How Accepting Is The Beauty Industry Of Men From The LGBTQIA+ Community?

LGBTQIA+ Community (2)

Men from the LGBTQIA+ community have witnessed varying degrees of acceptance from established industries. The fashion and beauty industry has generally championed and showcased their craft without judgement. But other areas, like IT, Law, Finance or Defence, still lack spokespeople living out and proud. As a straight woman working in the beauty industry, I have enjoyed multiple collaborations with men from the community without bigotry coming in the way. But I always question things that seem too good to be true. Exactly how accepting is the beauty industry to men from the community? And how does the industry itself influence their craft? Plus, are there avenues that still lack proper representation and exposure? I spoke to some of the most talented men from the queer community engaged in the beauty industry, and here’s what they had to say.

1. Daniel Bauer, Makeup Artist & Educator

Daniel, who has given us multiple iconic Bollywood red carpet looks, says, “Coming out is a spectrum; it can take a very long time, from when you first come out to yourself to when you come out to the world. In my case, I took baby steps to feel safe, safe that I wasn’t going to be outed. What is interesting is that as a gay man, you eventually stop coming out, as what you once thought was vital to hide or shoot out from the rooftops is just another part of who I am. The most important person to come out to is yourself; nobody has the right to come out for you.” He admits that working in the fashion and entrainment industry, I am surrounded by exceptional people, many of whom don’t ‘fit in’ but don’t feel the need to fit in. “We influence each other and make work more meaningful. The creative industry has always embraced those who think they are on the fringes; it’s a welcome and safe space worldwide,” he adds.

2. Elton Steve Vessoaker, Hair and Makeup Artist and Educator

“To be honest, there was no coming out for me. You had to be blind and deaf if you couldn’t tell,” chuckles Elton. “From a very young age, I’ve been flamboyant, vocal about how I feel and have always lived my truth with my friends and family. So I guess everyone always knew,” he elaborates. An industry heavyweight whose perspective remains unparalleled, Elton reveals, “I’m blessed to have been working at a time when the industry, on the whole, embraced me. Of course, I’ve been in a few situations about a decade ago where a dark skin, overly feminine gay person like me was not the best choice as the face for a few brands that I worked with. Most importantly, I didn’t let those experiences change who I was. I just worked harder and harder.”

For Elton, there are still miles to go.
He says, “I’m so glad that it has now changed. I think the beauty space in India is doing a great job. Can we do better? Definitely, but that’s true for everyone and everything! I wish I saw more Indian artists featured internationally because here in India, we sure do feature many international artists,” he concludes.

3. Aditya Madiraju, Digital Creator

Aditya, who came out to his friends much earlier than he did to his family, the act felt like a weight had been lifted. “We don’t realise that not showing your true identity brings down a person’s confidence, and now I feel much more like myself,” he says. The beauty space is an extension of his craft, not the other way around. “For me, beauty is an outlet. I have a finance job, and makeup is a passion for me. I’ve been honing my craft for over ten years, long before the beauty industry existed online,” he reveals.

The industry has opened up access to makeup artists and brands, but for Aditya, it’s about carving out your niche. “I don’t have preconceived expectations from the industry; beauty is a passion for me, and for now, I want to keep it like that. I enjoy being part of the community and learning something new,” he admits.

However, Aditya is critical of the tokenism that often exists in the industry. “A few years ago, some brands did not want to work with creators from the LGBTQIA community. Now everyone wants to work with you in June. We see through the rainbow wash during June, so brands need to do better and accept us throughout the year,” he says.

4. Tejeshwar Sandhoo, Blogger

“I came out to my parents when I was 16; I figured it would be easier to just do it because I was always sure of my sexuality,” reveals Tejeshwar. The fashion, lifestyle and skincare blogger believes that through the overall grooming segment, the actual concept of ‘male beauty’ has really seen the acceptance that he thought it would. The beauty space directly influences his content as well. “I’ve definitely learnt how to take better care of myself. Suppose I’m making a video or even just recording a small story. In that case, I want to ensure I look refreshed, that my dark circles are well taken care of and that the overall vibe is nice and fresh. Which definitely means taking care of my skin daily so I can educate others about the same,” he admits.
Tejeshwar concludes by saying “Even though many men are navigating this space, there is still a long way to go. There are a lot of men who are from the LGBTQIA+ community who are not being given their due and are really the front runners in revolutionising the beauty industry for men. Not now, hopefully soon.”

5. Seventeen / Neelesh Mehrotra, Drag Artist

“I came out to my family and friends in 2019 at 22; I guess the choice between living a safe and authentic life was undeniable in my case,” says Neelesh. “I believe it to be a part of my artistic journey but not entirely. It has definitely helped me broaden my perspective as an artist. The beauty industry is very supportive of any individual’s existence and not just mine, without bringing in brackets like gender and sexual identity or what we had an idea about visible beauty- those preconceived notions have been shattered for good,” he elaborates. “Being my queer self, pursuing what I absolutely love doing while inspiring the next generation to live out loud, proud and maybe pursue drag, has given me a sense of belonging and a purpose in this world,” he concludes.

Photos: Instragram

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