LGBTQ+ owned brands made for masculine people

LGBTQ+ owned brands made for masculine people

For masculine individuals, having to shop in the "Men's" sections of stores can be uncomfortable. Finding masculine clothing that fits multiple body types can also be challenging. 

Not to mention, individuals having to select the "men's" option on a store's website can be extremely invalidating. 

Thankfully, there are LGBTQ+ owned brands out there who are challenging this by creating stores that cater to masculine people who don't want to shop in the "men's" sections of stores. 

1. HauteButch

"HauteButch is a Gender-Neutral, Masculine Inspired, Androgynous Clothing Shop. We are the go-to destination for butch and androgynous style seekers that prefer menswear-inspired finishes, without compromising proper fit." 

A queer and black-owned brand, HauteButch offers classic tees, tanks, button-downs, flannels, vests, custom suits & tuxedos, and various accessories.

HauteButch also offers virtual one-on-one 30-minute video fashion consultations for custom items. 

Tees and tanks range from $19 - $25 with prices going up from there for different clothing options. Size options vary by item but range from XS - 6XL.

www.hautebutch.com

2. Barb (Soft Clay Pomade)

"We founded Barb to give women and folks with short hair a home."

Barb pomade was born out of a need for a hair product that wasn't marketed specifically for men. 

The pomade is vegan & cruelty-free and offers a medium hold without stickiness or stiffness. It has a fresh, clean scent with notes of eucalyptus. Emily (co-owner of Wear it OUT) actually uses this pomade daily and highly recommends it.

Readers can use code WEARITOUT15 for 15% off!

www.thebarbshop.com

3. Peau De Loup

"Built for bodies, not gender." 

Peau De Loup's goal was to create functional, well-made, timeless apparel that is designed for all bodies regardless of gender identity. 

They offer casual clothing (tees, underwear, chinos, jeans, and Pjs), buttoned up (short sleeves, long sleeves, and outerwear), and dressed up (suiting, flannels, and elegant button ups), as well as accessories. 

Sizes vary depending on the item but range from (0-2) - (20-22). 

www.peaudeloup.com 

4. SHARC&RAE Swimwear 

"Gender-Defiant Swimwear and Activewear. For Every Body, keeping humans who are masculine-of-center and non-binary individuals at the forefront." 

A great thing about SHARC&RAE is that they offer both the swim trunks as well as the matching swim top. So often, people purchase swim trunks but find that there is no option for a matching swim top. 

SHARC&RAE combats this. 

We suggest shopping their Original Collection, which includes the Reese Trunks ($38) and matching Melin or Peyton swim top ($22 - $24). The Melin top offers more chest coverage and sizes range from XS - 4XL. 

www.sharcandrae.com

August 24, 2021 — Sammy Mermell
10 LGBTQ+ Musicians You Should Be Listening To

10 LGBTQ+ Musicians You Should Be Listening To

Being an avid TikToker *cringe*, I see videos all the time about how the Queer community (specifically, the sapphic community) just doesn't have a lot of representation in music. This couldn't be further from the truth! We do have a lot of representation in music, they're just not being played on mainstream radio (yet!). 

In this article, I've compiled a list of 10 LGBTQ+ musicians you should be listening to, along with their genre and noteworthy songs to check out. You can also find my Queer playlist on Spotify here

1. MUNA

All three members of MUNA identify as queer (BBC), with Naomi also being Non-Binary. Described as an electric pop band, they make "sad soft pop songs for sissies angry girls emo queers and crybabies," (according to their own tweet). 

Songs to check out: 

  • I know a place (a song created to symbolize safe spaces for queer individuals)
  • Number one fan
  • Taken
  • Around U
  • Bodies
  • Everything

 

 2. PVRIS

With iconic gay vocalist Lynn Gunn, PVRIS is a band from Massachusetts whose music has been described as blending dreamy electronica with dark, beat-heavy rock (ALLMUSIC). 

"Some days I feel more like a genderless elf than a woman. My body and my energy has always danced between masculine and feminine. What makes me feel sexy is steering neither female nor male, it is meeting in the middle somewhere." - Lynn Gunn

Songs to check out: (it's hard to choose just a few!). 

  • You & I
  • My House
  • Same Soul
  • Sacrificial (feat. PVRIS)
  • Mirrors
  • Anyone Else
  • Loveless
  • Half
  • January Rain

3. Siena Liggins

Siena Liggins is here to give the girls who like girls the music they're needing. Having just released a new album, I reached out to Siena who had this to say: 

"I write songs for me. I can’t spend time thinking about if the lyrics are too provocative or if the melody is too bubblegum and if those two concepts clash a little bit. I’m just making music that I’ve always wanted to hear— songs written for and about girls who like girls, but in the process it feels like I’m tapping into feelings that we all share.

There are no pop stars that look and sound like me. Look at Britney and Gaga and Ariana and Miley and Doja and Billie– then look at me. Copy-catting “the formula” isn’t exactly an option. There’s a part of this industry that I am missing out on because the machine that makes pop stars hasn’t had an upgrade since 1994.

In a world that seems to be catching on to the importance of representation, surely there are young, bold, off-center folks looking for themselves in the pop music space. Trust me, I know. I’m not just another queer artist; I’m not an amalgamation of trends & buzzwords, but all of the things that I am are easy to see through the lens of Ms. Out Tonight."

Songs to check out: 

  • Perfect
  • Wait On Me
  • The entire Ms. Out Tonight album! You can watch the visual album here: 

4. The Japanese House 

Amber Mary Bain (known professionally as The Japanese House), is an indie-pop musician from England. 

According to Newsweek, Amber opened up briefly on their sexuality: 

"...I don't really know what my sexuality is. But I know that I'm not a straight girl. I was wondering in my head if that is something I should be more vocal about. I don't really know. To me, my fans must know. They MUST know."

Amber also went on to explain that their favorite song on the album 'Good at Falling' is a song they wrote surrounding the death of a former girlfriend, Saw You In A Dream: "And then when I wrote that, it was like a big release for me. I didn't really know how to approach it. And then she was in my dreams. I just thought that was the perfect way to write about someone who's dead. That's why I felt that had to be on the album. I've just never written a song that's in my eyes, so perfect. And that song to me—I wouldn't change anything about it."

Songs to check out: 

  • Something has to change
  • Saw you in a dream
  • We talk all the time
  • You seemed so happy
  • Lilo

5. Pale Waves

If you're looking for some queer representation in the indie-rock/pop-punk genre, Pale Waves is it. Vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie has been named the "Queer emo queen" and had this to say on her sexuality: "Too many people think I’m straight and I’m like, really? Most are men. [I’m like,] I’m not straight; I ain’t going to get with you…. I’ve always been gay. When I came out of the womb I knew I was gay." (Vanity Fair)

Pale Waves also includes drummer, Ciara Doran, who is trans/nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. 

Songs to check out: 

  • She's my religion
  • Television Romance
  • Came in Close
  • Eighteen
  • SkinDeepSkyHighHeartWide

6. Arlo Parks 

 London-based musician Arlo Parks names Sylvia Plath and Joni Mitchell as some of her musical influences. she is openly bisexual and has been described by Gay Times as, "the cinematic storyteller for Generation Z." 

“There are so many people out there who don’t have a voice, or don’t feel able or safe enough to be open about who they are. Artists have a platform, and for people to see young queer artists being so open and comfortable in their skin is so important; to inspire those young people who feel uncomfortable or ashamed. It’s being a role model, especially in 2020 where there’s so much chaos. People being openly who they are is more important than ever.” 

Songs to check out: 

  • Eugene 
  • Cola
  • Caroline 
  • Black Dog

7. Now, Now

If you're looking for honest lyrics about the ups AND downs of love (both reciprocated and unrequited); Now, Now's album 'Saved' is for you. The Fader describes the album as spinning "arcade colored synthpop to the band's space-gazing Midwest emo"

According to a Curve Magazine article published in 2017, "Lead singer Cacie Dalager credits her girlfriend Alexa San Roman (who directed the video for “SGL”) with being the inspiration behind the new music." 

Songs to check out: 

  • Yours
  • SGL
  • Window
  • Set It Free
  • Can't Help Myself

8. Rina Sawayama

Born in Japan and based in London, Rina came out in 2018 and has identified as both Bisexual & Pansexual. 

Her music style ranges from pop, to R&B, to electropop, and even alternative. Rina's latest album 'SAWAYAMA' truly offers something for everyone. 

Named "the future of queer pop" by Gay Times, Rina had this to say on her sexuality: 

"I always say that I’m bisexual or pansexual, but I can definitely see a future where I just say queer. Before, there was power in labelling yourself, it was really important to find that box for yourself, and we’ve gained so many positive things from how we’ve labelled ourselves within the community. But now, I meet a lot of people who just describe themselves as queer, and we don’t need to say anything else, which is nice because historically we’ve had to explain ourselves a lot. So I think in that sense it’s a sign of more acceptance, and the evolution of queerness, which I love. When I was growing up, queer was a negative word, so I’m glad it’s been reclaimed."

Songs to check out: 

  • XS
  • Comme Des Garçons
  • LUCID
  • Love Me 4 Me

9. Rebecca Black

Yes, this IS the iconic "Friday" singer from your teen years! Rebecca Black came out as queer in April of 2020. Her music genre is primarily pop, but she also recently released a hyperpop remix of Friday. 

Rebecca had this to say on her sexuality: "To me, the word 'queer' feels really nice. I have dated a lot of different types of people, and I just don't really know what the future holds. Some days, I feel a little more on the 'gay' side than others." (Billboard)

She recently released her EP, 'Rebecca Black was here.' I dare you to try and listen to 'Girlfriend' and not instantly be put in a good mood. Also, the song 'Personal' gives me major Charli XCX vibes! 

Songs to check out: 

  • Girlfriend
  • Personal 
  • NGL
  • Worth it for the Feeling

10. Stand Atlantic 

The best way I can describe Stand Atlantic is that same emo/pop-punk sound I constantly crave from my 2006 high school days. Queer vocalist Bonnie Fraser had this to say on the song Skinny Dipping: "Skinny Dipping is about the push and pull of accepting yourself for who you are vs. how you want others to see you and catering to what you think they expect or want. In this case, I was dealing with my sexuality." 

Songs to check out: 

  • Lavender Bones
  • Hate Me (Sometimes)
  • Skinny Dipping
  • Lost My Cool
  • Roses

July 09, 2021 — Sammy Mermell
Why I made the switch to period undies

Why I made the switch to period undies

Recently, I took to Instagram and posted a story letting my followers know that I was open to questions regarding period undies. I quickly realized that so many people are unaware of the benefits of period underwear, both to the person wearing them and the environment. My goal with this piece is to give the reader a basic rundown of why I love period undies, the type of undies I use (Thinx), and how to care for them.

Why I ditched tampons

Period undies are better for the environment than pads and tampons

According to National Geographic, "Over the course of a lifetime, a single menstruator will use somewhere between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons, the vast majority of which will wind up in landfills as plastic waste." These products can take over 400 years to degrade.

I find disposable period products to be wildly uncomfortable

A few years ago, tampons started becoming quite painful for me to use. I had already started researching alternatives before this time because I've always known that sanitary products are notoriously bad for the environment. So, with that in mind, pads weren't really a valid option for me. I also remembered using pads when I first got my period and had a strong recollection of them being extremely uncomfortable. 

With the tampons being so painful for me to insert, a period cup also wasn't in the cards for me. That's when period undies came into the picture. Period undies are washable and reusable undies designed to replace disposable period products. 

I already had (incorrect) assumptions in my head about what period undies would be like, and this was confirmed to me again with all the questions my followers asked me: 

  • Aren't they uncomfortable?
  • Does the blood get all over you?
  • Do they end up smelling bad? 

So, let's dive in. 

Answering the most common questions

Are period undies uncomfortable?

Absolutely not. I quickly discovered that for me, period undies were the most comfortable option. You know that feeling when you haven't placed the tampon in quite far enough? Or the rustling of a pad in your underwear? Those aren't issues when it comes to period undies. I would compare them to the same level of comfort as any boyshort style underwear. 

Are they effective at holding blood?

Yes! Thinx period undies have different levels of absorption: lightest, light, moderate, heavy, and super, with super holding up to 5 regular tampons worth of blood. I use the heavy option and have never once had any leaks outside of the underwear. Keep in mind, every body is different and some people like to still supplement with a disposable period product on heavy days. 

As far as *feeling* the blood sitting in the underwear: only on my heaviest day will I occasionally feel it for a few minutes (maximum). The undies are so absorbent that the feeling doesn't linger and will quickly feel dry again. 

How often do you change them?

This will be different for everyone. My period usually lasts four days with my heaviest day being the second. To be honest, I typically get away with one pair during the day and a fresh one at night for the majority of my period. On my heavy day, I'll use two during the day and a fresh one at night. I would describe my period as moderate on the first day, heavy on the second day, moderate on the third day, and light on the fourth. 

What about an odor?

In case you hadn't already noticed, periods have an odor - and that's NORMAL. We are shedding an unfertilized egg, blood, and uterine lining tissues. Period undies are designed with this in mind and are built to neutralize smells and control odors. I have never noticed an odor escaping from period undies, but be sure to change your undies when needed and wash them correctly. 

How do I wash them? 

Most period underwear companies suggest the same wash care: rinse them first if you can (I often skip this step and haven't noticed any issues), machine wash cold on a delicate cycle, and leave them to hang dry in a non-humid environment. You can also try placing them in a mesh bag to preserve the quality as much as possible.

Why I chose Thinx

When I first started trying period undies, I purchased from three different brands. They were all around the same price point, ranging from $25 - $50 each depending on absorbency level and design. Not only did I find Thinx to be the most comfortable and secure (no leaks!), I also found they were the most absorbent by a long shot. 

Thinx is also committed to better access to puberty education as well as donating their undies to those in need. One of their missions in Menstrual Equity: "Inclusive menstrual hygiene policy means comprehensive puberty education *and* free and easy access to period products in schools, prisons, jails, shelters, and all public restrooms."

Questions about period undies?

Feel free to reach out to me anytime at: hello@pridebysammy.com 

March 16, 2021 — Sammy Mermell
How I gained 10,000 followers on TikTok in less than six weeks

How I gained 10,000 followers on TikTok in less than six weeks

 

 Spoiler alert: I didn’t dance. 


With over 800 million users, it’s no surprise that people everywhere are jumping on the popular video app. TikTok is a video app where users can create 15-60 second videos and attach sounds and text to each video. It’s “For You Page” is where you can endlessly scroll and be shown videos that the algorithm thinks you’ll be interested in. 

So, what’s the secret to gaining followers? 

In my own experience, the method to gaining followers on TikTok involves choosing a niche audience, using hashtags, and engaging with videos. 

Choose your audience and make content that resonates with them

In order to gain followers, you’ll first want to decide who you want those followers to be. When I first opened my account, my videos had no rhyme or reason to them. When you post videos that don’t have a theme or an audience in mind, the algorithm will have a harder time figuring out the appropriate people to spit your videos out to. 

I’m a lesbian, so I decided I wanted my audience to be the LGBTQ+ community. I made my account during quarantine, and I knew I wanted to find a community of people that I didn’t have in “real life.” With this in mind, I started making videos that I knew would resonate with the LGBTQ+ community (specifically, women-loving-women or “WLW"). 

For example, one of my first videos to gain traction was a tattoo my fiancée (then girlfriend) got for me. I quickly realized that the WLW community loved content that resonated with their experiences, so I try to make the majority of my content with that in mind. 

Maybe your niche is your pets, or home decor, or crafting, or comedy, or maybe it’s dances - whatever it is, try to keep your videos relevant to that and use the appropriate hashtags. 

Use the right hashtags

If you Google “how to gain followers of TikTok” a lot of pages will recommend using trending hashtags. Personally, I’d advise against it if it’s not actually relevant to the video because it could just confuse the algorithm and start spitting your videos out to the wrong people. 

For example, if I uploaded a video and used a trending hashtag that had nothing to do with my video, it might reach people that aren’t gay-friendly. I’d rather not have that audience engaging with my videos because, A.) they definitely won’t follow me and B.) it could encourage the algorithm to push my videos out to more people like that. 

Once the TikTok algorithm figures out your audience, it does an excellent job at getting your videos to the right people. With this in mind, I never once strayed from using my audience-focused hashtags (#LGBTQ, #gaygirls, #lesbiansoftiktok, etc.). 

Engage with other videos

In my opinion, engaging with other videos on TikTok is just good practice. Not only are you helping support your fellow creators, but it also gives you more exposure. 

TikTok users FREQUENTLY go to the comments on videos to see what people are saying about it. I’ve commented on a video before (someone else’s video that blew up), and the comment has gotten 500 likes. The more likes, the higher it pushes this comment to the top which gives you even more exposure.

Most importantly, when you engage with content, you create relationships. I’ve made friends through this app and consider them my community. 

Other things to note

Try to jump on trends early 

The longer you wait to hop on a trend, the more saturated that trend is. Sometimes I’ll scroll right past a video if I’ve already seen the trend a hundred times. If you’ve found a trend you love but it’s already overdone, try to add something different to it and make sure you let your audience know in the caption by saying something like, “A twist on this trend!” This will encourage people to stay. 

Make sure your videos are high quality

Super fuzzy or dark videos just don’t do as well as higher quality videos with good lighting. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy an expensive camera or professional lighting - I use my iPhone camera but I make sure I’m filming in a bright area of my house. 

You’ll also want to make sure you’re avoiding using excessive filters. An account with videos that all use the “rain” effect (for example) and multiple filters don’t do as well and aren't as “aesthetically pleasing.” Go to any TikTok account that has a ton of followers, and you’ll notice that the majority of their videos are clear and don’t use excessive filters. 

Post frequently 

It’s simple: when I don’t post for days, the rate at which I’m gaining followers slows down dramatically. I try to make sure I’m posting 2-3 times every day. This is especially important in the beginning when you don’t have any videos trending. When I started out and my videos were getting less than 100 views, I couldn’t rely on them being spit out to people for days (or even weeks/months) at a time like some of my videos do now. 

As far as the right times to post - this is always changing as the algorithm changes and as the current pandemic changes. When I opened my account in May of 2020, most of the country was in quarantine and had more time to scroll on their phones. Now (November 2020), more people are back at work and are on TikTok at totally different times. 

To add to this, TikTok “spits” out your video at totally different times from video to video. For me, sometimes it’s 30 minutes after I post, and sometimes it’s 5 hours after I post. So, my only advice on this is to avoid posting super late at night or in the middle of the night. I like to post mine from 10:00AM - 8:00PM EST.

Just have fun with it

At the end of the day, if your only goal is to gain as many followers as possible, you won’t enjoy the app and might end up being frustrated when videos flop. As I said before, I’ve made real friends through the app and it’s given me a real community of like-minded people who I can engage with while quarantining. I also have debilitating social anxiety, so communicating through social media is a very safe and comfortable option for me. 


Hope this helps. Have fun!

- Sammy (@sammymermell on TikTok) 

November 17, 2020 — Sammy Weller