The Makeup Primer For Coming Out


Makeup played a big role in my coming out story, and I had so many different coming outs.

When we went to church, my mom would always wear this specific blush and burgundy lipstick—in the 90s that was the thing to do. I would play with my mom’s blush when she wasn’t home, and I’d wipe everything off before she got back. But my sister had the really good stuff: powder foundation, eyeliner, and mascara. Mascara didn’t wash off like blush and lipstick did, and I didn’t know how to take off—one time my sister caught me playing with it, and told my mom, and I got in trouble. It was a whole big thing. But I knew I had to keep going with this stuff. Makeup seemed to change my facial features—that was enthralling to me. I have long eyelashes, but I loved seeing them curl up even more.

I was able to make my own mini makeup caboodle when I got to college. I wasn’t good at makeup at all—I only knew what I saw my sister do, and that wasn’t much. But my roommate, who is now trans, was a drag queen. Seeing her put on makeup before we went to class, even though we weren’t supposed to wear makeup at our Christian school, felt so rebellious. I started going to Pride when I was like 18, and we were all playing with eyeliner, putting on a little bit of powder foundation, some mascara… and white eyeliner, because that was the thing down south. We thought we were the prettiest things ever.

No one in my family knew I wore makeup until I was well into my 20s, and by that time the cat was out of the bag. When I came to Glossier I really started getting excited about Pride makeup again, because it was a safe space to be my most authentic self. Last summer during the pandemic, my sister and I had a heart to heart about how she treated me when I first came out, especially when it came to experimenting with different looks. If she saw me trying to watch her do her makeup, she would always shut the door—but it wasn’t the fact that she was prejudiced, or didn’t want me to be me. More so, she didn’t want me to live a life where I always had to defend myself, and she was afraid. I’m 30 years old now, and I still think twice about wearing lipstick in certain spaces. I wear nail polish, but I put my hands in my pockets until I feel comfortable. I don’t care about judgment, but safety is always in the back of my mind.

I’ve been reading a lot of stories that say there’s going to be a boom in men’s beauty. But, when you think about whatever ‘men’s beauty’ is, it doesn’t necessarily speak to everyone who identifies as a man. It doesn’t include us. There are still only a handful of Bretman Rocks on a very large scale. But when I do my makeup you get a sense of my personality—I do a lot of bold lips and fluffy eyebrows. Going against the rules and being the people that we want to be is the best feeling of it all.

—Angelo Matthews

Photo via the author