shoes. I honestly don’t remember where I got the shirt, but I got the shoes from Aldo Men and pants from Forever 21 (yes, I still drop in there from time to time even though I’m well past 21).
I’ve never been into names/brands. I flow more along the lines of what resonates with me. So that means you will see me rocking items from Kaarta (an amazing African shop in Harlem), to the thrift store, to Zara Men.
Gabrielle: Who is your biggest fashion icon and why?
Nico: My biggest fashion icons are the folks who boldly walk in their truth and wear clothing that is reflective of who they know themselves to be. I love to see folks who aren’t afraid to do and wear what makes them feel good, even if it goes against societal standards. To me, when I see this, I feel like I am witnessing forms of liberation made manifest…and freedom is everything.
Gabrielle: How much of your personal style is influenced by your identity?
Nico: My personal style is entirely informed by my identities: Black, Queer, child of the Caribbean, Woman, Healer, Yogi, Spiritual Humanist, Advocate/Activist, and Masculine presenting…among others. I tend to keep my hair short, wear mascara from time to time, adorn myself with sacred geometry, keep crystals in my pockets, and wear men’s clothing. All of my identities are ones that most closely speak to my lived experiences. So, the clothing I wear is reflective of how I feel about and see MySelf in this realm. I identify very much with the feminine and masculine energies that flow through me that inform how I navigate my identities and how I navigate them in this reality. It happens to be that one of the ways that my masculine energy shows up is in how I dress. I don’t have a particular reason for this, other than it allows me to stand more firmly within MySelf.
Gabrielle: Why is queer visibility important and how does fashion help create space for members of our community?
Nico: Visibility is the state of being able to see or be seen. This is not only in the physical sense, but in the mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic senses as well. For many, what they cannot see (in every sense), simply doesn’t exist. For many, when they do not feel seen (in every sense), they feel they are not acknowledged as existing. Of course this doesn’t mean that the person actually does not exist, but it means they are not part of/included in the shared reality. And this creates the space to ignore, disregard, deny and harm. This is why Queer visibility is so important. Queerness needs to be seen and Queer identified folks need to feel and know they are seen. And this needs to happen in every sense of the word. This opens up the space to be acknowledged, accepted, loved, celebrated, and valued as a human BEing and member of society/the world.
I think fashion helps us to self-express in ways that feel authentic to us and that also squarely puts us within others line of vision in ways that they cannot deny what they see (physically at least). That will at least give pause to recognize that human BEings show up in a variety of ways that are valid and real.
Gabrielle: What challenges do you face in your profession, if any, as an LGBTQ person?
Nico: I’ve thankfully not faced too many challenges as a Queer person within my profession. I’ve worked in higher education since I graduated from college, so perhaps that is a reason? I’ve encountered the “so do you have a boyfriend?” question a handful of times, which was always stressful and alarming when I was younger, bringing up questions of “How honestly do I answer? Are you a safe person to out myself to? If I out myself will that change interpersonal dynamics?” However, outside of that question and all the internal dialogue/feelings that come with it, I’ve pretty much been supportive working environments. I know I’m very fortunate.
Gabrielle: Tell us about your biggest fashion and/or shopping fail!
Nico: My biggest fashion fail to date, was when I was in high school. Some friends and I went to the thrift store to see what gems we could find. I roamed the isles and a deep navy blue sleeve caught my eye. I yanked it out and it was a polyester navy blue zip up jacket with the British flag going across it. I. Thought. It. Was. Everything! I don’t know what I was thinking, but I rocked that jacket every chance I got!
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?
Nico: You, as you are, are here for a reason. Never doubt that. Destiny is what unfolds on the way to Fate. Keep making moves in line with your life’s purpose. You’re too dope. Too undeniably incredible. Too one of a kind. To let this realm miss out on your flyness. To sit this life out. Be about the hustle of unearthing your magic. We need you. I see you! I love you!
Gabrielle: Tell us something unique about you!
Nico: I was invited to go into training to become, in essence, a monk. It’s not for a religious sect of any kind, so it’s not quite being a monk. But it is for a particular path that’s based off of Taoist philosophy. I would be expected to make it make it my way of life, train every day, live with other masters, truly practice the art of letting go/detachment – be willing to let go of family, friends, etc. I had already been through a certain level of training and to be invited to do master training wasn’t something to take lightly. I struggled with if that was the path for me. I still am not quite sure if it’s the path for me.
Gabrielle: How did you hear about dapperQ? Why were you interested in a feature?
Nico: I’d heard of dapperQ before from friends, but never thought of doing something like a feature until I was asked if I’d like to do one. I decided to do it because representation of masculinity in all of its forms, matters.
*Photos by Gabrielle Royal