inside pansy, the men’s magazine challenging masculinity
Pansy is about not listening to your dad when he says you can't wear your flared, bedazzled hot pants.
Images courtesy of Pansy Magazine
Pearl earrings, pink blush and dewy skin aren’t what you’d expect to see inside a men’s magazine, but for the newly launched publication Pansy, that is exactly the point. “Pansy is about progressive, out-there, cheeky imagery that pokes-fun at the idea of manliness and macho masculinity,” says the 23-year-old founder and editor Michael Oliver Love. “It’s both playful and powerful.” The 100-page first issue features dozens of such editorials: lithe men with impossible cheekbones flaunt pink leggings with high heels, sculptural earrings and floral hats, or glittering jumpsuits in a field of fluffy llamas. “Through this imagery, [we’re presenting] a fresh masculinity, one that is not bound by your typical societal norms,” Love says in the following interview with i-D. “It’s very deep but it’s also very cute.”
Where did you grow up and what was it like there?
I grew up in a quaint little beach town filled with married couples and retirement villages. While I’m sure it’s a lovely place to retire, it’s a bit backwards and conservative for a queer child to grow up in. It’s the age-old tale of the small town logic and problematic ideas that so many of us run away from.
At what age did you come out? What was that experience like?
I came out, well, technically was forced out the closet when I was 17 years old. Long story short, my little brother had borrowed my camera, which contained some cheeky photos of myself and my then-boyfriend, which made their way to my parents, who then came to me. How fun! Getting to that moment where it was all out in the open was a long, conflicted journey filled with hidden rooftop dates, religious intervention and inner-turmoil. But the supposed nightmare of having my parents know “the tea" did not turn out that way. They were very supportive and loving and have never made me feel like anything abnormal. So I am very grateful for the experience I had, as I know not everyone is so lucky.
Why did you decide on the name Pansy ?
When the word is not referring to the cultivated variety of viola, it has been used in a derogatory way to refer to a man that is “unmanly” and has shown vulnerability in some way. Coming from the small town I mentioned before, this is the kind of language I have been surrounded by for a long time, so I wanted to fight back. “Pansy” to me now means bravery. It means defying the norm and embracing one’s uniqueness. I want to reclaim the word as an adjective for breaking boundaries.
I love this description of the magazine: “Pansy is about not listening to your dad when he says you can't wear your flared, bedazzled hot pants.” First, is that an experience you actually had? And second, can you talk a little bit more about who Pansy is for?
I kind of wish it had! But sadly, no, my dad did let me wear my bedazzled hot pants because he’s the sweetest. It’s just meant to show that Pansy is about breaking away from the typical masculinity you have been surrounded by, and trying something new.And on that note, Pansy is for everyone! It’s for queer people, straight people, cool people, lame people — all are welcome. But for real, I think it’s less about who it’s for and more about the message as a whole. Which is that of breaking gender boundaries and presenting something fresh and free that everyone can enjoy.
How do you come up with ideas for the features and shoots? What was one of your favorites in the first issue?
I wanted to make something that is a visual marvel to feast your eyes on and get inspired by — at least for myself anyway! And with it being submissions based, I was honestly so shocked at the utterly beautiful content that was sent to me from around the world. My favorite shot would have to be the mermaid renaissance boys with their starfish and windswept garments… I think moving forward, I would love to involve some thought pieces, interviews and so on — it’s just the beginning!
If you could tell your teenage self one thing, what would you say?
Don’t get those highlights, boo!