A conversation with Kie Tate, as told to Universal Standard
US: What is your name, your pronouns, and how do you identify?
KIE: I go by Kie, my pronouns are she/her, and I identify as a lesbian.
US: As we collectively transition out of quarantine, this time in solitude has been much more than just staying in. What do you consider your greatest challenge existing as an LGBTQ+ person while in quarantine? What has been your greatest victory?
K: One of the greatest challenges I have had to deal with is anxiety. It was brought back to my attention loud and clear last December when I almost ended up on the floor after an anxiety attack. I realized that I needed to take better care of my health and needed to get to know my body better. Just being in a community of like people, we have hatred amongst ourselves because there are cliques that are formed. You can feel alone, isolated, and depressed and we must do better in our community and come together. As a victory, I gained a person during quarantine who understands me solely because they took the time to get to know me and they are facing challenges with me still to this day. We are great friends. I learned to get to know myself and recognize some things about myself that I would not have without them. I am currently working on myself along with a therapist.
US: Every LGBTQ+ person knows that coming out is not a singular, linear process, but rather something we are faced with nearly every day. How do you relate to the phrase “coming out” in your journey as an LGBTQ+ person?
K: The phrase “coming out” was in stages throughout my life and with each time, I was denied by someone. Always wanting to be good enough for them was my goal. Once I realized that it was not going to happen, I began to come out for myself and be okay with the lifestyle I was given. As early as elementary school, I knew I liked the same sex. Putting it out there was not the hard part, just accepting it and having others deal with it. Walking out of my house every day is a risk in itself, because being a black gay woman with a child raises a flag to all that want to hate and dictate your life!
US: How do you connect your identity as an LGBTQ+ person to your personal style and presentation of self?
K: It’s the vibe that takes over. No words spoken can erase the feeling that people have when they are around you. First impressions are everything, and they will see and feel your energy way before you approach them. Clothing matters and it’s all about how you dress. I match my energy. My personal style represents me in a way that says I am inspiring, I am confident, and I am authentic.
US: Expression of self is a deeply personal experience, and one that is often connected with personal style. How do you connect your identity as an LGBTQ+ person to your personal style? How would you describe your style?
K: I connect my identity with my personal style by adding the touch of “inspired by Kie” at the end. I make sure that I am authentic, and I feel comfortable. If the wardrobe is not comfortable, then I will not wear it. As a ‘fem’ — which are more on the girly side — it’s hard to tell that I am gay just by looking at me (as we joke about within the LGBTQ+ community). I would describe my style as Boho+Chic meets Urban Boss! I can switch up and surprise you with a bold crop top and slit midi skirt. I love sunglasses, rose gold watches, and cardigans.
US: The campaign name From Staying In to Coming Out holds a double meaning for many LGBTQ+ people experiencing this time of quarantine. What are you most looking forward to as things transition and you reintegrate yourself back into the world?
K: It’s funny that I have gotten comfortable being inside. At first, I was getting so anxious to get back outside and ready to get back to “normal.” But now, since things have been adjusted, the “new norm” has set in, and time has seemed to speed up... Here we are almost 2 years later, and it’s like all I want is time. It seems like time was the one thing that everyone realized was valuable to them and I have appreciated it too. I was already a homebody, so reintegrating time with the people that I care about the most will be my goal as well as not putting off so many things with people.
US: Look back on the beginning of quarantine… What would you say has changed the most in your life from then until now?
K: Literally the confidence and finding myself by influencing others. Within a years’ time, I started a blog, and I grew my following from a little under 10k to 50k on Instagram by influencing people like me, and started collaborating with companies that showcase what I am all about. Just being candid and raw got me here. I post transparency throughout my feed and relate and interact with my followers. It gave me the push I needed to look within my own life too, and realize that it’s okay to seek professional help if you are dealing with past or current trauma! Opening up about myself is one of the best things I have ever done, and I still have a long way to go but I have never felt this good, ever. All it took was time for me to realize this. We are so used to being in the fast lane. Always on the GO GO GO! Slow down and breathe. I also want to thank Universal Standard for this opportunity! I am so grateful.
Continue to celebrate Pride with US and read the next From Staying In to Coming Out story with Josh Jenkins.