Queer excellence at this year’s Met Gala

LGBTQ representation and awareness were in full force on fashion’s biggest stage

David Matos, Associate Arts & Life Editor

The Met Gala is back and gayer than ever after a year hiatus.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted the much-anticipated night on Sept. 18. The theme for this year’s Met Gala is “In America: The lexicon of fashion.” The star-studded guest list typically works with designers who uniquely interpret the provided theme through their garments. Many guests, with the American theme in mind, chose to utilize the biggest stage for fashion to represent the LGBTQ community in their red carpet looks.

Metropolitan Museum of Art holds the Met Gala every year. (Photo by Steven Pisano) (Steven Pisano)

Beauty influencer Nikkie de Jager wore a blue tulle gown embroidered with floral accents by Edwin Oudshoorn. The makeup enthusiast came out to the world as transgender last year in a YouTube video titled “I’m Coming Out” and continues to use her platform to bring much-needed awareness to the LGBTQ community. Her gown pays homage to Marsha P. Johnson, a Black American, gender non-conforming activist. Johnson was one of the pivotal figures of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that helped kickstart the gay liberation movement.

Jager’s floral accents on her gown are inspired by Johnson’s signature flower crowns made from discarded flowers found in the Flower District of New York City. The garment was also decorated with a sash that read, “pay it no mind.” The phrase was often used by Johnson when they were questioned about their gender identity. On the morning of the event, Jager went to visit and lay flowers on the location where Johnson’s body was found.

“When I got asked to join the Met Gala I knew I wanted to pay homage to a trans icon who was at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots,” Jager said in an Instagram post. “Masha P. Johnson paved the way for so many of us, and I hope I made my community proud tonight.”

American soccer player and LGBTQ activist, Megan Rapinoe, wore a blue top embroidered with white stars tucked into a red pantsuit by fashion designer Sergio Hudson. Her ensemble, made to clearly represent the American flag, is paired with an Edie Parker clutch that read “America” on one side and “in gay we trust” on the other, directly playing on America’s national motto, “In God We Trust.”.

Dan Levy, creator, and star of “Schitt’s Creek,” wore a high-concept look created by Jonathan Anderson and the LOEWE team. The garment is inspired by the American multimedia artist and LGBTQ activist, David Wojnarovicz. His work is influenced by his struggle with AIDS. He was a member of ACT UP, an international political group whose goal is to end the AIDS pandemic. He died in 1992 from AIDS-related complications.

Levy’s outfit has the imagery of two men kissing. This image is taken directly from Wojnarovicz’s work, which is named after a homophobic cartoon the activist discovered.

“But rather than feed on the message of hate, we wanted to celebrate queer love and visibility – acknowledging how hard artists like Wojnarovicz had to fight, while also presenting the imagery in a way that offered a hopeful message,” Levy wrote on Instagram.

The look honors a queer American voice while celebrating the resilience and emotions of the LGBTQ community.

The background on the ensemble is of world maps, which demonstrate the arbitrary borders and divisions faced by the queer community. In honor of the collaboration, LOEWE donated to Visual AIDS, an organization supported by Wojnarovicz that promotes AIDS awareness and education.

Elliot Page, the star of “The Umbrella Academy,” wore an understated black Balenciaga suit paired with black sneakers. This is Page’s first red carpet appearance since coming out as transgender in December of last year. Pinned to his chest was a green rose, which had more of a powerful statement than what meets the eye.

The flower is a reference to Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who was famously persecuted for his sexuality in the late 1800s. Wilde once asked his friends to wear green carnations to the opening night of his comedy “Lady Windermere’s Fan” in 1892 and has become a symbol for queerness ever since.

A green carnation on the lapel is an ingenious hint of one’s homosexual identity. The unnatural color of the flower is also symbolic of something that many close-minded individuals often view as unnatural, queerness.

The Met Gala has always been a safe space to express something important to the wearer through their garment. Queer history and awareness have consistently lacked mainstream media attention. Whether the message is as subtle as Page’s green rose or as overt as Rapinoe’s “in gay we trust” clutch, any message or historic moment that is pushed to the forefront is a major progressive step forward for the LGBTQ community.