Queer Aesthetics and the Digital Era

By: Banzi Mehlo

The digital era has shaped how we use social media today. We have seen the rise of instamodels and influencers, and everything is happening online. It is still mind-blowing that some get paid for posting a picture of them, sipping a cup of tea! What I love about content creators is that they use their platforms to showcase their creativity, in quite unique ways. Since I am a sucker for aesthetics, I am always searching to find fresh talent. Those who know me will tell you that I love Instagram and if I was paid for it, I would be living in Calabasas. Just like everyone else, I’ve always envied influencers because they seemed to be living “the life” and it is the total opposite.

Cape Town-based digital creator and Chartered Accountant , Masawandile Tom ,also know as MasaDiamond (@masadiamond on his online platforms), caught my attention immediately  with the voguish fashions and wigs, which I am obsessed with. “It first started with me wanting an avenue to express my creativity and also have a digital mood board where I got to put out my work and share my creative talents with as much people as I could,” Masa explains what made him want to be a content creator.

Being unique as a creative is very important as it makes you stand out from the rest and allow you to have your own audience. For him, it became more than having pretty pictures and a perfectly coordinated IG account.  “ I have a point of view and pushing a very important agenda which is that black gays are beautiful, they are smart and are never to be put in a box,” he said. He describes his fashion style as a mixture of perfectly synched waist silhouettes, earth tones and effortless chic. “Imagine an afternoon stroll along the markets in the French Riviera but make it fashion,” he added. For him, this is experimental because he is always looking at ways to really get himself out of his comfort zone and feel like he has been able to do that beautifully over that years, I couldn’t agree more with him on that.

It may seem like it’s all glitz and glam for a career like this, all the hard work and determination is needed to succeed. Masa mentioned, “Sharing my journey of finally getting my CA(SA) certification earlier this year while simultaneously growing and evolving as a creative is living proof that we as black queers especially, have so much to offer this world and we should remember this always even when society tries to break us down and make us think otherwise”.

I have always been curious to know if constantly updating your content gets tiring because for sure the pressure get really overwhelming. “100% Yes!! It does, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I would feel frustrated or just uninspired,” Masa said. He also added that he uses that moment as a time to unplug and take break for himself, to gather himself and self-introspect.  According to Masa, it is so easy to get consumed by what’s trendy at the moment and as much as there is nothing wrong with that, it’s usually just not what he intends to do with his platform.

On consistency, he said, “I get asked this question quite a lot. I’m what my friends tend to describe as a content machine. Consistency has never been a problem for me, truly. I could go out for brunch with friends and take enough content to last me 2 weeks”. He also said that the fact that he is able to create so much in a short space of time, meant he was evolving  way faster as a creative and constantly pushing himself.

“This has educated me, kept me grounded and just overall made me a more open- minded being,” as Masa concluded. He said that the biggest highlight for him was being able to connect with so many people from different walks of life, countries and if it wasn’t for the digital age he would not have access to.

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