Lijha Stewart & Yvonne Macinnis, Make Up Artists and LGBTQ Advocates
We were introduce to this talented couple, Lijha and Yvonne, through our network From the surface, these two already look cool AF, but trust us, they're much deeper than pretty eyeshadows with nice hair... cool AF with incredible talent and brains! Both work in the makeup industry, married to one another, and are huge advocates in the LGBTQ+ community. We spoke to them about what it means to identify as "queer" and how heterosexual folks can be allies. Chime in the read below:
Often times, what you do is not who you are. Who are YOU, Lijha and Yvonne?
Yvonne: I am still learning. I’ve recently made a conscious decision to leave a Global Artist position within a very successful Fashion/Makeup company to follow my heart and honor the quest of truth and integrity that has been calling me for so long. I am a creative with a warrior spirit. I am a leader. A fearless trailblazer. I am art at the core of my being. I believe in justice and equality and I love to champion the underdog. I am queer. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my blessings. I love love. I am a mentor to many and inspired by connection. Above all else I am living my truth and happy to share my journey with others.
Lijha: I used to believe that what I did is not who I am. After leaving my corporate job of 8 years, I believe that everything we do is who we are, because what we spend our energy harvesting is what grows in time. When people would ask the always illusive status question “what do you do” I would say, “I make money working in corporate cosmetics, but I do a lot of other things.” This was jab at a superficial question to help them compartmentalize my status and it was a way for me to voice my frustration at a society that deems importance on titles and how we make money.
In answering this question I realize that all the negative energy around “what do I do, vs who I am” is clear now. I do, as I am. I’m a creator, I empower people to feel good about themselves through art, makeup, healing, and writing. I hold space for humans to heal and walk forward in this life. I also now feel completely comfortable saying I make money doing these things.
In the most laymen terms, can you tell us what it means to identify as “queer”?
We feel QUEER can mean many things to many people and is a word the ( LGBTQ+) community has taken back, from negative or derogatory connotations of the past. We've experienced segregation even within the Lesbian & Gay Communities and feel most comfortable identifying with something a bit more ambiguous.
“Queer” to us, is fluid, progressive, accepting and expressive. Its an identity for all the “others” and we love embracing the potential for movement and self-discovery that it offers. We have created an online Community called “Lipstick Queers” which is open to all, accepting of any, with visibility, human rights and intersectional feminism at the core of everything we do.
For someone who is heterosexual, how does one become an ally for the LGBTQ community and do you believe the LBGTQ community are sensitive to pronouns?
For our Heterosexual allies, simply being aware is a great start. Awareness of what pronouns are and how people identify are becoming commonplace place and more than ever the general populace are sensitive to the fact that people may identify outside of the heteronormative standard. With all the changes we think it can be confusing to navigate new terms. For people who aren’t exposed to the new gender vocabulary no worries, there are many resources, like documentaries on Netflix and TV shows such as RuPaul's Drag Race or POSE on FX. These are all mainstream accessible and have done an incredible job in educating through pop culture. When in doubt you can simply ask for people’s pronouns, by asking, “What are your pronouns” and never assume someone’s sexual preferences just based on their physical appearance.
You both have your separate projects and careers - what made you come together and create Lipstick Queers?
Yes, we both work as makeup artists separately and together. What made us create Lipstick Queers was lack of representation in both the queer and herto communities. We are here to shift paradigms; like “queer people look one way”, that feminism is not sexy, and that makeup is only to be applied to make someone “pretty”. We felt a call to visibility, to not only show people our love and art but share the lives of other people. With the digital landscape being so convoluted with cookie cutter imagery we wanted to challenge the status quo and inspire others to do the same.
How can makeup be a political statement?
Makeup can make a political statement as can any form of art. We celebrate makeup as our artistic medium, our form of self-expression and feel it is our way to communicate with the world. We’re all about pushing through the norm, challenging the expected and creating imagery and content that is provocative, educational, fun, inspiring and feel it is our responsibility as artists to continue to connect and unify.
Given the shit we are witnessing, do you two have hope that the climate will change? And do you have plans to help change it with your work?
We work with young artists often, training them or collaborating in some way and are so inspired by the progressiveness, acceptance, and intelligence they possess. We are doing what we can to lay the groundwork now, and know the exposure that the (young) world has will continue to connect and educate far beyond what we are capable of today. We have so much healing to do as a society and we believe having the opportunity to share stories will bring us all closer together.
The future is equality, community, compassion, balance, acceptance, positivity, and love.
Lipstick Queers is part of the fabric in the grand tapestry that we believe will eventually grow larger than the ignorance and hatred that still exists today. We are proud to be a guiding light to others who have not yet found their voice and stand in solidarity with those who have forged and fought for our freedom before us.
Introduction by Chary. Interviewed by Chary + Emily