Blackbird Khai on Butterfly Makeup and Gender-Fluidity | Pride in Place

Although Pride celebrations will look different this month — shifting from parades to Zoom parties — the makeup is sure to be the same: colorful, fanciful, and fun. We asked five makeup artists and creators to share their dream Pride looks and how they’re using makeup as an artistic medium to not only explore their identities but also cope during this difficult time in our new series, Pride in Place.

Khai — aka @blackbirdkhai — is kaleidoscopic. No other word better describes the artist’s aesthetic. On a weekly basis, they post pictures of their colorful hair and makeup to represent the latest tesselation of their identity, almost never repeating the same style. Khai will add flowers to their hair, change out the color of the beads at the ends of their braids, and paint on new hues of liners. The 20-year-old from Atlanta shares a look that encapsulates all this exclusively with Allure along with why they believe gender doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have a singular presentation.

Courtesy of Khai

Makeup and I have been through the works when it comes to expressing my queer identity. I knew I loved makeup, but I felt, at first, no one would respect my gender identity if I used it. Now, however, I know I am constantly changing — and so does my makeup. I love being a shapeshifter and changing my physical appearance. I had to learn there is no specific way to look gender-fluid.

Pride, to me, is a celebration of me coming into who I am. Globally, it’s recognizing the struggle of the LGBTQIA+ [people] who came before us and continuing the fight for equality.

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