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The morning of Boulder Pridefest, I accidentally locked myself out of my dorm room. So by the time I finally got to Central Park in downtown Boulder, I was running a little late and worried that I would miss the actual parade. But as soon as I turned the corner toward the park, I practically ran right into it. A line of people bearing signs and flags were walking together towards Pearl Street Mall, chanting, “Love does not discriminate,” and, “Out of the closets, into the streets.” It was a great start to my pride experience.
Earlier this summer, I went to Pride for the first time in my hometown of San Diego. I had still never been to Boulder Pride. I wasn’t sure what to expect. San Diego Pride was packed — the parade went on for three hours, and over 125,000 people were in attendance. Boulder PrideFest was much more relaxed. Featuring a brief parade, the main attractions were the booths that filled the park and 13th Street.
My least favorite thing about San Diego Pride was how corporatized it seemed. It made me happy to see how many community organizations had booths out in Boulder. I especially loved the booth my church shared with other LGBT-affirming churches in the area, though the one selling rainbow-striped socks was a close second. (Yes, I bought a pair.)
Walking around Pride, it was amazing to see how relaxed people seemed being themselves. Bright colors, face paint and pride flags were everywhere. Nobody appeared to be nervous about displaying who they were. It was heartwarming to see, and it made me think about how attire plays into the lives of LGBT people outside of events like Pride.
Clothing and accessories have been a way for LGBT people to identify themselves for a long time. At my high school, backpack pins, slogan T-shirts and rainbow-colored everything were worn by LGBT students (and allies) to celebrate their identities and beliefs, quietly or boldly. Even when one isn’t specifically trying to send a message, there are styles and fashion trends that are ubiquitous in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender circles. Like any other social group, attire is used as a form of identification for the LBGTQ community.
While clearly nobody’s sexual orientation can be guessed by their clothing, I think a large part of LGBT style is tied to feeling comfortable in your own skin. If you’ve reached a place where you’ve come to terms with your sexual orientation and don’t feel the need to hide it, the desire to conform to heteronormative fashion standards can fade away as well.
A few months ago, I came across this article. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Titled “My ‘Straight’ Clothes Don’t Fit Me Anymore,” author Katie Heaney writes in it that after she came out, she slowly started losing interest in dresses and feminine clothing, much to her own surprise. She assumed that since she was still the same person she always had been, nothing about her would change. As her fashion sense shifted, she realized that coming out had a bigger impact on her than she initially realized.
“While it has been confusing to grow disconnected from so much of the clothing I once loved, it is also exciting to imagine what might take its place,” Heaney writes. “You have to let go of former selves to make space for new ones.”
I can relate to the author’s sentiments, and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one. When I moved into CU, I packed as many clothes as I could fit into my suitcase. I was not expecting that this major change in my life would affect my sense of style. Once I got here, I realized that the clothes I had already started to lose interest in were even less interesting. My dresses hung unworn in the closet, and there was an entire box of earrings I barely looked at. Now, my Converse and button-down shirt are the items in heaviest rotation, things a younger Carina would’ve paid less attention to. But I’m not her anymore.
Whatever your sense of style is, I hope it springs from what makes you feel most comfortable in your own skin. For LGBT people, this process can take a little longer, but it’s still attainable. Rainbow socks might not be your thing, but if they make you feel happy, go for it.
Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Carina Julig at Carina.Julig@colorado.edu.