Entering the world of fashion can feel like being immersed into a fantasy: providing a sense of escape and community.
This is especially true for members of the LGBTQ+ community, who have spent centuries being
repressed from expressing their true identities. Numerous students from the University
of Mississippi enjoy escaping to this place.
Fashion plays an important role in Ole Miss’s history. From Greek life to dressing up for football
games, fashion at the university has always been very uniform. There’s a certain expectation that
students in the community have to uphold. But in recent years, some students have been
subverting those expectations.
Sitting in front of a makeup vanity listening to female powerhouses like Beyoncé and others,
student Jaquavious Lee journeys to that fantastical world by transforming into his drag persona,
Inspired by iconic androgynous forces like Prince and Janelle Monae, Lady Pluto is an out-of-this-world manifestation of divine feminine energy. Lee says that performing as Lady Pluto feels like an “extreme dopamine rush” and uses this persona as a way to express “hyper pro-black” concepts that he wants to see in mainstream media.
Lady Pluto made her first appearance in October 2021 at a Halloween-themed Code Pink, a
series of monthly dance parties and drag shows held at the Lyric in Oxford. Her
drag-iversary was at the Code Pink event held on Oct. 27.
Code Pinks are a hotspot for off-the-wall and extravagant fashion because they always
have a theme. People adorn themselves with clothing that serves as a physical manifestation of
how they feel on the inside. They can also embrace different ideas and innovations with their
pieces. People from all walks of life attend, and no one cares about societal expectations.
Historically, fashion has always been an outlet for the queer community. In 1892, Oscar Wilde and his friends began to wear green carnations on their lapels to express that they were queer men.
A more modern take on this nod towards one’s queer identity is incorporating the
colors of the different LGBTQ+ flags into their outfits and the way they accessorize.
Sophomore film production student Autumn Payne is no stranger to expressing herself visually due to her field of study. She has always used fashion as a way to express herself since she was a young child.
Payne said that the way she dresses is a means for her to “silently communicate with other people in the community” and that it has been “an expression of (her) queerness for a while.” She takes influences of her style from gothic and punk subcultures in addition to the beauty of nature and the romantic whimsy of fairies.
Junior science education major Sol Adams just came into their personal style recently and breaks all the rules imposed on them. Adams talks about how it’s “frowned upon” to dress very flamboyantly living here in the South. But, since coming to college they’ve been able to experiment with fashion, saying that they “felt very liberated” and that they “could take control of (their) life.”
“I think that whenever you take aspects from both masculine and feminine wear and you
combine them together, that almost in a way is a sense of validity for, either Two Spirit people or
non-binary people who think that they’re both masculine and feminine, such as myself,” Adams said.
Attending an institution that has a conservative historical background, the queer community at
Ole Miss shows courage through its authenticity. Lee says that he hopes “it becomes easier for queer people to be queer.”
With more and more students becoming comfortable enough to show their true identity through fashion styling, students hope that the university will become a more inclusive environment for
everyone who wants to experiment with their style and break boundaries.