"South Asian Queer femme women, because of the way racialized gender is culturally coded as heterosexual are often rendered invisible – partly because of their feminine presentation, as many femmes will attest, but more so because of the way their gender and ethnicity are inextricably linked and defined by others. Their queer authenticity repeatedly questioned, and their sexuality framed only when in proximity to a visibly queer presenting person or occupying a LGBTQ space, and even then their entry into those spaces may be denied.
Dress is an integral component in building visible connections to various aspects of a cultural identity, such as identifying with a youth culture, expressing one's gender or sexuality, and sometimes an ethnic identity attached to diasporic roots. We know that dress can equally be instrumental in the construction of queer identity, though popular representations of queer identity and culture are often implicitly racialized as White, while 'authentic' queer identity is visually represented with Eurocentric formations of queer masculinity, or femininity.
Through examining the use of dress as a tool to resist these norms of Eurocentricity and heterosexuality, we can highlight the ways race, gender, culture and sexuality are ascribed to particular bodies in particular spaces, and how radical dress can affect the visibility of South Asian femme women in relation to public/private space. A different look at racialised representations of queer femininity, and the making or (un)making of gendered ethnicity. This piece begins to investigate the role of ethnic and queer femme performativity in constructing racialized queer femininity. Through visual case studies and interviews, it explores the intrinsic relationships between dress, identity, and culture in the formation of South Asian queer femme identity." Raisa Kabir