Fashion and ‘fashioning’ remain crucial parts of gender expression and the performance of identity. Fashion’s potential to signify and convey identity in material form is comparable to the power of words to convey meaning in linguistic form. We all use this language of dress to signify our relationships to our gender identities, whether we do so consciously or otherwise, but what happens when the identities of some transgress the discursive boundaries of race, respectability, bionormativity, and cisheteronormativity? These five sources explore this question in depth, as they share the personal, historical, and contemporary narratives of Black queer gender expression and self-fashioning. From the binary-breaking lwas of Haitian Vodou, to the signature white tie, top hat, and tails of Harlem Renaissance performer Gladys Bentley, these moments form a broad constellation of subversive and genderful expressions that continue to expand, develop, and refine our collective understanding of Blackness, gender, and possibility.

 

Photograph of Willi Ninja

Chantal Regnault, Photographer. Photograph of Willi Ninja from Voguing: Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92.