I’m Ciara, a content creator and US Project Manager at TAKUMI. Being an influencer within the influencer marketing industry, and also a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I suppose you might say that I have a unique perspective to share. So, with Pride month officially here, I wanted to do just that.
The LGBTQ+ movement has been around since the mid 1960s and thanks to those movements/protests, one can be more open about their sexuality. With the power of social media, it is a crazy, complicated world that undoubtedly plays a massive part in the daily lives of billions of people globally. Now, the two in tandem are a dynamic duo that have played a positive role in acting as a comfortable place for members of the community to talk and be heard by the thousands and in some cases, millions.
As an androgynous presenting female, I found my home within social media back in 2016. I started my journey during the middle of my active duty tour in the United States Navy and, seeing as I wanted an outlet to create positive content around lifestyle and clothes, it was the perfect solution. I did not have any queer, masculine-presenting women of color to look up to, and I wanted to change that as quickly as possible. I knew that if I felt like this, there had to be other individuals that felt the same.
In starting The New Mixx, my wife Andraia helped empower me to be my true self and to find a style that I was comfortable in. It was a mighty big push, and once I realized how comfortable I was in my own skin, I felt unstoppable.
I wanted my content to not only be an outlet for myself, but to bring any form of inspiration for anyone looking to transform or empower themselves. I wear suits, streetwear, and the occasional simplistic outfit, but my clothes come from both the men’s and women’s section. It was definitely a trial and error process, finding the right size and knowing my measurements, but with due time it has come together. I create content like I do because I want people to know it is okay to shop wherever you want and to try different things.
Now, the power of social media has brought a plethora of positives to my content creation career, but also a few negatives. As the majority of my life is generally shared publicly and I’m an open book, I had to learn to essentially “turn off the switch” when it came to sharing. As a creator, it is a common misconception that our lives, involving friends and family, are free for all, but at the same time we are human too. Every day –it seems – I receive negative comments; from remarks on wearing ‘men’s attire’, to allegations that I’m confused about my sexuality. Some are light in tone and some take it over the edge, but with this, I know that what I’m doing, who I create content for, is for the better.
PRIDE AND RAINBOW WASHING
Through my experiences as a content creator, Pride is a time for tons of emails and calls for involvement to circulate around creators who are in the LGBTQ+ community, and it is, simply put – rainbow washing. Rainbow washing is a term that is defined as allowing “people, governments, and corporations that don’t do tangible work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June.” It can also happen at any given time.
I, and my fellow creators, have turned down opportunities to work with big companies as they only wanted to use our name and likeness for Pride month. This is something that I would like to see change and it needs to.
As someone who now carries the dual perspective, it is pivotal that we empower creators; not just during a given month of observance or awareness, but year round. I’m thankful to be in a position to help change this narrative.
We are all human and needless to say – words hurt. In the early stages of creating content, it hit me pretty hard, but with time I have learned to keep pushing. In the last five years, I have had content go viral and that always brings in new traffic and new eyes, but I have learned how to deal with it. I do what is called a social media detox, which is when I take however long I need off of all social media. This could be a day, a weekend, a week, and even months if I need to. I have learned that mental health matters and you always need to take care of yourself.
Two of the biggest outlets that help me are: journaling and the Headspace app.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE
My hope is for a global community in which everyone supports one another — where ‘love is love’ applies globally, not just in the small to large metropolitan pockets. I want individuals, young or old, across the world not to be afraid to come out and to know that there is a support system waiting for them when they do.
For the future, in the creative and marketing industry, I hope that brands continue to use social media and all the tools that come with it as an educational force. This can take many forms: learning pronouns, the history of Pride, and truly understanding what Pride means. There is a lot of negativity with social media, but there are also a lot of great things that come from it.
I would like to see the creative and influencer world continue to push boundaries where we see individuals that don't fit into the 'box' of what society might deem 'normal'
This could simply be someone like myself, who identifies as she/her, but wears suits that you would find in the ‘mens’ section, individuals of all sexual orientations modeling big clothing brands, advocating for issues, promoting products, repping household names … that is something I want more of.
As someone with experience on both sides of the playing field- as a creator within the marketing industry- I want to ensure that I help create that change.