Style and cinema go hand in hand, whether they influence the more theatrical of styles — in the vein of a Halloween costume, for example — but can usually be seen in the mainstream. It happens all the time: People want to emulate the characters they so admire, and us gays have had to grasp a little harder than most, as the idols we’re offered come a little farther and fewer in between. Even 10 years ago, our visibility was sparse compared to that of “straight” films and queer movies were a concrete representation of who we were.
The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love, starring none other than Laurel Holloman as Randy Dean, was one of the first tastes I had of butch lesbians and their stereotypical love affair with flannel.
As a community we got a bad rap because of shirts like these, but seeing as how this particular flick came out (no pun intended) in 1995, it’s also a sign of the times. Evie’s dull wardrobe choices aside, we get a good look at the popularity of a loose T-shirt paired with a large vest (very kd Lang at that time, no?) and the pairing of a cut-off button-down with loose jeans and beloved, worn in T’s is something so very embraced by our very own, some still taking it to the now, almost 15 years later.
I don’t know about you, but at the ripe age of 14, my only knowledge of the existence of Riot Grrrls came from mix tapes that my friend Ryan Michelle made for me, featuring bands like L7, Bikini Kill, and of course, Ani DiFranco. I didn’t know who they were, but I knew that I wanted to be like them. Characters like Lucy, (played by none other than Leisha Hailey) in All Over Me were a total reflection of that scene.
Her pink hair, tiny tank-top and torn tights and jeans were the epitome of everything Riot Grrrl, and I would have fallen for her if I were Claude, too.
Claude’s the perfect insecure lesbian teenager in her over-sized clothing. Isn’t that code for awkward or code for “I don’t know what to do with this body and these attractions” as a gay youth? Either way, I’ll have a soft spot in my heart for girls with technicolor hair for the rest of my life.
It’s been mentioned before, but I pretty much lost and my mind when I saw Clea DuVall in But I’m a Cheerleader. It’s no secret that the gays love their themes, and in speaking in a wardrobe sense, this movie takes the cake. Jamie Babbit used the color scheme of her clothing to get across a bigger message: The brown tones all of the straight people donned to show their mediocrity, and the bright, plastic unnatural tones worn by the queer teenagers being forced into conversion represent how fake the idea really is.
The movie, and Clea specifically, could quite seriously be named “my root” and when Graham was out of uniform, she was the ultimate in my eyes. Button-downs with jeans and lesbians have become like peanut butter and jelly. Throw in a couple of chokers and some black boots and you pretty much have a prototype. I think that Graham’s fashion choices were totally reflective of 1999-2000 and I actually saw a couple of ladies at a gay club while visiting my sister in a small town this past weekend that still think Graham’s late ’90s look is a good idea, so take that as you will.
In the here and now, I think that my favorite influence as of late is Babbit’s second queer silver screen take-over in 2007’s Itty Bitty Titty Committee. Anna shows us that you can break free from your everyday and embrace your inner revolutionary and take on the world. Her love interest Sadie is the queen of cool, and every lesbian I know felt a little pull on their now more grown up heart strings at the come back of ripped fishnets.
Hipster lesbians around the globe rejoiced at seeing a true and current representation of themselves on the big screen with cool sneakers, ironic eye-glasses and rad haircuts. I developed a swift and solid crush on Meat (Deak Evgenikos). Give me a dyke in a kitschy T-shirt and well-fit jeans, I’m happy to watch and happy to wear whatever you’re showing me. It also brings out the political activist that is dying to break free.
Who are your influences, past or present?