I awoke in a 6 person mixed gender hostel dorm in Hongdae, Seoul. A dim light made its way through the flimsy curtain and cast a solitary beam into the room. My plan was to wear my favorite dress during my first day in Seoul; I was going to explore royal palaces and an old village. Unlike Tokyo, where I still had a month and a half to explore the city, I was on a really tight schedule in Seoul.
I've been lucky to build a queer community in Tokyo. However, as I was getting dressed that morning under the pale light I was suddenly shaken by the overwhelming heterosexuality of my environment. I was unsure if I would have to spend the rest of my time in Seoul talking to people about the complexity of gender- justifying my humanity.
The dress I wore on my first day, above, is from Eastern Market in DC. You saw it briefly when I was Bernal Heights in San Francisco. I couldn't wait to bust this dress out while I was in Seoul. I thought the pattern and fit who look so well against the strong forms of Korean architecture. When I first saw it among the racks the pattern drew me in. Then I noticed the skirts unique asymmetrical hem and I was sold. My lip is in one of my favorite shades <3 of Stone by Coloured Raine.
Despite the fact that the LGBTQ community has its own internal issues: racism, misogyny, erasure of trans people, white washing history, homonationalism, etc. ; I still feel comfortable in spaces marked as gay or queer. In that moment while I stood in that dorm debating over whether to put on my dress or my jeans I decided to not be guided by fear. Navigating my personal safety in a culture of travel where the default is cis-heterosexual and white will be difficult but I refused to hide. I decided to shine as brightly as ever. My philosophy is that by showing who you really are you will attract the people who are meant to be in your life and repel the ones who don't.
I continued to rock my bright lipsticks and in this look, taken in a flower garden at one of the smaller Royal Palaces of Seoul, I'm wearing my favorite skirt- the Kaya from Eloquii. This skirt is so versatile I can dress it up with a shirt that has buttons or in this instance I dressed it down with a really cute t-shirt I got from Uniqlo. Uniqlo has a collection of graphic art prints that I have been purchasing every summer. I turned the shirt into a crop myself and I think the resulting silhouette is amazing. My lip is again from Coloured Raine and it's a gorgeous shade of purple called Kiss Me.
Despite grounded in the daily reality of the murder of trans and gender queer femmes I had no need to be worried. The people I encountered during my stay in Seoul were from all around the world and really cool. I'm hoping this kind of response is what I get throughout the rest of my travels. Which is to say that the bar is set really low. Living my life the only way I know how hopefully opens up the minds of the people I meet to the complexity of gender. Not just so they treat other trans and gnc people with respect but so they can begin to unlearn what they have been taught.
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