Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
From the effeminate Macarconis of the 18th century to the “future is female” shirts of 2017, the fashioned body has conveyed desire, signaled safety, and helped build affinity for queer people. This project will take the shape of a deep excavation and careful consideration of the historical precedence of queers encoding the nuances of dress with a multitude of identity affirming and identity challenging practices. Predominant research on unearthing how queer culture was (and is) expressed through dress had focused on the discernible gestures of normative gay male bodies; from ‘flagging’ (i.e. adorning the body with objects such as keys or handkerchiefs to denote sexual preference) to the rich traditions of cross dressing (i.e. drag). What does it look like to develop a new genealogy of queer visibility and invisibility in fashion? What discursive practices, nuanced modes, and slight twists does dress endure in the hands of queers? Furthermore, this research will examine the way that queer diasporas have played into the matrix of mapping identities that live outside of culturally conditioned notions of home, disrupting ideas of ‘local’ and their concurrent visual signifiers. Like taking a walk with Jose Esteban Munoz and Lauren Berlant, this work will meander down a discursive path, seeking meaning and finding solace in the illegible, from the simple adornment of a jean jacket patch to a perfectly positioned baseball cap.