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StoryCorps: “There’s a little piece of you that’s still shining through.”

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Photo: StoryCorps

Steven Romeo talks with colleague Amanda Keller about incorporating his personal style into what he wears to work.

Amanda: So how does your queerness impact you on a day-to-day basis?

Steven: My queerness operates in very different ways when I’m in a professional setting. I’m expected to be in slacks and things that are not form-fitting. Three months into the job, I was told if I wanted to fit in, I needed to be wearing clothes that were less tight. How am I gonna get a job if I feel most comfortable wearing makeup?

Amanda: It’s interesting that you have those two conflicting identities where one is you know you want to make sure that you present yourself well and you want to have something that helps you to look a certain way and at the same time you…you’re considering yourself genderqueer.

Steven: Yeah. Living my most authentic self looks very different. But when I want to get in clothing that I feel comfortable in on top of just looking my most authentic self, I have to be in the most queer-safe space. We think professional, and we think the most white, cisgender suit, tie. Like even though I’m wearing gingham right now and they’re colors, that’s still out of the box for management in Alabama — or really anywhere.

 I remember writing you letters-7

We talk about dress, right, and it’s appropriate to be in your belt and not just your shoes and socks. And you wear a wrist watch. And when you’re giving presentations, you’re in a suit, and you’ve got a tie on. While I like getting dressed up, I would just prefer to wear heels. I would like my suits to be very tailored and my hair to look a very certain way and not feel like I’m not going to get a job because I’m presenting to the CFO of the United Way of Central Alabama and not have any idea how she’s … he or she … is going to take my presentation.

Amanda: I love that you say that, though, and even as you’re speaking to me and you’re dressed phenomenally well and you are presenting yourself in a very masculine way, you have two flecks of glitter on your forehead.

Steven: [laughs]

Amanda: That I love. It’s just still shining through no matter what you do. There’s a little piece of you that’s still shining through.

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