Did you know that June is Pride month? Yeah! President Obama selected June to be LGBT Pride Month to remember the 1969 riots at Stonewall Inn in New York City. This month marks 46 years since the patrons of the gay bar stood up against oppression. Sure, gay civil rights have come a long way since that day, yet the fight is not over.
The majority of us will spend the month partying, waving flags and taking Pride in our community. – I know I will. However, this celebration got a tad cliché and stereotyped in the media. Don’t you think it’s time to redefine gay stereotypes not only in the media but also within our community?
That’s exactly what Mitchell Fitzpatrick, creator of fashion label Masc Nation is trying to do. When he came across the term “masc for masc” on a gay dating app, him and his friends thought it would funny to put it on a shirt. All of the sudden, people were interested in buying them. And what started as a joke instantly became an opportunity to introduce, promote and mend gay culture.
I had the chance to talk to him (well, not exactly because he lives on the other side of the world). So I could learn more about his vision for the brand, the future and discuss further on gay stereotypes. Here’s what he told me:
What motivated you to create Masc Nation?
To educate, to embrace and redefined labels.
Some of the Masc Nation tees feature labels or communities gay men use to identify themselves online, how did the idea of using those phrases came to your mind?
I came across all these terms on gay dating apps. I thought it would be a personal joke for all us gay guys to wear it as we connect with the concept. You see the irony in it! Then I decided to put all those labels on shirts in case people wanted to wear them to show off their type, pride or for just for fun.
Although Masc Nation is clearly designed for the LGBT audience, were you afraid to release tees that could be used to stereotype gay men and women?
I was never really afraid. However, I was worried some people wouldn’t get the humor and irony of the brand. The point of using these labels on our shirts is to redefine and to embrace them- that’s the message. You don’t have to be “masc” to wear masc t-shirt. That’s the cool thing about fashion; it allows us to place these issues in the public inadvertently.
The gay community is finally reaching a point of acceptance and inclusivity in today’s society. Still in the world of “political correctness”, have people found your t-shirts offensive or what has been the response from the public?
I have had little backlash but, in general, the response is good. For example, one Instagram user said we were homophobic. He thought we were making fun of gay culture (in a bad way). Another threw “shade” at us for only promoting masculine guys. When, in fact, these t-shirts were made to help that acceptance and inclusivity of the gay community. It’s rewarding to see when someone asks what does “vers” mean? They want to learn about gay culture; people are talking- it’s hysterical when straight friends try to guess what the terms stand for.
On that note, what advice will you give to those young men and women struggling with their sexuality or scared of coming out of the closet?
I came out at 23 (that’s considered quite late as a ‘come out’ story/age) – That’s not true, I came out at 26! I was so oppressed with it and didn’t know how to tell people, I was afraid of being judge. Nevertheless, coming out was the best decision I’ve ever made. I am now completely who I am; I don’t have to hide myself or change the way I act. My advice is to face your fears, accept who you are and be ok with it. Some people won’t approve it, that’s not your problem. Lying about you is very exhausting.
What are your thoughts on the most recent Vanity Fair cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner?
The Caitlyn Jenner story is what we need as a society to help push the boundaries of acceptance. Just like being gay, you need to be true to yourself and live the life you want to live, which Caitlyn is now going to do. I applaud her bravery and Vanity Fair for giving a transgender public figure the cover. Hopefully, it educates people about it, and young LGBT people will grow up with hope and someone to look up to.
What t-shirt describes your personality the best?
No Pic No Chat #funnysass – I can relate to that!
If you could pick any gay celebrity/advocate to wear your tees, who would it be and why?
I would love to see Matt Boomer rocking a MASC tank top. I’m constantly reaching out to celebrities, gay or straight to help spread the message. … Ricky Martin is living in Australia, so I might try and get in touch with him! – Hay Que Rico Papi!
What can we expect from Masc Nation in the future?
I want to create more projects under Masc Nation with the pure intention of LGBT youth to feel accepted. I also just finished production on a music video for the brand’s theme song “You Gotta Be Masc” – again it’s ironic and humorous! It’s a musical parody; it will be out in July. More than a clothing label, I see Masc Nation as a multiple platforms of communication. I want to interview drag queens and create more content for our fans. Plus, I want to start an online web chat show where gay men talk about LGBT issues and pop culture.
That was enlighting! And just like Mitchell, I’m trying to do my part to redefine stereotypes. With the help of my friends, Jacob and Dan I created this pictorial that pretty much says: “f*ck gender roles.” If you want to wear a wig when no one’s around, you should be able to feel comfortable doing the same on a Friday night. Do not let society dictate your ability or desire to do what makes you happy.
Photography: Jacob Glaser
Model: Dan Fetting
Creative Director: Jorge Gallegos
Shop MASC NATION t-shirts HERE
Not just a pretty face