I have a new obsession–well, two: Bretman Rock and Manny Mua, the Instagram sensations with eyebrows on fleek and poppin' highlighter. In their latest YouTube video, Bretman and Manny feast on Popeyes while trying not to smudge their lipstick. It’s 23 minutes and 45 seconds of two men, in full glam, chowing down on crunchy, greasy chicken and sharing some hot gossip. (Girl, the tea was strong.) The shirt Manny wears throughout the video sums up the duo’s mentality: “If You Don’t Like It, Don’t F***ing Watch It.”
Watching two men enjoy each other’s company, comfortably, in full makeup, made me realize just how far we’ve come as a society. Bretman and Manny have a combined following of 7.5 million YouTube subscribers. More than anything, that indicates people haven’t just accepted their lifestyles–they’ve invested in them.
I started thinking about all of this thanks to Bretman’s new eyeshadow palette with Morphe Cosmetics, Babe in Paradise, which includes shades with names like “Shady B*tch” and “Get LEI’D.” I was moved–not just by the cheeky titles, but by the photoshoot for the product, which saw Bretman, in full make-up and a mermaid tail, truly living his best life.
Growing up in a Catholic Latino home, I learned early that boys were not "supposed" to wear makeup. Rather, boys should play with car toys—I played with a mermaid doll. Boys should play sports—I danced and sang in musical theater.
After coming out to my family and friends in my adolescence, I felt pressured to make sure they could understand me, which meant first understanding myself. I focused a lot on the term “gay.” At 16, I didn’t realize there was an entire community of people who could truly relate to me.
I am fascinated by the progress we’ve made–though, of course, there’s plenty of room for improvement and always another battle we must push through. If you’re reading this and you’ve felt alone and confused, it’s OK. You are not alone. You are loved and deserve to be loved. I’m 23 now and still learning–I think we all are. Surround yourself with a positive support group and never stop asking questions. Someone will have the answers.
When I discovered Bretman and Manny in all their gender-role-busting glory, I was also drawn to their friends who, in equally full glam, similarly radiate positivity, beauty, and self-love through social media: Nikita Dragun, Gabriel Zamora, and Patrick Starrr (who has his own collaboration with MAC.)
What makes you feel beautiful? It doesn’t have to mean wearing makeup. If there’s something you feel good about, keep doing it. Don’t worry about what others think or have to say about it: At the end of the day, you are the only person you can rely on to make yourself happy. You are in control of your happiness.
Besides finding new makeup gurus to follow on Instagram, I also learned how to better articulate being part of the LGBTQ community thanks to Trans Student Educational Resources. Whether it's about highlighter brushes or what it means to be cisgender, let’s learn how to talk to each other and keep the dialogue going.