When I came out as a God-fearing homosexual in the spring of 2011, I was confused. Now, in the winter of 2015, I’m still confused. I’m confused about what the fuck I was wearing back then.
Before I came out, I dressed in mom jeans and graphic tees. Frankly, my style has only improved a modicum since then, so really this blog post is redundant, but it was really bad back then. Head to toe. H2T.
After coming out of the closet, I turned around, looked at that closet and went, “Wtf? I need a wardrobe overhaul” and like any young gay on a budget and a quest for justice, I went to my local H&M and promptly spent all my summer job money on scratchy sweaters, my first denim shirt, my first denim jorts—what my sisters would call “The Beginning of the End” or the Apocalypse—and countless horrifyingly bright-colored articles of clothing.
But it wasn’t just the H&M overload. As I said before, it was a H2T catastrophe. My hair was brutally cut, my face was breaking out so badly it was swimming halfway across the Bay from Alcatraz, and my eyebrows. Oh lord. Those brows.
When I tell people that I plucked my eyebrows to high Heaven, I don’t think they really believe me. But you guys believe me, right? I thought it was so cute to have plucked eyebrows, so I might’ve gotten a little tweezers-eager.
But the moment that always springs to mind when I picture my high school H&M style was one day in senior year. We—me and some “friends” from “high school”—went to the city—Manhattan, because I’m classy and a suburb slut—for a “fun day out.” We ate Shake Shack and walked around Central Park, eventually doing a photoshoot in front of the Jackie O Reservoir.
Picture this. We’ll start from the T.
Bright purple lace-up Vans. A hint of neon-pink socks with a daring, electric-blue leopard print. Bright yellow corduroy pants. Zebra-print tech gloves. Brown leather jacket zipped up to my neck over a forest-green sweatshirt. Big gray scarf wrapped around my neck. Two ghostly imprints of eyebrows. And to top it all off—The Hat.
The Hat was a purchase from Amazon when a demon took my credit card and my body and went on a shopping rampage. It was a knitted, unisex—I use that term loosely—“one size fits all”—I use that phrase very loosely—unicorn wool hat with dangly ties ending in pink poofs. It became an unfortunate fixture in my life at that time, and is something I very much regret.
I wore it a lot, and only semi-ironically. In the latter half of my high school years, I became very into unicorns. I saw it as a “Yeah, I’m reclaiming the stigma”/ “I’ll take it myself before you can turn it against me” social stance, also unicorns are very interesting animals. I fucking hate horses, by the way.
It was also during that time that I was in the flush of my first blog. “The Amazing Unicorn Files” was a brief snapshot of an attention-seeking monster, and I’m not talking about Lindsay Lohan. It was me. Or a version of me.
On TAUF, which I never called it, so idk why I’m starting now, I was a wildly sassy—a term I absolutely loathe—freak of neon nature. I look upon that blog, and that boy, fondly, but with the careful distance you give a low-budget reality star on a talk show. Respectful, but very wary.
I think in ten years, I might be embarrassed by the atrocious way I dressed in high school—I’m sure that 30-year-old me will also be embarrassed by 20-year-old me—but I kind of treat him like a little brother that I have to protect from bullies. Not that I was ever physically beaten up. Not that it wouldn’t be totally unwarranted. Not because I was gay; just because I was kind of a disaster towards people.
But the Unicorn Hat—Muffin was her/his name—is something that I’m going to spin into a very heavy-handed metaphor. It’s something that embarrassing and endearing. It’s something that I don’t fit into anymore—I have a big head—but it’s something I can’t bear to throw away. It’s something I store away in my closet, safe and hidden.
The Unicorn Hat is my younger self. In case you were lost.
And my past shouldn’t just be my past, although frankly those eyebrows can stay lost. I’m so earth-toned and toned down and “mature” and “elegant” now that it’s easy to forget that I used to be a human tie-dye. I used to dress in scratchy, papery H&M pants and wear colors that didn’t so much pop as scream. And I was fearless in a school that largely treated me like an exhibit in a zoo.
But that freaky, dorky, overenthusiastic kid was brave and bold and took fashion risks and was unabashedly himself. In the wake of me being comfortable in my sexuality and lax in the warm embrace of relative exception, I forgot what it was like to be comfortable in being uncomfortable. I forgot what it was like to live on the tightrope and be daring. And that’s not something I think that I—or anyone—should forget. And sometimes it takes eyebrows like that of a 2002 prostitute and a unicorn hat to realize that.