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PHOTOS: The 'Handsome Revolution' Is Here and Queer

PHOTOS: The 'Handsome Revolution' Is Here and Queer

PHOTOS: The 'Handsome Revolution' Is Here and Queer

Masculine-of-center and transmasculine folks show the meaning of 'dapper' in Miki Vargas's new series.

Images of queer and trans masculinity are still much too few and far between in popular culture.

A trend that's so common we barely even notice it, this lack of visibility often means that masculine-of-center women, masculine gender-nonconforming people, and trans men have to dig to find even a few pictures that reflect themselves in the wider world, which can sincerely effect one's confidence, says San-Francisco-based wedding photographer Miki Vargas. That's where an artist can come in and make a real difference. 

Beginning in 2012, Vargas began collecting images of non-traditional masculinity to fill the void. Now titled The Handsome Revolution Project, her work is a vibrant collection of models looking sharp in suits, ties, and sweaters, showing what the range of masculinity looks like in today's world. Her subjects shine with self-possession, looking pleased just to be themselves.

TheHandsome Revolution Project is all about "empower[ing] others to be authentic, to feel handsome, and to continue to use fashion as a tool for gender expression," Vargas explains to The Advocate. Each model also gets space to explain what their masculinity means to them.

"I think our world has come far but not far enough yet," Vargas says. "We still don't see female masculinity represented enough in the media, and I believe it is important to see ourselves represented in the world. Visibility is an educational tool and promotes acceptance."

Morever, Vargas adds, this is an issue that can crop up in LGBT-exclusive spaces.

"I'd love for this project to help knock down the little boxes within the big queer box to remind us all that we cannot accept transphobia, sexism, etc. within a community that fights together for equal rights as humans," she concludes. "The beauty in our differences is so infinite it cannot be categorized."

Check out images and words from The Handsome Revolution Project below and learn more at Vargas's fundraising page here.


Masculinity has so many forms that present themselves both internally and externally. It is a voice of self expression that some of us display in the ways we dress (or don’t dress), the way we style our hair, wear makeup (or not), or simply in the way we carry ourselves. For many of us, appearance of masculinity is a way to identify with our inner selves. It is a way to stand out, feel strength, and look beautifully handsome while doing it. I identify with my masculinity as a way to embrace my androgynous appearance. I rock out a suit and tie when I am feeling fancy, keep my hair trim with a clean mohawk, rarely sit with my legs crossed, and lift weights just as heavy as the guy next to me at the gym.


Masculinity is the form I take that allows my authentic self to emerge. It is the way society sees me, categorizes me. To me, though, it is comfort and beauty and challenge and fun. Masculinity is a part of me, but I am so much more.


Masculinity to me is something that defines my center. It allows me to break down social constructs and educate people on a daily basis surrounding the "normative" ways women should act and dress. It empowers me as an individual. To show that masculinity in women is completely acceptable. Masculinity is very much defined by the individual embracing the broad range of qualities being masculine has the ability to hold. Personally, being masculine gives me strength, confidence, courage, and a voice in myself without following age-old gender roles and the idea that only a man can possess those qualities masculinity carries.


I think masculinity means many things to many people. When I think of what it means to me, I think about my great-grandpa who helped raise me, quiet and kind, strong, compassionate, and steady. He taught me that respect is everything, and even if you have no material possessions, if you have respec,t you have everything. He also showed me that hard work was essential to being a man and that men provide and take care of their families. The measure in a man is how well his family was cared for. When I think of masculine, I don't think macho, I think of my hardworking, callused-hands, dapper fedora leaning to one side great-grandpa.


Since I have been dressing myself, I have toiled with how to present myself. As a masculine-presenting female-bodied and -identified person, I grew up proclaiming myself as a tomboy. In this space I was able to reclaim my womanhood as I gravitated to masculinity.As I work to unpack my privileges and challenges, I am appreciative to the rise of the "dapper movement" within the boi community. This has increased the acceptance of fluidity, to an extent, in the queer community and has allowed me to live closer to feeling free in my presentation.


To me, masculinity is an energy and a mind-set more than anything else. When I think of masculinity, I think of chivalry — the definition of which is masculine in service to the feminine. Being courteous, generous, honorable. This is how I want to be in the world personally and how I want to act toward women. I don't think masculinity necessarily has anything to do with maleness — and I love that I can stride into a room wearing boots and jeans, my breasts just as out there as the tie I'm wearing, and I can be masculine as hell. Women feel it. Men certainly feel it. I walk an edge between genders and worlds. And I like it.


Masculinity is a funny thing. It can be the most freeing and it can be the most constricting. Masculinity is often confused for meaning the same as being a man. That is not true. Inside every human there is a level of masculinity and femininity ... they are just all different. And that is beautiful. It wasn't until I started my transition that I really started to understand what it meant to be masculine. So what does it mean? Anything you want it to mean. I think we get so caught up in thinking that masculinity has one meaning or one purpose, when in reality, how masculinity is perceived and expressed is as unique as the individual. It would be a really boring world if all masculine people expressed it the same way. Unfortunately, though, our society favors one from of masculinity over another, and that is the image that is put into our heads. We need to challenge that image, and that is exactly what we are doing. Masculinity comes in all forms from all sorts of people. As a trans man, I always struggled with embracing my masculinity. But as I got older, started understanding myself, and then later transitioning, I better understood what it meant to be masculine. And I refuse to shy away from it. To be masculine does not mean to be oppressive. That is called ignorance and bigotry. To be masculine means to embrace your true self and live it authentically. For me it means that I am strong, confident, gentle, compassionate, energetic, and supportive ... expressed through my everyday living. You define masculinity for yourself, and that is what is so awesome about it.

True Bloo

Masculinity is a word used to describe traits which can be found in people of all sexes and genders. For me, masculinity does not exist without femininity; it is essential to my wholeness as a multigendered being. It adds depth, character and self-confidence to my experience on this planet. There is no one way to be masculine; we all have the power to redefine it on a daily basis. Masculinity can be beautiful when it is used to uplift, respect, and protect instead of to dominate, subjugate ,and conquer. It all depends on who is performing the role and how. I think the same can be said for femininity.


The experience of being a masculine-of-center nonbinary person has been a realization of the utter absurdity of how gender norms are assigned and imposed. I have always been attracted to a masculine presentation of myself but from an early age was taught that was not an accessible or appropriate way to live in my body. My hope and vision is for more visibility and empowerment of all kinds of expressions and bodies. Today I am presenting as I see myself and am in a loving community of affirmation. I hope my own visibility helps create more possibility and space for other folks to see themselves and feel affirmed in who they are.


Masculinity is hard to define — it's abstract and intangible. It's something that we as individuals experience on a very personal level and it can mean something different to each person. For me, masculinity represents my inner self. It's the part of me that I want people to use as a cue on how to read and interact with me. It's not better, stronger, tougher, or more valid than femininity, but it's how I relate to myself and the world, and it's how I want people to see me.


Masculinity is beautiful and complicated. I was EXTREMELY feminine before I came out as queer, after which I wholly rejected any femininity and tried to be as masculine as possible. As hard as I tried, I heard repeatedly that I had a feminine "edge" or quality that I would never be able to escape. Being in feminine clothes felt like being in drag, yet trying to be hypermasculine didn't feel any more comfortable. I felt that the androgynous/masculine-of-center folks I found to be gorgeous would never be me. I have slowly found myself over the years and love the masculinity that drives my style and being.


Masculinity to me is an attitude. Society disapproves of women with strong attitudes and more so of masculine women with an attitude. Aye, this indeed has been the rub for me my whole life. Friends tell me I am the most “butch” person they know. I scoff, “Butch?” What exactly does that mean? I’m just being who I am. They talk about earning “butch points” for doing traditional “male” tasks, such as repairing a broken faucet in the kitchen — I’m not that handy around the house at all — although I’d like to learn to do more of these tasks I don’t think of them as “masculine”; rather they are skills to be learned — anyone can do anything with the right attitude, training, and tools. While I have been very comfortable with the attitude of being a masculine woman, I have not always been so comfortable in dressing the part. In the past I have wanted to don a very masculine suit and tie, but being fearful of being judged and labeled a “bull dyke” I have settled for the more feminine versions of these clothes in general because society still cannot understand the difference between gender and sexuality. I do not have penis envy, but I am envious of male privilege. I want to be free to be who I am in manner and in dress without fear of ridicule or physical harm. And I do not want a penis except for when I get lucky and my wife reaches for one of the latex versions from our bedside drawer.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Mitch Kellaway