That’s a pretty odd question, right? How queer is your scent? I mean, we’re all just out there trying to decipher the odour profile of a scent and what the heck it smells like, not to mention whether we like it or not, or whether it has enough longevity and sillage to get us through the day, right? Let alone trying to work out how queer it is for Pete’s sake! What does that even mean, anyway? How can a scent be queer? Is that even a thing? This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. Ever since i shot some queer-inspired photos for my review of Frederic Malle’s Superstitious, in fact.
Being a member of the LGBTQIA community (yes, we like our letters because it’s important to be inclusive) I have always felt that one of the key drivers for true acceptance is representation. Whether people are accepting of the community or not, it exists and queer people have the right to be represented in all mediums, whether that be in movies, music, art, or even perfume. This is something I want to explore in this little think piece, but it’s important to note though, that I am one person and not representative of the entire LGBT+ community. I am a white, cis-gendered gay male and I can only speak for me, and the community is so much more broader than any one person. So I hope we can share our varied opinions of the subject of queerness in scent, because it’s an important topic.
So what is a queer fragrance? After all, one could argue that if a perfume can’t have a gender, can it really have a sexuality? Well, to me, a queer fragrance isn’t about making a fragrance that is gay or trans, it’s about any scent that has a concept inspired by LGBT+ culture. It could be as simple as a fragrance inspired by a queer icon, or maybe one that celebrates queer art. It’s about telling the rich tapestry of stories within the history and culture of the LGBT+ community, which leads me nicely onto the subject of perfume and story telling.
I have come to the realisation that I am an incredibly fortunate person. I am gay. I came out at the age of fourteen to a family that shrugged their shoulders, said “big deal” and told me that they loved me. I have always been sure of myself and my sexuality, and having accepted myself at a young age, I have been able to move forward through life with confidence and without shame. Sure, things were a little rocky at school (coming out at 14 isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, I must say) but I encountered nothing I couldn’t handle with a raised middle finger and a simple “fuck you”.
I have found love and because I live in a country with marriage equality, I have been able to make a lifelong commitment to my love and I’m honoured to be able to call him my husband. Sexual orientation is also a protected characteristic under the Equality Act (2010), which means that it would be unlawful for someone to discriminate against me, whether directly or indirectly, due to my sexuality and therefore, I cannot lose my job or be denied a service because I am gay. Most importantly, I live without fear and I live openly with freedom.
This however, is not the case for every LGBT person in the world. Whilst we have been celebrating pride over the weekend and the American Supreme Court’s decision that all states must offer marriage equality, we mustn’t forget that it is still illegal to be gay in 76 countries around the globe. I can live and love freely, but others cannot, and sometimes those that cannot risk, not only imprisonment for their love, but also death. A fact that is astonishing in this day and age. Imagine risking death to be yourself, or love who you want. It’s almost impossible to believe, isn’t it? We take our love for granted, where others have to fight for theirs, or even worse, they have to conceal it.