I think it’s very easy to conceive of the fashion industry as gay-friendly; after all, it’s filled with women and gay men. But therein lies the problem, really: that word gay. Gay cis men move through the world, especially the fashion world, with a lot of privilege—much more than any cis woman of color, much more than any gender-nonconforming individual or queer woman—to the point that they are often the gatekeepers and tastemakers for bodies that do not look like their own. It’s vital we recognize this point because it’s too easy for a list of LGBTQ+ designers and brands to be dominated by gay men, who already hold such large platforms in this industry. If you can easily think of open lesbian, bisexual female, and gender-nonconforming designers, that warms my heart. But I’d venture to assume many of you cannot, especially since I’m a queer woman working in the fashion industry, and it’s hard for me to think of more than the handful here!
To honestly write this article, it would be hard not to offend some people. But it’s also hard to ignore the fact that it’s really sad that there’s a need for such an article. I wish more marginalized identities were running businesses because, more often than not, these are the businesses that have the most emotional impact: They are usually the most size-inclusive, body-positive, gender-fluid, racially diverse, and eco-friendly—brands that take real stands for change and help those with marginalized identities feel represented and celebrated.