By: Michele Koury, Ed.M, MA, MFA
We spoke with Non-Binary makeup artist and advocate Brandyn Cross to see how Marsha P Johnson's legacy touched their life and what Pride month means to them, especially after such an unprecedented year.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I currently live in Koreatown, in Los Angeles CA. I do beauty portraits and editorials, and I started creating my own high quality shots during the pandemic. I always would see people gracing covers of magazines or their faces spread across billboards for major brands, but they wouldn’t look like me. A brown person with facial hair being colorful, queer and true? To some it may seem like a lot, but to me, it seems like what took this long?! I hope to help shift the beauty industry to being more authentic, upfront and connected rather than capitalistic and opportunistic. We have the power, now wield it in the right direction.
What does Pride Month mean to you this year?
Pride month this year is different. I’ve seen what quarantine has done to the world, relationships, and me. I had a lot of time to sit with thoughts of who I had been and who I still wanted to be. Seeing myself happiest when playing with gender showed me that I was Gender non-conforming. I would hear people "gender" items like clothes, makeup, or hairstyles and it always felt so strange to me. I am not a man. Not quite a woman. I love my body and myself. I am not incomplete, I am a work in progress. I am Brandyn. My existence is a statement. My declaration.
I've never been so proud of myself for the work I’ve put in - to finding not just the joy in life, but the joy in myself.
How has Marsha P. Johnson's legacy touched your life?
Marsha P Johnson is an ICON. Moved to NYC with $15 and would repurpose flowers that were given to her to create floral crowns in her performances. She felt bold in her desires; that we should be able to live the lives as Flagrantly as we so choose. We aren’t here to hurt anyone - rather, the opposite. Marsha was a driving force for the Stonewall Riots, one of the reasons we get to sip libations and gather as a community in the bars we do. I celebrate PRIDE for the accomplishments that my Queer family has made, to allow room for me to be comfortable to express myself in this day!
Follow Brandyn @itsbrandoncross