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Perhaps not all members of the LGBT community would agree with the stereotype that gay people simply know fashion, but it is a fact that gay people generally tend to be more fashion-conscious than the rest. Gay men and women are demanding equality and change through style choices, and that has had an enormous impact on today’s fashion industry. These changes are affecting both the LGBT community as well as our straight friends that are now just as free to be free regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Here’s a look at some of these advances and how they are being achieved.

Strong presence in the industry

The list of today’s top gay designers is endless; however, the LGBT community has a strong presence in the fashion industry in more ways than one. LGBT designers, magazine editors, photographers, makeup artists and hair stylists are all a part of making a contribution to what goes on the runways, into the magazines, up on the internet and into our closets. Thanks to them, items that were once exclusively intended for women are now available to men as well – such as skinny jeans – and vice versa. Who said that only women can enjoy sexy underwear? Brands like Cocksox offer men’s sexy underwear for edgy crowds who can use fashion to express their sexuality and feel comfortable in their skin, no matter what society thinks of it.

The rise of transgender agencies

There is no longer a conventional ideal that dictates what is beautiful. This has opened up doors to models of all shapes and sizes as well as genders. Important advances were made recently when several major designers decided to hire transgender models for their shows, sending out the message of diversity and acceptance. Increased transgender visibility in the industry has had an impact in the form of more transgender model agencies being opened up. These choices and runway statements are further promoting beauty standards that are now more inclusive than they historically were.

Unisex clothing

People in today’s society have had enough of being told what to do, who to love and what to wear based on their sex. A lot more of us are starting to identify as gender-neutral, so absurd rules dictating that boys wear blue and girls wear pink are only the beginning of what no longer applies. So go out and get a flamboyant floral blouse from the women’s department even if you are a straight guy, or get a pair of Crocs because it is the perfect unisex footwear that will help you embrace your own gender-neutrality, whichever sex you may be. Fashion is a great platform for expressing oneself, so it is no surprise that we might want to show our fluidity through our clothes. Fashion companies have taken the hint and started producing more and more unisex items to accommodate these increasing demands and new societal standards.

Freedom as a theme

Not only is the LGBT community bringing more gender-fluidity into the fashion industry and blurring the lines between men’s and women’s departments, but it is also playing around with how certain pieces should be mixed and matched – like ugly sneakers and beautiful dresses. We are not afraid to break the rules and experiment with our style, going all out. The theme of our generation is freedom. We want to be free to enjoy ourselves in our own skin, which means creating our own rules without worrying about fitting into some pre-established ideas of style. When we push the boundaries, it keeps the designers on their feet and demands constant advances in fashion.

The rules of fashion are ever-changing, and the LGBT community continues to contribute to this progress as we continue our fight for freedom and equality outside the fashion industry as well.

Peter Minkoff

Peter is a gay lifestyle writer at Queer Voices and The Homo Culture magazine.