I was talking to a marketing person at a fashion event this past week about Quiet Deviants, and he reiterated something I’ve heard over and over again as I’ve done more research on building a brand and marketing. He touched on the fact that people buy from people and stories, not necessarily just products. His point has reinforced something that I’ve begun to become a lot more self-aware of in the past few weeks—the need for me to be vulnerable and share more of myself as the integral part of QD.
As a whole, I think it’s safe to say that queer people develop habits early on in the practice of self-preservation and avoidance. I know this is absolutely true for me, and it’s recently become a lot more obvious that I have a lot of what I’ll call personal unraveling work to do. As I unravel, I often question whether it’s truly important that I tell my story. Who cares? But as I read other stories, or see articles about the LGBTQ community as a whole, what strikes me over and over again is how few truly specific, individual stories there are—it’s still a marvel to see simple things like elder queer people, especially transgender elders who are living and thriving. The same goes for things like happy and healthy marriages; the engagement announcement of Roxane Gay and Debbie Millman was met with literally thousands of comments from extraordinarily excited, even grateful people (myself included).
So if I want to see more representation of queer entrepreneurs, and in particular different types of fashion entrepreneurs, then I need to realize that being vulnerable will allow me to be a part of that change and lead by example. In addition, I feel I’m also responsible for bringing others up with me and helping them to share their story.
In some ways this is frustrating and intimidating. It can feel like a burden, or as self-indulgent when there are also parallel narratives about how the increase in queer content is somehow shoving it down others’ throats. But it’s also true that as more queer people step up to fill in our narrative on our own, we are also able to take control and tell our stories the way we want to. Ultimately, we can set the tone of our narrative rather than crossing our fingers and relying on others to hopefully tell our story the way we want it to be told.