The Castro District holds an enormous amount of history not just for San Francisco, but also for us Queer folks. Castro was one of the first gay neighbourhoods in United States. Throughout history, the Castro neighbourhood has been a “Safe Space” where Queer people have gathered whether it has been to participate in political movements, or to simply party.
I met Sophie Peoples on Instagram (@sophiehoney ) and instantly fell in love with her aesthetic. The way she represented herself, as a Queer female was very captivating. In particularly her attention to detail in every outfit she pulled together really had me swooning.
After various hang out seshs, I learned Sophie resides in the Hills of the Castro Neighbourhood – A space that is predominately inhabited by gay males. I was interested in learning about Sophie’s experience as a female in living in the Castro District. What was it like being a young, queer female artist in this hood?
I sat down with Sophie to gather more insight on her experience in the Castro Hills, and asked if she felt it had influenced her self-identity journey. Her responses nothing short of lit my soul the same way she lights up the streets of Castro + San Francisco.
THE DL: Sophie Peoples is a twenty five year old Artist, Designer, and self-proclaimed Spiller of things. She claims to identify as Queer but uses Gay on the regular.
In what ways do fashion and your living space play a role into the way that you describe your personal style / present yourself?
“It’s always hard for me to describe my style in words. But, I mean they’re one in the same, right? The way I dress my body and my apartment are an embodiment of the things I like. They’re the way I do things. What makes me comfortable and confident and calm and energized. There’s the what (clothes, accessories, art, plants, furniture, etc.) and there’s what you do with them. As a creative person, for work and for play, everything I do is a presentation of self. And it’s important to me. In the same fashion that I match my socks to my lipstick (whether anyone notices or not), I choose my morning mug for coffee, I try on clothes at thrift town, I grow plants in my shower, I wear pink headphones.”
What are three different ways that describe your fashion style, living style, and occupation?
Fashion: Playful, vibrant, balanced.
Living: A collector of creative clutter and colour.
Occupation: Creative and concise.
Can you talk about your experience as a Queer Woman who lives in the hills of the Castro neighborhood; has it influenced you negatively or positively in your journey of self-expression?
“I wouldn’t say it has been specifically negative or positive… but the impact of living in a primarily male-dominated “gaybourhood” has definitely had a direct impact on my queer journey of self-expression. When I was first coming out at the tender age of 18, I had a hard time finding the company of other queer women. I didn’t know where to find them (or if they even existed), so I found comfort in the next best thing and the closest thing I could identify with: gay men. I first moved to the Castro in 2012 and it definitely rubbed off on me in ways. My closet was filled with floral button ups and bowler hats, oxford shoes and bowties (I know, I did that). Essentially, I dressed like a gay man. Not to stereotype all gay men into a narrow category of fashion, but we are talking about the Castro here. I could tell gay men had a draw towards me, or well my closet. I felt a kinship in that. “
How does fashion play into your sexuality?
“I think my style is a huge expression of who I am. As a human who struggles with expressing myself in words, I definitely use fashion to convey myself to others. I used to put a lot of thought into what I was wearing in regards to my sexuality. I wanted people to perceive me a certain way. I wanted to attract certain kinds of people and I wanted to give them the right impression. I didn’t want to look “straight”, and it upset me that just because I carry myself in femme-like fashions sometimes, people would discredit my sexuality. I think that’s why I spent so much time trying to figure out what dressing “gay” meant. And then I realized, that anything I wore was gay— whether masculine, femme, or gender-bending in between— because I was queer that whatever was on my body was in turn queer. I like the idea of determining what is queer, simply by doing it whether it’s a trend or not. I definitely love incorporating less subtle nods to queerness in my wardrobe, ie. pins, hats, etc. but I’ve embraced that my sexuality, my queerness is a presence not a presentation. And my fashion is just how I’m feeling that day.”
Has fashion played a role in making it easier or harder for you in your Queer Journey?
“Honestly, both. I struggled a lot with it when I first came out. I felt so boxed in. During my “coming out” I think it was really hard because I was trying to present a certain way. I was trying to be like “HEY GIRLS, LOOK AT ME, I’M INTO YOU, I’M WEARING A BOWTIE, I’M GAY” Even when whatever I was wearing didn’t really feel like me. I’ve never been good with words so I try to put out as much as I can without having to use words first. I’ve danced all over the style spectrum, and I think I’ve finally struck a balance about what feels right. Like I said earlier, if anything I’ve learned that my queerness is presence not a presentation.”
Word of advice for those hesitant to play with their image?
“Make your bff wear matching outfits so you can sink or swim together.”
*All Images Credited to Erika Soliz *