Pride Essentials asks our favorite LGBTQ+ artists to share the influences that have made them who they are today.
Arabelle Sicardi is a writer, editor, and brand strategist, best known for her astute beauty and fashion coverage, beats she began covering over a decade ago at the now-defunct Rookie mag. She was once referred to as “The Thinking Woman’s Beauty Writer,” by this magazine, but as Sicardi writes herself, “I’m still that — but I’m also much more. I’m interested in telling stories in an authentic and empathetic way,” and she does, informing her work — which covers everything from business to identity — with equal parts precision and sensitivity. She’s now working on her second book, The House of Beauty, a nonfiction work about beauty industry. Below, she shares the books, movies, and places that shaped her identity growing up.
Bend It Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha), Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Park Chan-wook)
You know the first one that comes to mind, even if it’s not the most accurate one today, would be Bend it Like Bekham? Like I still believe that there has to be a director’s cut of just them being lesbians together. I refuse to believe that that movie wasn’t meant to be dyke propaganda; it’s definitely a part of my pride programming. South Korean horror movies are also so part of my psyche, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is absolutely formative to me. I must have spent literally years of my life just fangirling Chan-wook Park professionally. One of my first editors suggested I watch But I’m a Cheerleader. And this is before I even came out. And that movie helped define my life.
The L Word, Beastmaster, Xena, Farscape
You know, my dad was actually the one who told me to watch The L Word when I was little. He was like, I think she was like this character Shane. And like obviously I love Shane. I also really liked the show called Beastmaster. It was like this shirtless guy with a hawk or a ferret; I was obsessed with that show and I watched it back to back with Xena, which is also gay propaganda and I loved both. I also really liked Farscape, which is a sci-fi show. That show was queer misfits in space to me. I love science fiction for that reason. I feel like anything’s possible.
The Circle, by Tamora Pierce; The Young Wizards, by Diane Duane
The books that come to mind immediately are from my thankfully unproblematic faves, Tamora Pierce and Diane Duane. They’re both wizardry magic series. There’s the Circle series from Tamora Pierce. Those books are so important to me because they actually did have lesbian main characters and the mentors in some of those books were queer. And they were explicitly queer. They weren’t just like after you read them five years later, the author said that they were queer and we just didn’t know it. They were actually lesbians, which is important to know. And they were always defying tropes of respectability, which I also love.
The most important series to me though was the Young Wizard series by Diane Duane. I am so glad that I read that before I read, Harry Potter or whatever, because it combines so many ideas that I still I owe to her for introducing to me to because the whole idea that you would even be able to be a wizard in this world is that you have to take a wizard’s version of the Hippocratic Oath. So it presents to you as a kid with this idea that you have a responsibility to the universe to use your energy wisely, to help other people, and that anything you do relies on the fact that you have energy and you can’t waste it, and you’re a part of a community that will help you. And the younger you are, the more power you have in this universe. But that doesn’t mean that as you get older, you become weaker. It just means that you have to use your wisdom differently to help other people.
My Chemical Romance
Well I’m from New Jersey, so I am legally obligated to say My Chemical Romance. One of my favorite moments of my young 20s of suffering was me and my friend had just broken up with people and we were miserable. So we went on a friend date. And we went to the Poconos to go look at abandoned love hotels and go bowling. And then we went and rolled around on the grass in front of the My Chemical Romance high school. It was really restorative. So I stan My Chemical Romance.
The Original Rookie Crew
I had no like role models when I was a super baby gay, I just disappeared in books that I liked. And then I grew up primarily on the internet, like my entire life from like 12 onwards is online and I’m fine with that. I’m lucky to have found the people that I found at such an early age. I discovered feminism and all of these aspects of my life in real time when I was 15, when I became friends with the original Rookie crew. I was lucky that this group of people were also in different stages of their lives. So they had different advice and comraderies to offer me. They’re the ones that introduced me to other people that were LGBTQ in the crew. To have cool adults that supported us, didn’t make us feel like we were infantilized, and were excited to share a cultural history with us — that was so important.