Entertainment

These Celebs Are Pushing The Concept Of Gender Further Than Ever Before And That Is Something To Celebrate

Non-binary individuals, also known as genderqueer, encompasses a spectrum of gender identities that escape the traditional definitions of masculine and feminine. In short, their gender identity falls outside the man/woman gender binary, outside cisgender paradigms (cisgender refers to a person whose personal identity and gender both correspond to their birth sex). For years, genderqueer folks were forced to live in the shadows, either due to conservative social norms or due to lack of awareness of this identity.

Recently, a group of celebs have come out as non-binary and we think that’s fabulous. We can think, for example, of Australian model Ruby Rose (remember their steamy affair with Piper in “Orange is the New Black”? Just this month “Queer Eye”hairstylist extraordinaire Jonathan Van Ness came out as non-binary. He told OUT magazine: “The older I get, the more I think that I’m nonbinary — I’m gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman. I don’t really — I think my energies are really all over the place. Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I’m here for it. I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to. I always used to think ‘Oh, I’m like a gay man,’ but I think any way I can let little boys and little girls know that they can express themselves and they can like be.” This pretty much sums up what genderqueer identity is all about.

Because we celebrate identities of all forms, here are some genderqueer POC stars that make us proud and happy! Some of them have identified as genderqueer while others have broken the paradigms of cisnormativity. Bien por ellos, muy bien!

Rico Dalasam, the Brazilian rap dynamo

Credit: ricodalasam / Instagram

This Brazilian rap artist and former hairdresser has taken his genderqueer identity to powerful lyrics of political resistance. He told Vice: “All the marginal communities I’m a part of—young, black, gay—all of these identities are forced to be ashamed by the oppressor. But I’m the potential of resistance.” With a career that started in 2014, Rico Dalasam has achieved success thanks to his high couture looks and remorseless combative attitude.

Bad Bunny, the boricua marvel

Credit: badbunnyofficial / Instagram

Bad Bunny wears long nails and jewelry that would commonly be associated with a feminine aesthetic. As we have reported, he is unbothered by those who criticize his non-binary moda. He identifies as a straight man but finds inspiration in the queer community. He has talked about his fashion choices in a GQ interview: “There’s people that appreciate what I do; there’s people that criticize it,. There’s people who say, ‘Thank you for sticking up [for us], thank you for defending [this].’ There’s others that say I’m an opportunist.” Be what it may, Bad Bunny is challenging the role of masculinity in urban culture and in a musical genre, reggaeton, that is often criticized for its often sexist lyrics.

Valentina, global drag phenomenon

Credit: allaboutvalentina / Instagram

“I identify as nonbinary,” Valentina told Out in an interview. “I don’t completely feel like a man, I don’t completely feel like a woman. I feel like a goddess. I feel like I’m my own gender.”

The “RuPaul’s Drag Race” superstar is one of the most recognizable faces in the drag world. We are so proud of the Latino representation Valentina has been able to bring to the drag world.

Chaska Sofia a.k.a DJ Precolumbian, the amazing Peruvian music powerhouse

Making it in the electronic music scene is not easy, and much less so if you are a genderqueer Peruvian DJ. Bue Chaska Sofia has played in the creme de la creme of the London underground scene. They told the magazine Electic Llama: “I feel like I identify more as a woman now; I’ve been transitioning for almost five years. I like the term ‘genderqueer’ because it challenges not just sexuality, but also gender.”

Aja, bruja extravaganza

Credit: ajathekween / Instagram

Aja’s experience coming to terms with her gender identity was a long one.

“When I was 18, I actually lived as a trans woman for almost a year,” Aja told Them. “I thought I was trans, and then I learned through the education of the queer community about being non-binary, genderqueer, and all these different [identities]. I realized that I do feel like a woman, but I feel comfortable in my body. I don’t feel the need to change anything. I don’t feel the need to appear more feminine to society’s standards.”

Amandla Stenberg, from “The Hunger Games” to queer advocate

Credit: amandlasponsored / Instagram

This amazing African-American young actress openly uses they/them as pronouns. She came out as non-binary on Tumblr (before she came out to her family!), by writing: “I honestly don’t know… I mean they/them makes me feel comfortable but I know that the media and the general populace that follows me will critique it/not understand which makes me feel sad and almost more uncomfortable. So I guess she/her for now”. Not in the cisgender closet anymore, dear Amandla! 

Jaden Smith, the prodigal son

Credit: c.syresmith / Instagram

The son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith first gained notoriety regarding his non-gendered persona in 2016, when he started using women’s clothing. Even though he identifies as a straight man, Jaden has become an ally of genderqueer individuals in that he epitomizes the rejection of constrictive gender norms. Good for him. When he was criticized for wearing dresses, he tweeted: “If I Wanna Wear A Dress, Then I Will, And That Will Set The New Wave… -JADEN SMITH #ICON.” 

Liniker Barros, the Brazilian soul star

Credit: linikeroficial / Instagram

Samba and Latin rhythms find a nice home in the tender voice of this musical prodigy. Liniker is the lead singer if the band Liniker and the Caramelows, and many of their lyrics focus on the joy and tribulations of those who are not cisgender. They told the Spanish newspaper El Pais: “Why should I wear jeans and a T-shirt and present myself as just a voice? My body is political. I need to show my audience what I’m living.” Liniker is well aware of the fact that they represent a wider community. They told Now: “[My] visibility as a singer helps me occupy spaces that aren’t the usual ones for trans women. That representation is so important. Brazil remains a very transphobic, chauvinist, racist country, with a lot of hate speech. When a trans woman takes the stage, that alone is political.”

Angel Haze, rapping for freedom

Credit: angelhaze / Instagram

Born Raykeea Raeen-Roes Wilson, this rap artist identifies as pansexual and agender. Angel Haza has said: “I sound like four people when I get written about as ‘they.’ It drives me crazy. If you call me ‘him’ or ‘her’ it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t consider myself of any sex. I consider myself an experience.” Quite an interesting and revolutionary approach! Angel Haze used to date Ireland Baldwin, the daughter of Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin. 

Jenny Shimizu, the norm-defying model

Credit: jennyshimizu / Instagram

This Asian-American model has defiedCredit: linikeroficial / Instagram the looks that are “acceptable” on the catwalk. With her short hair and fluid identity she defied the expectations of the fashion industry. She is rumored to have had a relationship with Madonna. A genderqueer style icon for the ages. She loves being called “handsome”, which says a lot about her genderless philosophy. 

Grace Jones, the queer icon

Credit: gracejonesofficial / Instagram

During the 1980s, in the midst of the conservatism of the Reagan era, Grace Jones was a gender-bending phenomenon who became a queer icon. Jones was born in Jamaica and now, even being over 70, she is still a fashion pioneer. Long live Grace Jones, the patron saint of genderqueer! She said in her memoirs: “Those who demand that you conform the most to how they live are the ones who are the most scared and intimidated by life.” Preach!

READ: Marvel Is Bringing More LGBTQ Characters To The Universe

Vogue Mexico Teamed Up With British Vogue To Show The Beauty Of ‘Muxes’ An Ancestral Gender-Fluid Indigenous Community

Fierce

Vogue Mexico Teamed Up With British Vogue To Show The Beauty Of ‘Muxes’ An Ancestral Gender-Fluid Indigenous Community

voguemexico/ Instagram

Sometimes, fashion is more than just a mirror of society. In a few instances, the fashion industry has actually been responsible for reshaping reality rather than just mirroring it. One way it does this is by breaking taboos and introducing marginalized ideas into the mainstream. The current visibility of transgender people is a development that the fashion world has embraced in recent years. Granted, fashion’s focus on the topic is, more often than not, on the “blurring of traditional lines between genders” to explore androgyny, but many designers and brands are currently emphasizing on a ‘gender-neutral’ and non-binary ethos. The editorial side of fashion however, has been a bit slow to embrace representation and support genderqueer people—but this month, Vogue Mexico and Latin-America, in collaboration with British Vogue, are leading the charge, by dedicating their cover story to a small group of people in Juchitán Oaxaca who seek to live outside of binary labels: Los Muxes.

Vogue Mexico and Latin-America has proven to be the most ‘woke’ publication of Conde Nast’s portfolio this year.

instagram @voguemexico

 The magazine has doubled up on its efforts for representation and diversity. Just this year they made history by featuring an indigenous woman, Yalitza Aparicio, on the cover of a magazine for the very first time, ever. A few months later they featured four Afro-Latinas on their cover and opened the floor to discussion about what being Afro-Latina means. Just last month they honored indigenous women of different parts of Latin America for their 20th anniversary issue. And now, the magazine is shining a light on a centuries-old non-binary indigenous community of rural Mexico, and introducing them to the world. 

In recent years, Oaxaca has become somewhat of a trendy destination. 

instagram @oaxtravel

The Zapotec state is a multicultural hub in the south of Mexico known for its delicious climate, rich food and complex history. The people of Oaxaca have fought hard to keep a lot of their centuries-old traditions and beliefs alive, and one of these beliefs —or rather, a group of people— is called “muxes.”

In Juchitán, a small indigenous town in Southern Oaxaca, a community of individuals known as ‘Muxes’, seek to live free of binary labels “male” and “female.”

instagram @johnohono

 The word muxes also spelled muxhes in some instances, comes from the Spanish word for woman “mujer,” and it generally represents people who are assigned male at birth, but identify as non-binary. Muxes have their own gender identity, different from what the West has traditionally dubbed to be female and male. 

The iterations among the Muxe community and their self-identifications vary – some identify as male but are female-expressing, while others identify as female and are more closely associated with Western culture’s understanding of transgender. In their culture, the term “third gender” might be more suitable to define Muxes. 

Muxes are ‘dual’ beings, they don’t believe in being ‘female’ or ‘male’, they simply are.

Instagram @salvadorconpan

“To be muxe is a duality. We carry out the role depending on the circumstances, sometimes I might seem like a man, and others like a woman,” says Pedro Enriquez Godínez Gutiérrez, a person known locally in Juchitán as “La Kika,” in an interview with Vogue Mexico. Apart from being a muxe, he’s the Director of Sexual Diversity of Juchitán Town Hall. 

Muxes have lived in Juchitan since pre-hispanic times, there are a few indigenous legends that explain their origins and give a faith to the antiquity of their existence.

instagram @voguemexico

There are two legends in Juchitán, that recount the origin of Muxes. One says that San Vicente Ferrer, the holy patron of Juchitán, had a pocket with holes in it, from which they fell out of. Another version says that as he walked the earth, San Vicente Ferrer, always carried three bags: one with male seeds, another loaded with female seeds, and a third that contained both seeds, mixed up. This last bag was the one that broke as he walked through Juchitán, and that is why there are so many muxes there. 

The people of Juchitán are a sort of pre-hispanic family. In this town the women are as strong as the men and muxes are as respected as both men and women. Ironically, the system of tolerance and respect that’s existed there for centuries is considered ‘modern’, elsewhere. 

Mixes are a community that not even the 21st century can wrap its head around. 

Instagram @rafa213

“Gubixha bizaani guirá neza guzá ca,” writes Vogue Mexico, is Zapotec for “the sun illuminated all the roads they have walked”, and perhaps that is why they can walk the streets without fear in a predominantly Catholic country that still struggles to offer equal rights for women and that is mostly intolerant of sexual orientations and preferences, Juchitán remains greatly untouched by this hate. Muxes walk the streets with flowers in their hair, they wear light huipiles —a traditional garment worn by indigenous women— and colorful skirts. This indigenous town is a model of how a culture can make space for life outside of the binary. Juchitán is an example to even the most progressive cities of the world. 

Vogue Mexico and Latin America teamed up with British Vogue to celebrate both British and Mexican talent. 

Instagram @voguemexico

The collaboration marked the first time both publications work together on a joint story. The experience allowed both publications to exchange ideas and share their cultures. Vogue Mexico’s cover, featuring Estrella, one of the muxes from Juchitán, was shot by Tim Walker, the iconic British fashion photographer, and the story will be published on both magazines for the month of December. 

Vogue Mexico’s Editor-In-Chief took to Instagram to share the news of the cover story. 

Instagram @karlamartinezdesalas

“It’s finally here!!! We are releasing one of our December covers early as it is a special joint collaboration with @britishvogue – thank you @edward_enninful for featur[ing] the beauty of MEXICO in the pages of British Vogue. No one could have captured the magical realism better than Tim Walker and Kate Phelan. Stay tuned for more!” wrote the Mexican editor Karla Martinez de Salas on her personal Instagram page.

Vogue Mexico’s December issue will be available nation-wide starting December 1st.  

This Woman’s Viral Poem Explores The Cultural Stigma Attached To LGBTQ Identities

Fierce

This Woman’s Viral Poem Explores The Cultural Stigma Attached To LGBTQ Identities

@2shotsofmely / Twitter

We all know how annoying family can be, nitpicking and offering opinions about how we choose to live our lives. Sometimes, though, our relatives’ perspectives are more than frustrating—they can be hurtful, causing us to question and doubt our place in the world. For many of us, it may be really difficult to address these issues with our loved ones, and we might often need to process these complex situations on our own before we can make any progress within our relationships. For Twitter user Hot Girl Scholar (@2shotsofmely), art was part of this process. She addressed some deep family conflict through poetry, and y’all, Twitter was shook.

According to her pinned tweet, @2shotsofmely and her family emigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic when she was seven years old. In May of this year, she graduated cum laude from Clark University with a BA in English and a minor in Education, ecstatic to dedicate her degree to immigrant and first-generation students. By embracing her role as a “hood girl, educator, and undercover poet,” @2shotsofmely is “living [her] mama’s wildest dreams”—although the poems that have electrified Twitter focus on some hard-to-swallow cultural viewpoints, reiterated by su madre y su abuela.

In poetry, the author of the poem is not always the speaker of the poem, but because of the caption in @2shotsofmely’s post (“Heard it so much I wrote poems about it”), it is clear that these poems—displayed on the walls of Elevated Thought, a Lawrence-based art and social justice organization—are written from her perspective. 

In one poem, “Negra Yo, Pero El No!,” @2shotsofmely acknowledges the hypocrisy (and the shadowy nature of racism and colorism) that defines how her mother reacts to a hypothetical boyfriend: based on the title, we know that @2shotsofmely’s mother is black, yet she proclaims that if @2shotsofmely ever dated a moreno, he must have a thin nose—la nariz fina—green eyes like @2shotsofmely’s grandfather, and “good hair.” In other words, he must not have black features. Why? “Because hay que refinar la raza.”

In the other poem, “LGBTQue?,” @2shotsofmely explores the cultural stigma attached to LGBTQ identities, affirming that her grandmother would “prefer [we] open [our] legs for all the men in the barrio before we walk around with a sister in our arms.”

The original tweet has garnered over 2.3k likes and 900 retweets—people can’t stop gassing @2shotsofmely’s badass display of honesty, the simultaneous pride in and critique of her roots. Several people expressed solidarity, citing events from their own lives that mirrored @2shotsofmely’s poetry.

This Twitter user really related to @2shotsofmely’s experience on the receiving end of her mother’s words.

This Latina responded in Spanish, explaining that her own grandmother married a white man para “mejorar la raza,” but affirmed that it wasn’t her fault—this point of view, according to @ditasea88, is a remnant of colonization.

This Twitter user applauded “LGBTQue?” for its resonance and truth.

Her poems even moved some folks to tears.

Although each of these tweets suggests a common experience which is largely negative, the response to @2shotsofmely’s poetry was rich with compassion—not only for those other Twitter users who share that experience, but for the madres y abuelas whose lives were very different than ours, and who had to make different decisions as a result. History is complex and difficult to synthesize without a broad contextual understanding, and @2shotsofmely’s work draws attention to how cultural patterns from the past can leave a dark impact on the present. However, alongside the criticism and pain at the core of these poems, there is something else: a sense of defiance and hope.

Now, in the midst of the political chaos within our country, it is especially important to celebrate the victories of individuals and groups creating supportive platforms for folks—particularly people of color—to express themselves. It is always exciting to see expressions of Latinidad—from art to poetry to a bomb Insta selfie—spark conversation and communion, even if people are relating about moments that have left them hurt or bruised. In a way, this type of conversation creates a sense of camaraderie, amistad—a feeling of familia.  

And although a lot of Latina familias struggle with antiquated viewpoints (like those presented in @2shotsofmely’s poems), times are changing, and cultural expectations are becoming more inclusive to Latinx people with a range of diverse identities. Often, the more difficult aspects of our upbringing lead us to create meaningful work and connect with others who can relate to us—@2shotsofmely’s poetry is a great example of how intergenerational trauma can produce beauty, connection, and personal growth when you honor yourself and your dreams. @2shotsofmely, you go, girl!