Waithe says she’s just a “Black gay girl who is out in the world.” She’s queer and identifies as a soft stud who is masculine-leaning, and it’s important for her to bring visibility to the masses both on and off the screen. “I just have to be myself unapologetically, all the time. One, that’s just comfortable and makes sense for me, but also, it’s about showing others what you wear makes you you.” Waithe says she’s always been that way, including when it comes to clothes. “I would go to Zara with my friend Tiffany [Johnson], who was styling me, we’d go to the men’s department and figure it out and make it work.”
As Esposito put it, “she’s comfortable moving the needle,” even in high-pressure situations. “I think, still, there are women who are queer who try to dress feminine when they go to fancy events,” Waithe tells the show host, citing Jaden Smith as a personal awards-show style icon. At the Emmys, she wore a custom-designed gold leaf-printed tuxedo by bespoke menswear designer Jhoanna Alba. (Waithe doesn’t like to wear makeup either; for her, that’s a part of redefining what a woman looks like. “I never feel the pressure to conform.”)
“The things that make us different, those are our super powers,” Waithe said to her LGBTQIA family while accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in September. “Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world. Because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.”
Like everyone, Zara isn’t always perfect, but sometimes the fast-fashion retailer manages to get it right — like when it can help a star like Waithe feel more comfortable in her skin. Now only if Zara were selling capes this season...
Welcome to MyIdentity. The road to owning your identity is rarely easy. In this yearlong program, we will celebrate that journey and explore how the choices we make on the outside reflect what we’re feeling on the inside — and the important role fashion and beauty play in helping people find and express who they are.