Pride Month…. From Two Of Our Own

I’m not really sure how to start writing this, but I feel like that kind of lines up with the subject I’m writing about. With the overload of information about all the different sexualities and genders out there, where do you start?

Okay, I should start by introducing myself and maybe doing a breakdown on my own identifiers.

Hi, I’m Alex, I work with Friend in Me as a character, entertainer and event planner (at least when we have characters involved). I am genderfluid, use various pronouns and am Asexual and Aromantic.

Have I confused you yet?

Sexual and Romantic preferences are as widely ranged and diverse as the people around us, and the experience and feelings are different for every person. I can only describe my own experiences, but hopefully it will help some people out along the way.

Let’s start simple, with a bit of a disclaimer. This isn’t a guide to all the different definitions and information. There is an abundance of information out there and all my aim is in writing this is to bring awareness to that information, and the people and diversity in the community I am a part of.

If I go through this throwing out all the different descriptors and identifiers the LBGTQIA+ community uses, I’ll just add to the confusion, so I’ll get the ball rolling and and conversation started, and maybe you’ll learn a bit or be inspired to learn more.

So my own information. I’ll cover sexuality quickly, as I’ve got quite a paragraph ahead for gender and I won’t bore you. I am asexual. Which at its most basic definition means I am just not attracted to people. I can appreciate when a person is attractive sure, like who isn’t a little in love with Gemma Chan, but there’s nothing for me beyond that.

A straight or gay person is attracted to one gender. A bisexual to both male and female. A pansexual to all of the above. Its as simple as someone who is asexual (ace) just, not being attracted to anyone at all (this is me personally, it varies from person to person).

There’s also romantic attraction, and I could go into detail but that would take a whole other essay. Aromantic summed up for me is kind of like; rather than wanting to date them, consider I could play DnD with them. I have a lot of friends and people in my life that I love very much, its just not a romantic love.

Now onto gender, which is where I really go off. I’m genderfluid, which means I (again this is me personally) don’t necessarily stick to one gender. Somedays I feel feminine, somedays I feel masculine. Most days I am comfortably sitting in the middle (nonbinary). Though I am always a perpetually tired gremlin ready for a nap and a blanket fort.

My pronouns vary, but I’m an easy nonbinary person to learn with, as I like to think I’m pretty relaxed about these things. She/her is generally used by girls, he/him for boys, then there is they/them for people identifying in the middle like myself. I tend to go between all three, but am always fine with they/them, and will more than happily explain my preferences if someone were to ask what I’m comfortable using on any particular day.

I’m happy to explain and be someone to learn with, as I don’t really define myself by any particular pronouns, if I am feeling tied to one at any time I do my best to share that and make it clear, to avoid myself the panic of feeling misgendered or not heard. There are others in the community who’s pronouns are important to them and are a part of their identity, and getting pronouns wrong can be hurtful or dismissive of who they are. So if you’re ever unsure. Just ask! Asking me will usually result in a “I’m fine with anything!” or occasionally “I’m vibing a he/they at the moment”. But I’m never offended by someone asking. It’s how we learn and how we grow.


For many people learning about different genders and where they may feel comfortable identifying it really is a steep learning curve. Am I a girl that doesn’t feel comfortable in skirts and with long hair because I’m just a bit of a tomboy? Or am I just not a girl?

It took me a lot of self reflection and a long time to realise how I feel comfortable identifying. For me it’s not a matter of me feeling uncomfortable as one gender, but more comfortable as something else. (usually in a knit sweater and an inexplicable amount of craft glitter).

I think it’s a really important and really amazing thing to do what we can to learn about all the diversity around us. Just as we would strive to include and share opportunities with any kid. Lets help the kids, teens, anyone who is thinking they mightn’t be the gender they were given at birth, LEARN and thrive and realise that it’s okay to be who and what they want to be. Not just accept them for who they are, but help them accept themselves for who they are. Whether they start by identifying as one thing, and decide their more comfortable as another. They identify nonbinary and realise after a while that they are trans. A little kid you’ve known as a boy since they were born decides they’re a girl and wants to transition. An adult that is comfortable in how they look and present as generally feminine but prefers non binary pronouns. Or like me, a girl growing up and realising they don’t really fit as any and finds joy and that happiness with being able to change.

I’ve been incredibly privileged to be surrounded by a wonderful community and support system that has let me be who I am, asks when they want to learn more, respects when I ask for respect, and just listens. I want to encourage those around me to do the same, be respectful, listen, be informed, or just don’t be afraid to ask.

We live in a world now where this information is available for people to learn. People who identify as a part of the queer community can be out, and proud, and who they are.

I’ve never been much for words but all I hope is that you’ve read this and learned a little bit. That there’s diversity, more to it than what most people think there is. That people are all different and amazing and we should embrace it and celebrate it. Because that’s why we’re here right? To be inclusive and embrace what makes us unique and us!

Happy Pride, love your resident sweater gremlin.

If you have any questions, I’m on socials as @madeup.and.marauding

And I’m always happy to have a chat

Hi everyone, my name is Lisa and I am a regular character volunteer for Friend In Me, which means, I dress up as kid friendly characters, go to events and entertain kids! Aside from that, I have been cosplaying (aka: making costumes and dressing myself up as characters from various sources of media) for 10+ years, and this weird little hobby has played a big part in my personal exploration of gender over the years.

Now I preface the below by making it clear that I am in no way an expert on this topic. I can only speak from my own experiences and knowledge. If you do not find my explanations satisfactory, I encourage you to seek out further information from credible sources. To bring it all back to the topic of Pride, where do I stand exactly? To put it simply, I consider myself to be Genderqueer, and I use he/she/they pronous (yes, all of them!). Genderqueer is a term that falls under the umbrella of Non-Binary, which means we identify outside the strict binary of male/female of which we were assigned to at birth. But it is very important to understand that every non-binary person has their own definition for what this label means for them.

For me, being Genderqueer means that I don’t identify as either male or female or neither, and yet sometimes I feel like all of them. Basically, I just identify as me, and I don’t really want gender to play a part in how people perceive me. But at the same time, I usually do not mind what pronouns people use for me, as long as they’re using it in respect and not in jest. It’s confusing I know, and it’s something I’m still constantly learning about myself.

How does this tie into cosplay? Well, growing up as an Asian millennial in predominantly Western countries, I not only had the pressure of the ruthless 90s, but also cultural stresses for me to adhere to the gender I was assigned to at birth. During my time in primary and highschool, it was normal to use homophobic and ablelist slurs to describe anything you didn’t like, and any attempt to present outside of your assigned gender at birth were met with ridicule and bullying.

Back then, I hid my interests and desire to appear more masculine under the term ‘tom boy’, the only time where it was acceptable for a girl to have traditionally male interests. Whilst Western society was generally okay with this, the Asian side very much shut that down, and I was constantly berated for not wanting to wear dresses or wanting to do martial arts instead of piano. Either way, I wasn’t winning.

In the mid 00’s, I reconnected with Anime (Japanese animated shows) and Manga (Japanese comic books), and through that I discovered the world of cosplay. It was a world that was colourful, creative and just so unapologetically nerdy, and more importantly, it bent gender norms in a way my teenage self hadn’t seen before.

This was a world where if I wanted to dress and appear masculine, not only would I not be laughed at, but I would be celebrated and embraced for it. Needless to say, I fell and I fell hard. Throughout the next decade of my life, as I went from only doing male characters, to then doing some less feminine presenting female characters, to then adding both hyper feminine and hyper masculine characters, cosplay became a way that I could express both sides of my gender and connect me with like minded individuals who felt the same way. However, at that time, I still didn’t quite know what I was, I thought I was just a girl that despised being a girl.

Come early 2010’s, the term non-binary entered my vernacular, and I hated it at the start. When I first discovered it, I thought it was just a way for people to slap a ‘special’ label on themselves. And whilst I was always okay with people who identified as Trans, identifying as non-binary was baffling to me. You’re either a girl or you’re a boy, even if you don’t like it, isn’t that how it works?

It took a few years, and friends who then came out as non-binary, for me to realise how much of that thought was steeped in societal gender norms that were engraved in us since young. Societal gender norms that only assumed you were either a boy or a girl, even if you had to transition to be one. But as I read more and listened to individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community, I started to realise just how much this term encapsulated my own experiences with gender.

I came to realise the reason I liked cosplay so much is that I didn’t have to be tied to my assigned gender at birth when I’m cosplaying. I could be anything I felt comfortable as, and I could be celebrated for it.

In 2018, I took my hobby from a personal thing, to the bigger world of character performing and volunteering. The original group that I joined to do these types of events, unfortunately did not allow their members to do a character that didn’t match their assigned gender at birth. It felt a bit uncomfortable, but I took it as a challenge to try out more feminine characters to see if I could ‘pass’ as a Disney princess to the toughest critics you’d ever meet, a group of little kids. And to my total surprise, I did, and I became hooked on the euphoria of being able to make kids smile with my stupid little hobby, however I was still bound by the fact that I could only do female characters.

A few years later, I parted ways with the original group and joined my current one, as well as Friend In Me, who encouraged me to expand my character repertoire. I could flip flop between both male and female characters, and it was such a breath of fresh air to know that I wasn’t boxed in again. I could be Belle from Beauty and the Beast in her big gorgeous ball gown, or I could throw on a spandex suit and be your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Cosplay (now with ‘volunteering’ attached), became a way for me to express my non-binary self once more, now with the added benefit of being able to entertain some of the kids that need it the most.

It isn’t until maybe 3 years ago did I start comfortably identifying myself as non-binary or more specifically genderqueer. When I first started learning of the term, non-binary people strictly used they/them pronouns, hence why I narrowed it down to genderqueer, which to me meant, non-binary, but any pronouns is fine. This is the definition I’ve stuck with for now, but who knows, as language and society evolves, maybe I will too.

You can find me on Instagram as @black_paper_cranes. I’m always up for a chat if you have any questions.