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.

Figuring out what you’re about is hard enough as is, without throwing in the additional complication of looking really good while doing so. The influencers listed in Gaysi’s two-part gender fluid (both in style and identity) fashion influencer series have managed to do just that. Read on to learn more about these chic queer personalities who’ll have you rethinking everything you thought you knew about what fashion is and who it’s really for.

Akanksha Singh, 20 (they/them)

Pune born and raised, 2nd year Digital Marketing student, Akanksha Singh, is a fashion influencer who operates from a  confidence within. Inspired by their artist and author idol Chella Man, Singh attempts to use their interaction with clothes to help navigate and present their identity in an equally effortless way. While Singh describes their style as “laidback”, “cool” is also a word that easily comes to mind.

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

Confident. Recently, I’ve been a big fan of monochrome outfits; there’s something so satisfying about having different shades of the same colour transform into a banger outfit. 

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

My personal ideology for a good look is all about how confident I look and feel in it. A ‘confident’ look for me is a perfect blend of style, colour and fit. If an outfit checks all these boxes, it instantly translates to a good look.

Who/what are your inspirations?

Chella Man: he not only taught me about art, queerness, disabilities and healing, but also gave me hope for a world where people like me could exist with pride. He is such a well-rounded individual in a society where he is conditioned to fail and is truly a service to queer people everywhere.

Priyam Yonzon: they are an Instagram Influencer that knows how to play with clothing. I’m completely in awe of really everything they do.

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

It actually makes me really happy. I hope I can create a sense of community amongst my followers and also strive towards fashion that is less focused on binaries.

There’s always been debate about how we’ve come to understand androgynous fashion as mostly shapeless or masculine silhouettes, and not at least partly feminine. What’s your take on that and do you feel like you steer more one than the other? Why?

Defining androgynous fashion as either ‘masculine or feminine’ takes away from the entire meaning of the word. Androgyny itself is “the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics into an ambiguous form,” so characterising androgynous fashion within the binary isn’t fair, when androgyny is about what’s beyond the binary. I don’t believe in labelling my outfits as more masc or femme as an item of clothing doesn’t have to be inherently masculine or feminine. My outfits are exactly what they are; outfits. However, I don’t speak for the entire community and these are just my views and beliefs.

Freebie last words:

If you’re questioning your identity, understand that coming to a conclusive answer takes some time. Don’t beat yourself up over labels and certainly don’t mould yourself to fit in with society’s expectation of you. You’re valid just the way you are. Continue existing and everything else will fall into place, I promise.

Shersingh Sonam, 20 (he/they)

A Libra that dons many hats as a fashion stylist, art director, makeup artist and photographer, Mumbai’s very own Shersingh Sonam is all about spreading the love in the loudest way possible. With a street-side glamour to die for, the stunning Sonam is all about loving that extra bit of “yum, yum” and flaunting it like it’s nobody’s business.

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

My fashion sense is comfortable, but extra and loud. It’s inspired by New York streets and hip hop. My vibe is hippie soft cute Libra cunt, but sweet.

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

I like baggy shirts, baggy pants and a cute small bag – that’s my everyday look. If I’m going out, I like wearing feminine, sexy clothes in which I look stunning. I use fashion to express my personality and I love dressing up and making looks – that’s why I’m a fashion stylist, like duh.

Who/what are your inspirations?

Lizzo, Koleen Diaz, Rihanna and myself. I love using my own mind because it inspires me to do creative things.

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

I’m really proud that people see me as a queer influencer because that means I’m spreading love and colours, and educating people about [the] lgbtq [community], toxic masculinity and other topics. Mostly, I’m showing people to accept themselves and just shine.

You describe yourself as “juicy” in some of your posts. Do you put a lot of emphasis on being out there as a plus-size fashion influencer or is this one of those things that’s not meant to be intentional?

I’m more on [the] chubby side and I love my body. I love to flaunt my body because I’m so comfortable in my own size, that seeing others being like “I can’t wear it because it won’t look nice” breaks my heart. Everyone looks good in everything if they carry it [off] in [the] right way.

Freebie last words:

Be you and who you wanna be, others will adjust. Don’t forget to be [unapologetically] you, and just spread love and kindness and look cute and stunning while doing [so].

Joan Dominic Rai, 28 (he/him)

Immersed in the fashion world himself, Joan Dominic Rai is “exquisite” in human form. Hailing from Darjeeling but based in Kolkata for his work as a full-time senior designer at a major fashion house, Rai sees fashion as art and comfort first. Fitting, since it shows in his extremely editorial and experimental looks. Gender fluidity is at the core of Rai’s approach to fashion and, like he says, if he wants to wear a skirt with a biker leather jacket, then he’ll wear it without thinking twice about it – and he’d look great in it too.

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

Androgynous and genderfluid. I experiment with fashion as more [of an] art, allowing what I [wear] to express what I [am] feeling on the inside. Androgyny definitely [has] an effect on the things that [make] me feel comfortable. In the simplest of words, fashion gives me the ability to wear whatever I wish to, irrespective of what gender the piece of clothing is supposed to be worn by. I am somebody who purchases clothing [depending] on what fits or suits me best. Gender fluidity in fashion gives me the ability to become who I want to become, without having to put myself inside a box.

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

Fashion for me [has] always been very personal; it’s something that I [feel], as a medium, [allows me to] communicate better. It’s much more than just putting together looks and posting a picture; it’s also about what I want to narrate through the images that I am posting. My blog [has] never been about preaching to people to wear this, eat this [or] wear that; it’s about telling my stories, my struggles and my personal experiences through fashion and photography. There is a lot of thought  and personal experience that I put in, to curate my work. For me, it’s all about telling a story – even if one person can understand and relate to it, that’s enough for me.

Who/what are your inspirations?

David Bowie, Micheal Jackson, Lady Gaga, RuPaul, Rihanna and many more. Growing up, I was always inspired by music, art, punk culture but I found my voice through fashion. For me everything and everybody that surrounds me, I find my inspiration in. I have [also] always admired Iris Apfel for her seamless, mismatched aesthetic.

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

My blog has never been about being famous or having a lot of followers. Whatever I post there, comes from the truest of my heart and beliefs. I am somebody who doesn’t speak much in general and through images, I try to tell my stories. It has been an absolute pleasure to have received so much love and appreciation from people of the community and beyond. I believe in spreading love through my form of art and I will always continue to do so in the purest form.

You’ve said in previous interviews that you embody both sexes as a person, and that really shows in your editorial and genderfluid looks. How do you know exactly which elements will work with what?

I don’t just dress up in a skirt for the camera, you will literally see me walking in the street wearing that. I do not wear it to make a point or be cool; it’s just what I believe in and who I am as a person. I believe in transcending the boundaries that have been placed around one’s body. Everything that’s put out there is true to who I am and that’s what makes it real and relatable to a lot of us .

I can see changes are happening [with queer representation], for the good of the community and for us. When I started [out], there were not many people who represented the community in various fields, and I believe that was one of the reasons I started the blog. Because, I always knew I was different in [the] way I would wear my clothes or my characteristics, so I was always looking for someone around me who I could look up to on [for who] I wanted to become.There were not many people, rather no one in my country I could take inspiration from, around that time.

You’ve worked with some big brands and right now androgyny and gender fluidity is all the rage in fashion. Has that been limiting or actually liberating, given they also have their own guidelines for what works and what doesn’t?

It’s never been limiting in a way; whenever I take up a project or I’m a part of a brand, their representatives have always trusted in what I do and have given me the opportunity to curate what I would think is best. But, androgyny and gender fluidity is the core of my identity and nothing liberates me more than being represented in any kind of project as my true self. I feel there are a lot of brands who try to capitalise [on] the idea of gender fluidity and being inclusive, where they have no belief [in] or understanding of the community. I try [to] do as much research as I can before taking on any project – understanding the DNA of the brand and their beliefs and understandings. As an artist/representative who is a part of the community, I feel I have a responsibility to narrate my story in the truest form, and it is always important for me to work and collaborate with people/brands who truly understand and respect me for who I am, what my beliefs are and where I come from.

Freebie last words:

We have risen beyond our existence of anonymity as queer individuals and it took a lot of struggle, resilience and fight amongst ourselves and [in] the world to reach where we are today. I take a lot of pride in being a part of this community and in being and existing as I am. I wish for all of us to stand together, love each other and always show love and resilience in whatever we are doing, and always fight for our equality and what is right. Always love and respect yourself for who you are. For me, pride is not just about a month – it’s about celebrating everyday for who we are.

Maitrayanee Mahanta, 25 (she/they)

Between studying for exams and working as a freelance content writer, Maitrayanee Mahanta graces our Instagram feeds with the chillest and easily accessible looks on the block. Mahanta, born and based in Guwahati, is not alone in this endeavour – a huge part of their page, style and life is her partner, Neeta. Needless to say, whether solo or in a sweet couple pic, Mahanta’s always delivering a vibe.

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

Whatever I’m wearing should make me feel good. Clothes, in my opinion, are not gender specific. In addition, I believe my style is incredibly relatable because anyone can pull off my looks.

What is your personal approach to fashion and curating looks?

Minimalism appeals to me. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of maximalism in my life.

Who/what are your inspirations?

My partner. She is, I’d say, my sole source of inspiration and the one who has taught me everything I know now.

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

The majority of my significance stems from the clothes I wear. Many people have chastised me for dressing up the way I do, throughout the years. But I believe it has evolved into a fashion statement for me, and from where I am now, it allows me to display it with “pride” and “honour”.

You recently did a photoshoot for a bridal wear brand with your partner who features a lot on your Instagram, as you hers. Would you say that being visible (and being visible with the style you have) is tied to your queerness, or separate from it?

I believe I concentrate on both my queerness and my separation from it. Being visible is extremely essential to me.

Freebie last words:

Everyone has their own taste in fashion. I’d simply advise that you keep experimenting and wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and happy.

Part 2

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.