ROYGBIV – An “Out and Proud” Editorial

ROYGBIV stands for each color of the rainbow. The various colors
are used in the pride flag which represents the LGBTQIA+ community
and that sexuality can be viewed as a spectrum. 

It may seem as though there has been a recent increase in LGBTQIA+ people, but in reality there has just been an increase in queer individuals who are out and proud. Queerness has existed forever, but it has been stifled under the heteronormative perspective of mainstream society.

Everyone needs to see representation of who they are and what they can be. It is important for us all to recognize that queerness exists, it is valid, and it is beautiful. This is an editorial celebrating queer perspectives, creativity, and people. We interviewed and photographed four creatives whose gender identity and sexuality are integral parts of their lives. We learned about their struggles, strengths, and sources of joy as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Each person is unique with a style and experience all their own. We hope you find a story you can connect to, learn from, or look up to.

I just want people to just be okay with being themselves…”

Pronouns: She/her/hers; “Me/I”

Sexual Orientation: “I like women”

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Recommended LGBTQIA+ Event: Pride (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and
Outfest (Los Angeles, California)

Growing up in South Philly, Monet had a pretty “chill” upbringing. However, as she found out more about her sexual orientation, going to church every Sunday with her Christian family wasn’t the best experience. Ultimately, she ended up running away, “…but it wasn’t really because I was gay… it was because I wanted to  live my own life unapologetic[ally].” Monet never felt like she had to officially come out. She said people just assumed she was gay because of the way she dressed and since she never had a boyfriend. Right now, she lives her best life and works as a model. Monet also explores other ventures like making and selling buttons, hoodies, and shirts. She’s most comfortable when working on something creative, like dancing, writing on her blog called The antisocial socialite, or penning some poetry to help her express how she feels. When discussing her love life, Monet admitted that she often feels awkward going on dates due to some people’s stares. Monet stated that it kind of makes her feel like a “spectacle or something.” In regards to owning one’s sexuality, she stated that “I just want people to just be okay with being themselves...”

“The only way to truly be happy is to be happy with yourself first.”

Pronouns: He/him/his

Sexual Orientation: Homosexual

Hometown: Philadephia, Pennsylvania

Recommended LGBTQIA+ Spot: Gamerboi (Los Angeles, CA)

Mikey currently resides in New York but he moved between Pennsylvania and New York while being raised, “Growing up for me was very different, I was often scared of expressing myself in any way.” Sometimes, when he’s in Philly, he finds himself “dulling down” his expression of himself as a way to stay safe. Mikey used to dance as a hobby; these days, he models and dabbles in designing clothing. He plans on pursuing fashion design after graduating from Textile Development and Marketing from FIT. There are times when, due to his androgynous sense of style and long hair, Mikey finds himself subjected to stares and harsh comments. Recently, he has found comfort when in California because “people out there don’t really care about your appearance or they appreciate self expression more. It’s quite freeing and reassuring.” He’s always working toward becoming an even stronger, more confident version of himself, “I feel like most people don’t express themselves… it really affects, not only the [LGBTQIA+] community, but everyone else outside it as well. The only way to truly be happy, is to be happy with yourself first.”

“The [LGBTQIA+] community is too large for it to not to be something that’s seen all over the world.”      

Pronouns: He/him/his

Sexual Orientation: Homosexual

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana

Recommended LGBTQIA+ Spot: Lips (Manhattan, New York)

As a proud New Orleans native, Gerrell remembers being popular before coming out, and although he still is, he feels as though not as many people support him as they did when he was “D.L.”* When he first came out to his mother at a young age, it was difficult because she thought that he was “confused” about the way he felt about boys. “There’s nothing worse than having someone you love and hold so close to your heart not understand you or make you feel like an outcast.” His family has now begun to understand him and respects who he is. These days, Gerrell is comfortable being himself, especially because he does not have to act like someone he isn’t. Part of owning who he is includes following his passions. He recently did this by moving to the East Coast to further his modeling career. Gerrell noted that his newfound comfort in himself may be limited to certain regions. “In other countries, people aren’t as happy about it as [they are] in the U.S.I’m afraid to go to those places just because I’m under the impression that if me and my boyfriend are holding hands, or if he’s too close to me… will we go to jail? The [LGBTQIA+] community is too large for it to not to be something that’s seen all over the world.” Gerrell wants to see more people accept the existence of the LGBTQIA+ community, the world is changing, and it would great if people outside the community could have an open mind and accept the change too.

*“Down-low” (Not open about one’s sexuality)

“…my expression of who I am wasn’t really allowed to be released.”

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Sexual orientation: Queer

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Recommended LGBTQIA+ Spots: The Woods on Wednesdays, Peggy Parties at The Rosement, PAT at Union Pool, Hot Rabbit and Bad Habit parties, and Cubbyhole (Brooklyn/Manhattan, New York)

Layla comes from a Satmar Hasidic, Jewish Orthodox background. After leaving the Satmar Hasidic community, Layla continued to stay in a Jewish environment, where “queer culture was unknown, but people at least knew what LGBT was.” She felt she had to repress her sexuality but eventually came out at 19-years-old. Layla is currently studying Home Products Development and Marketing at FIT, with a minor in Film and Media studies. She also works as a freelance graphic designer and art director. When reflecting on her upbringing, Layla admitted that it was challenging at times, “It was definitely very restricting, my parents especially, and my family tried everything they could to keep us insular– sort of protecting us from the outside world. While I had a really nice, close family, and I was really happy there in a way, [but my] my expression of who I am wasn’t really allowed to be released.” Now, she feels most comfortable with her friends who she calls her “fam.” Layla looks forward to a brighter future someday for her own children, so that they can be free to express themselves.

Producer Jewelle Trotman

Creative Directors Lakshmi Bisram & Melissa DeOliveira

Photographer Lexie Coulum

Makeup Artists Jazmin Thomas & Aniyah Smith

Hair Stylist Jazmin Thomas

Models Monet Allen-Kemp, Gerrell Hankton, Layla Feder, Mikey Vargas

Production Assistants Elena Eshleman & Kayla Nicholson-Buckham

Special Thanks to

OUR STORY

4 Comments
  1. Love this so much, it gave a variety of different perspectives of LGBTQIA community. Great job on the photography and the writing!! Also learned few new spots that should be visited 🙂

  2. Loved this! Such a good read! The photography and writing are both incredibly captivating. My heart goes out to the individuals who faced these struggles and have fears that it may continue; but their strength to live freely and express themselves freely (as they should); it is so inspirational.