Pride month is a beautiful time when we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community for who they are. However, limiting a movement like this to just one month is another plain reminder that acceptance is far from integrated in the industry today. It is important to keep the conversation alive for more than just 30 days of the year. As such, we had a chat with Allure featured makeup artist and Lady Gaga enthusiast- Hayley Elizabeth. She talks about how she celebrates pride month and her thoughts and hopes for the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community, beyond just June.
What does Pride mean to you and how do you celebrate it?
Pride means a lot of different things to me. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come, what the previous generations of LGBTQ communities have had to do for the present community’s rights and a reminder of how far we still have to go. Dating back to The Stonewall Riots, which was the first pride movement in the fight for LGBTQ rights.
I love pride month, there’s something different in the air all month. The pride posters and advertisements throughout the city, the special pride events all month, etc. Pride is everywhere you look. During the year I generally enjoy spending my nights out in LGBTQ+ friendly spaces, but I definitely like to go extra hard during pride.
My partner and I typically enjoy frequenting specifically queer-friendly spaces throughout the year, restaurants, clubs, etc. You go where you feel most welcomed and safe of course, and unfortunately, those spaces are limited as members of the LGBTQ community. So in a way, pride is celebrated all year around.
So to make a long answer short- Pride to me means a lot of things, regarding our history, our rights, our future, the space we take up as a community of marginalized people. I celebrate it by partaking in every event I can, getting involved with my local LGBTQ+ communities, connecting with my queer friends, taking up space as a queer woman, holding my partner’s hand in public, and enjoying every moment in between.
In your opinion, how can companies ensure they’re not tokenizing the LGBTQ+ community?
This is incredibly important, as often it feels like companies generally just try to just capitalize on the LGBTQ+ community for pride month- and then ignore us for the rest of the year. It can feel tacky and like a cash grab, and generally insincere. But, the way around this is to just include the LGBTQ community in the general branding, just as we do with cisgender, heterosexual people, and couples. Without the focus being excessively on the queer inclusion, but just including us in the imagery and conversation. The first step should be creating safer spaces within these companies and advertisements, making sure that all year around feels inclusive and safe to the LGBTQ community. Then once pride comes around, it feels like a celebration of the community, and not like a once-a-year cash grab.
How have you evolved and accepted yourself throughout your journey as a person in the LGBTQ+ community and what advice would you have for those who are still learning?
It’s definitely been a long journey to get to where I am now, in terms of self-acceptance. I started realizing I wasn’t straight when I was around 14 years old, genuinely internalizing my feelings and realizing what these feelings meant (of course looking back, there were lots of moments that make sense now- i.e. I watched Stick It way more times than necessary, and I know I’m not the only one!).
Of course, my story is like many others, I caught feelings for my best friend, who was a girl. In my case though, she was also queer and ended up being my first girlfriend a few years later. But the beginning of this journey was scary, to say the least. I didn’t know what it meant in terms of my future, in terms of my safety, what my family and friends would think of me. It felt like a dirty secret, it kept me up at night. But I started to watch tv shows and movies that included queer people, allowing myself to see characters I could relate to and feel represented by. I, of course, watched lots of Degrassi and The L Word throughout high school, I followed LGBTQ creators online, I slowly broke down my fears of myself by surrounding myself with positivity towards the LGBTQ community. I slowly became more comfortable with myself, and it was largely thanks to finding representation that made me feel included, and eventually getting to experience queer-friendly spaces in my city.
So, the advice I would give to someone still learning to accept themselves would be to find positive representation, try to involve yourself with an LGBTQ community, whether that be your school’s GSA, or going to your city’s queer village, and find allowing yourself to find comfort in these spaces and groups of people, find a friend group of friends that make you feel loved and accepted. The world has a long way to go in terms of accepting the LGBTQ+ community, but you are loved and wonderful just as you are, and it gets better.
What has your relationship with the beauty industry been like and how do you think we can improve it?
I have been following along with the online beauty community/scene since I was very young, and for me, it was beneficial and inspiring for the most part. Learning about self-expression through beauty and makeup was incredibly empowering for me. As a confused queer, disabled kid dealing with bullying in school, I didn’t know how to express myself or how to feel good in my skin until being introduced to the power of makeup. Of course, it was bittersweet because it was so early in the scene that I couldn’t necessarily relate on a deeper level to the artists I was following. There were no out queer women, no one with visible disabilities, or talking about the issues I was dealing with. But now, 10 years later, there is a whole community of every kind of person. Along with that, I learned the courage to put myself out there, so hopefully, another unsure queer kid or bullied disabled kid can have someone to relate to. I think a big way to improve the beauty industry is just introducing more diversity. Being able to see yourself in a community, on a pedestal, in an advertisement, on tv- it’s important.
What is your advice for someone looking to be an ally?
Truthfully, it’s easy to be an ally. Make sure to be consciously eliminating homophobic and transphobic language from your daily vocabulary, allow for an open and honest conversation with your loved ones, make it clear that it’s safe for them to be themselves and speak openly around you. Essentially- be kind to those around you. The fact that homophobic and transphobic slurs are still carelessly thrown around blows my mind, and they’re so easy to eliminate. Call out the people around you for using homophobic and transphobic language, make the spaces you’re in safe for everyone involved- even if the people in your circles haven’t come out as LGBTQ+, your language and attitude towards it could make them feel unsafe to do so. You could even take an extra step and study up on some queer history, educating yourself on the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community. Being informed and being kind are excellent steps to being the best ally you can be.