Dina, age 5
Olympia, WA (1988)
What makes a person look gay? What makes a person look straight?
My grandmother made me this beautiful pink dress. I freaking loved that dress, insisting on wearing it whenever there was a formal event.
When I grew older, it became apparent I was different than other girls, but I couldn’t figure out exactly why. Somehow it got channeled into me wanting to dress and act less feminine.
I rarely wore a skirt or dress during middle and high school, and I never wore makeup 0 except at my synchronized swim meets, where I had no choice.
But that wasn’t authentic to me, either. It took me years to realize that what made me different was my attraction to other girls. Once I came to terms with that part of my identity in college, I started re-embracing my feminine side.
I started wearing makeup occasionally and wearing skirts to class. In a way, that was more freeing than my experiments with masculinity in middle school.
Today, I am still a study in contradictions. I’ll wear a pretty sundress and ballet flats one day, jeans and a t-shirt the next. I like video games as much as I like fashion. I feel like this is my true self, a true self I was not able to fully express until I got rid of the baggage of being a queer adolescent.
I hope if any queer kids see this, they'll understand they can be queer in their own way, which doesn’t mean denying the more "mainstream" parts of themselves!