Queer visibility in media can lead to positive, as well as negative, cultural change. The 2019 Showtime series Work In Progress reminds us that negative portrayals of queer characters in media can have long-lasting, devastating effects on individuals and communities. The show’s main character, Abby, tackles the trauma that was inflicted upon queer people due to the mocking of androgynous gender expression in the once popular Saturday Night Live skit “It’s Pat.” In short, visibility does not necessarily equal liberation.
When it comes to clichéd stereotypes in film and television, queer women, non-binary, and transgender characters have received more than their fair share what it comes to fashion. (The mainstream stereotype that reigned supreme 10 years ago when dapperQ first launched, and that still lingers today, is that gay men are the vanguards of tasteful fashion; The rest of the rainbow is often styled as a fashion trope.) Take for example the popular “Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians” website. At the height of the site’s popularity, it was featured in GQ, Vice, The Atlantic, and even New York City’s own “progressive” Village Voice. (All of these outlets have edited their pages to point links directly to the original website and/or have deleted some, if not all, of their original content.) This ageist, misogynist, and homophobic joke served to advance the narrative that all lesbians can only be one thing what it comes to fashion: both masculine andunfashionable. The site also served to shame men for not performing masculinity according to society’s narrow standards. These types of tropes extend beyond lesbian identities.
The irony is that there are many people in society, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender presentation, who do not care for fashion or to invest much time into playing by society’s style rules. (Take a ride on a subway or trip to any mall and you can see that most people dress rather ordinary outside the confines of our highly curated Instagram feeds — function reigns over fashion in the real world.) However, it is often members of the queer community who are held to different standards, who are stereotyped, and who are bullied and mocked for our clothing.
That said, we a look back at a decade of film and t.v. to celebrate moments when dapperQ’s took center stage as fashion icons, breaking old stereotypes and making powerful statements proving that our wide-ranging styles are indeed glorious! (Note: We already agree that there needs to be more diverse and PLUS SIZE characters flexing their queer fashion on film and t.v. in 2020 and moving forward.)