5 Queer People on How They Learned the “Nail Code”
Similarly to how queer-coded shoes like Birkenstocks and Doc Martens have now populated mainstream fashion, the current leaning away from acrylics and longer lengths has made finding fellow queer women outside of gay spaces even trickier. “As much as I wish it was that easy to identify someone’s sexuality by their nails, it’s such a gray area,” shares Ford. “Not to mention, I have queer femme friends that rock long nails. You just never know! Whenever I talk about short nails being gay on social media, a lot of straight women get upset, saying anyone of any sexuality can have short nails – which is totally true! I think they’re missing the point of the culture, history, and community surrounding it,” notes Ford. “However, I generally think it’s important to let queer people express themselves free of rules, boundaries, or expectations.”
The Long of It
While acrylics aren’t common, they certainly are not missing among the femme-presenting community. Queer women and nonbinary folks who like longer styles have also been known to get a little creative to have the best of both worlds. Bobbie Briceño has gained a following by showing off her own bold manicures on TikTok featuring long stiletto or coffin-shaped nails with rhinestones on one hand and a trimmed look on the other. “Short nails never felt like they were ‘me,’ but long nails haven’t been the most accepted amongst the woman-loving-woman community. The multi-length manicure I rock now was inspired by a queer friend of mine who showed me hers a few years ago,” she says. “That was when I learned that I could have both form and function, so to speak, and it made me feel like I found a way to present my true self to the world. Since I do them myself, they’re my art, my self-care, and a reflection of my personality. I love having nails that get noticed and are often conversation starters.”
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She made sure to note that “it’s important to remember Black women are the pioneers of nail art trends, and Black and Brown trans and queer women are at the forefront of the queer liberation movement. While as a Brown queer woman myself, I’m known for my unique manicure and have a platform to be open in my queerness, it’s only because of the Black and Brown women and queer people who came before me and deserve all the credit.”
How you choose to do your nails shouldn’t be a topic of conversation that leads to concerns for safety or inclusion in a community. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case in the world today. Manicures that are against the norm can provoke uncomfortable questions in both straight and queer spheres. For example, Boerst went viral on TikTok by showing off their unique manicure style, which features long acrylics on all fingers except for two to three nails that they keep short. When a nail tech asked why they wanted that look, Boerst lied and said they were a professional bowler. “Nails may seem like a trivial thing to focus on, but the way we present ourselves inadvertently may cause people to make assumptions about us,” they explain.