QUEER VOICES

How Model AzMarie Livingston Broke Out Of The Butch/Femme Binary

06/24/2015 11:46 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

When 28-year-old model AzMarie Livingston came out as a lesbian nearly 15 years ago, she said she felt pressure to fit within the femme-butch binary that her environment idealized. But she explained to HuffPost Live on Monday that over the years, she's been able to gain a deeper understanding of herself to embrace her androgynous identity.

Livingston told host Marc Lamont Hill that her all-girls Catholic high school left her feeling naive to the complexities of one's identity. It was obvious how someone identified, she explained, because you either wore more masculine dress-slacks and a polo shirt, or a "little girl's sweater" with a skirt.

"You knew if you were a butch or if you were a femme, and that was it," Livingston said. "So I was kind of brought up a little ignorantly in that sense, 'cause I believed that's all it was, until I got older and got a little more depth."

While she eventually started pulling away from labels in order to embrace both her masculinity and femininity, she understands how labels can help people understand themselves more. But, ultimately, her hybrid identity works for her.

"I would call myself handsomely beautiful because I do play on both of those," the model said. "But it's more than just a look, it's really a whole embodiment of body, mind and spirit. Everybody is masculine and feminine inside. But it's how much of that you tap into [that] makes you your whole self, and that goes for men or women, whether you're gay or you're straight."

Click here to watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about the documentary "The Same Difference," which explores gender expression in the lesbian community.

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