Since childhood, growing up on a farm in rural northeastern North Carolina, I would often hear people around me say, “he’s so pretty; he should have been a girl” based solely on my physical appearance. From an early age, I questioned what they meant, what it means to be masculine AND feminine, exactly why we have these gender roles in society, and what these roles mean to me. Through years of self-exploration and discovery, I came to realize that what works best for me is to define myself, to not let society impose its gender constructs on me. If I must be labeled, I choose to identify myself as a gender non-conforming man and/or androgynous – a term that is defined as possessing both masculine and feminine characteristics.
Growing up multi-racial and feeling in-between genders, not to mention dealing with my sexuality, I often felt the need to choose sides, to try and fit into societal constructs of race, sexuality and especially gender roles. Feeling like an outsider, I was drawn to such multi-racial and/or gender nonconforming icons such as Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Prince, Grace Jones and RuPaul for inspiration and encouragement.
Their mere existence in popular culture made me feel like it was okay for me to explore what it meant to be me. For example, Michael Jackson’s almost raceless and genderless image blurred the lines between what was considered masculine and feminine. MJ also made “cross-dressing” or wearing women’s clothing more acceptable (whether the masses realize it or not) – most recently wearing women’s Balmain jackets in scenes from his posthumous documentary, ‘This Is It.’
I believe I fall somewhere in between a number of society’s constructs and, as a result, I challenge the mainstream populace’s notion of what is acceptable for male and female behaviour and expression. I accept, embrace and celebrate my gender non-conforming androgyny.
I came up with the Prince/Vanity concept for my Alter-Ego Portrait via Celebrity Photographer Derek Blanks because Prince’s androgyny (albeit a more masculine version than mine) was a huge part of his persona as he ruled the 80’s music scene. By appearing as both Prince AND Vanity (photographed for Prince’s iconic 1983 Rolling Stone cover), I was able to explore the outer limits of the masculine AND feminine sides of my androgyny.
Additionally, the Alter-Ego photograph cleverly glorifies my image, which has often been the subject of ridicule and criticism. Bottom line- at the end of the day, I know who I am. So it doesn’t bother me that some small-minded individuals view me as an “outsider.” After all, we are all of us outsiders in one way or another. And as times passes, the negativity related to falling “somewhere in between” affects me less and less.
By the grace of God, I am succeeding- and simply by doing so I am encouraging my love muffins who may be struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin to not be afraid of being “different” but embrace those differences – for they are what make them unique.
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B. Scott’s Official Website: lovebscott.com