Meet The Influencers Living Life Stylishly Outside The Binary (A Two-Part Gaysi Series)

The influencers listed in Gaysi’s two-part gender fluid (both in style and identity) fashion influencer series have managed to do just that.

Part 1

Aman Pal, 21 (he/him)

Aman Pal creates his looks from a place of power – a place of not letting anyone tell him how to be him. The professional model and aspiring actor from Kolkata lets his clothes speak for his comfortability with himself, and lets his love for aesthetics do the rest. Nothing holds back Pal, whose highly editorial and artistic looks takes inspiration from current and past fashions.

How would you describe your vibe/style/fashion sense?

All things aesthetic. My style usually varies from Parisian to tropical and Japanese street fashion.

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

My personal approach has always been to invest in statement pieces. I also love overlaying clothes and I’ve recently ventured into buying sustainable/eco friendly clothes, hence thrifting vintage items has been my number one priority.

Who/what are your inspirations?

David Bowie, Ezra Miller, Alexander McQueen & Karl Lagerfeld. I draw inspiration from cinema, music, nature and artists that inspire me.
 
What is the significance of being named a “queer influencer” to you?

To be named a queer influencer signifies that I get to represent my community. I get to express my suffering and pain through my art and also [free myself from the] norms and prejudices held against people like us. I want to inspire the people from my community to be comfortable in their own skin.

Nature and the outdoors seem to feature a lot as backdrops and props for your very sophisticated looks – is there a significance to that?

I love to be out and about in nature. I’m part of Mother Nature, but I’m sometimes treated as an alien because of my sexuality (some people adhere to the notion that homosexuality is unnatural). I like to use nature in my art because I want to prove a point that we’re not freaks of nature.

Freebie last words:

I just want people to not let others define their worth and be authentic to themselves. I have been a victim of severe bullying during my school days and that really disrupted my mental peace. I would really encourage [you all] to speak up against bullies and also to not let them belittle you. Through my art, I really want to convey that clothes have no gender. Over the years, I have come to love myself and I really want to uplift my brothers and sisters who have been oppressed and bullied for being different. Yes, we do exist and yes, we need to make our voices heard.

Yuvraj Acharya, 17 (genderfluid)

Coming in hot and into their own is Delhi born-and-based student, Yuvraj Acharya. Having recently come to the conclusion that they no longer need to dress within the confines of the binary, Acharya’s looks and content are a big “F U!” to all the ways in which we restrict ourselves in fashion. A big fan of traditionally feminine pieces as a medium to express their gender fluidity, Acharya is “degendering fashion” one cute outfit at a time.

How would you describe your vibe/style/fashion sense?

My style is all about androgyny, breaking the gender norms or degendering fashion, and just celebrating my individuality authentically with a touch of being extra.

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

[Fashion] is something that gives me joy. The only thing that has changed is that, before, I had to dress like a “man”, as they say, to fit [with]in the binaries of masculinity. But later, when I gradually started experimenting with “feminine” clothes, I found myself. I found what I am and what my style is. I have never been happier. I use my fashion to channel my gender fluidity or [androgynous] style and just to feel myself to the fullest.

Who/what are your inspirations?

Strong queer people and women are my inspiration, but I inspire myself too. I am my inspiration.

What is the significance of being named a “queer influencer” to you?

Being known as a “queer influencer ” in the fashion space feels so strong. It reminds me [of] how strong I have become. When other kids and people slide into my dms and let me know that [me] and [my] work has inspired [them] and it has helped [them] accept [themself], trust me it’s the best feeling!

Your bio includes the term “#degenderfashion” – how much does gender itself, and all of its restrictions and norms, play or not play a role in the way you curate looks?

As a boy, people always told me to be, look or behave like a “man”. Anytime I did or wore something “feminine” , I was taunted by others. Slurs and names were thrown at me. But, I chose not to let their words affect me. I celebrate my individuality authentically. I believe every human being can wear whatever speaks to their liberation. By #degenderfashion, we put out the idea that clothes and fashion are not caged only in gender binaries; it’s much more than that.

Freebie last words:

Our sexuality or gender does not define us. We are much more than that, much more to explore, experience, discover and celebrate. We are here and we are queer!

Neel Ranaut (he/him)

A star on the internet and also in his village town of Teliamura, Tripura, devil-may-care Neel Ranaut is an innovative force to be reckoned with. Discarding the name his parents gave him at birth and referring to himself after his favourite colour (neel) and favourite actress (Kangana Ranaut), Ranaut’s geographical location doesn’t stop him from harbouring a red-carpet vision he brings to life with everyday materials. Ranaut makes about 2 outfits a day, given the time and effort it takes to put these looks together, bringing fashion to Teliamura in a way he doesn’t see currently.

How would you describe your vibe/style/fashion sense?

I began by using whatever I could find around the house – my dad’s kachcha (underpants) or lungi or other things. Since Sandeep Khosla-ji started giving me compliments on Instagram and encouraging my work by liking my work or sharing it, I have felt more inspired with my designs. I’m very grateful for the motivation and opportunity given by him to me.

How do you approach fashion?

Ever since I did a show with Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla in Delhi, my family has been very supportive of me and my career. Before that they used to scold me a lot and the villagers used to say that I had no future at all, they would not even let their children mingle with me. But now, I don’t care about what others have to say about me or my designs. In this village, there’s no fashion scene to speak of. Everybody just thinks that going to college and getting a government job is the be-all and end-all. I want to inspire other people in the village who feel differently, like me, to follow their heart.

How do you decide what materials to use for your looks?

People sometimes criticize me saying that I destroy the flowers in my design. I want to point out to those people that flowers and other plant-based items are used in functions and ceremonies as well! Besides, the flowers that are blooming on the plants today will wilt and fall off their branches tomorrow. If I use them in my designs, then what’s the problem? How’s that destroying nature?

What is the significance of being named an “influencer” to you?

I don’t know if I’m a fashion influencer, but if people are feeling inspired by me then I’m happy to note that. I don’t purchase fancy materials with a lot of money or anything. I use things that I find around my house to design the outfits that I share. I don’t think I can be any sort of fashion guru or anything yet. I’m inspired by other people’s work, in fact.

How do you deal with the backlash, living in such a conservative place?

Since I was in school and college, I have faced a lot of bullying and name-calling. People say that I behave like the ladies. It’s probably the same people who now make fun of my designs and the videos/pictures that I post on social media. I have nothing to say about them.

Freebie last words:

I don’t get a lot of praise from the locals, but people from Mumbai and Delhi praise my work and that’s heartening. I have just one life and I don’t want to get caught up with the nay-sayers. I want to do exactly what my heart pleases.

Priyam Yonzon, 19 (they/them)

Priyam Yonzon brings all our Tumblr and Pinterest vision boards to life with their always-on-trend, but extremely personally curated fashion. A Delhi college student from Darjeeling, Yonzon’s fashion changes with their mood and we’re just all really lucky that that mood is at least constantly stylish!

How would you describe your vibe/style/fashion sense?

Unrestrictive. I never settle on one particular aesthetic; I love to play with different styles and I tend to constantly change it. Sometimes, I get fully glammed up and [other] times, I don’t do much. Basically, it depends on [my] mood [and] how I’m feeling about myself that day.

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

My personal approach towards curating looks is genuinely about how I feel about myself. I like to play around with clothes [and] dress up for myself, wear what I feel the best in – [it] doesn’t matter how extravagant or loud it is, or how simple. I look for lasting fashion more than constant new trends, which fade away [quickly]. I know keeping up with trends is essential, but once you know what look suits you best, you can make it blend with the trends.

Who/what are your inspirations?

Everyone I see around me: virtually [or] in reality, I try to  learn a lot through what I see.

What is the significance of being named a “queer influencer” to you?

“Queer influencer“ makes me feel good; I genuinely mean it! I feel celebrated, loved, appreciated, respected, and I realise that there people constantly looking out for me at all times – especially when you’re queer and being queer is considered “unhealthy” [by our extremely conservative society]. Sometimes, it is annoying and frustrating when people just pick on you solely for being queer, but I’m happy [with] how we’ve evolved, society too. I’ve experienced it changing over the past years and I hope it gets better.

Freebie last words:

It’s up to you, it’s your choice how you want to appear to your audience and how you want to fold in your identity!

Roshini Kumar, 28 (she/her)

Roshini Kumar – a Mumbai-based fashion photographer, visual artist, creative director, activist and entrepreneur – wants us to feel freedom in our fashion, and that’s exactly what her looks are inspired by. With a fashion sense inspired by everything that came before but a vision for a future where everyone can be whoever they want to be, Roshini brings drama, feistiness and a whole lot of POP to both her looks and her activism. 

How would you describe your vibe/style/fashion sense?

It’s vibrant, fun, no boundaries, no boxes, just a lot of FUN!

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

Fashion to me is self expression; it’s not trends, it’s not what seasons, it’s not celebrities, it’s about bringing out ME. My personality, my identity, my true self & that is an extra af bitch who doesn’t have any boundaries and fear to explore. It’s really colourful, quirky, and very retro because I basically still live in the 80’s and 90’s. Its been a tool for me to express my queer idenity as well as become free with my body. I don’t like wearing too many restricted clothes in the name of fashion; I used to, but I realised it only made me feel more uncomfortable. 

Who/what are your inspirations?

The 60’s to 2000’s: I get inspired more by eras than people, honestly. But now, I like getting inspired by myself and exploring where that takes me.

What is the significance of being named a “queer influencer” to you?

It’s lovely to see people naming me as a queer influencer. I take the tag of an influencer very seriously because my activism is what drives me to do more everyday, so it’s absolutely amazing to see me get this tag. I thank everyone who thinks soo!

Your looks stand out as casual, but with elements of drama. You’ve said you’ve recently started getting into drag – has that had an effect on your style or has your style had an effect on your drag? 

Candy, my drag persona, is just an extension of Rosh. She’s definitely more sassy and MORE extra. But, I think Candy is more free in terms of expression and what Rosh would love to be able to wear and do everyday but unfortunately can’t.

You talk to your followers through your posts and have roped in your family to fashion as well. It seems like your fashion isn’t just for you but also meant to be a collective experience.

I want people to realise fashion is more bringing out parts of you, your confidence, your identity than just following trends. So I like styling people in ways I see them and get them out of their comfort zone and SEE that they CAN wear whatever the fuck they want. There are no rules! It breaks my heart to see fashion being used as a tool for exclusivity, and also a tool to shame certain people and not use it as a means of liberation and freedom. Fashion currently puts unnecessary standards on people, and too many boxes that make people question themselves everyday. I’ve definitely been on the other side and it’s horrible. I hated myself because of what fashion was. I want to free people from that cage because there are truly no rules, you make your own and that’s it!

Freebie last words:

Always remember you are absolutely valid, your feelings are valid and you can make your own damn rules and live on your own terms; there are no boxes in reality. Everyone, absolutely everyone, deserves to live their truth, whatever that might be.

About the author

Sasha John

Sasha (she/her) is an editor at Gaysi. She’s a writer sometimes, and a reality dating show enthusiast who spends too much time on Twitter on most days. She is also a proud member of the beans-on-toast community. Sasha’s personal areas of interest are pop culture, politics (both pop culture and the serious kind) and self-help and exploration. You can find her work on Medium and Feminism in India.