Get To Know Our Pride Fam: Bob Civil
by Emily Gaynor and Abby McIntosh
If you couldn’t already tell, glitter has a permanent place in our hearts. It’s shiny, multi-dimensional, and offers up a healthy dose of surprise and delight — all things we appreciate. Beyond being a fun addition to your makeup routine, however, glitter captures something deeper — the potential to reflect the truest version of yourself to the world, no matter what light you’re standing under. We’re paying homage to glitter this Pride Month by kicking off our “Glitter = _____.” campaign, which stars Milk Makeup Fam from The Center and the beauty community. We talked to them about how they’re celebrating Pride, what’s next for them in 2018, and, of course, glitter.
Meet artist and techno lover, Bob Civil.
MMU: Where do you live?
Bob Civil: I live in Ridgewood right now, but I’m originally from Ukraine. My family immigrated here when I was 8 months old so I grew up in Bensonhurst, in all of the Russian areas of Brooklyn, then I moved out to Long Island. Then I fled to Rochester for school, and now I’m back.
MMU: What’s your perfect day?
BC: It would start with waking up being surrounded by friends and community, heading to the beach and hanging out, then heading somewhere where I can dance and getting really sweaty on the dance floor.
MMU: Have you celebrated Pride Month in the past? How are you celebrating this year?
BC: Celebrating Pride is just an extension of being myself. Pride Month is a great time for queer people to have a platform to speak about themselves and their issues and all the intersections in their communities, but I think celebrating Pride Month really means just continuing to be alive and thrive and pushing community and friends to all work together to build a better world.
Image: Bob Civil
MMU: What’s your relationship with beauty? What’s one beauty product you can’t live without?
BC: It’s interesting being socialized and raised female and learning about makeup as a tool to kind of create a face and to have to look a certain way, and then understanding and coming into my queerness and realizing that makeup is a tool for self-expression. And I don’t have to use it in the way I was told to. My routine really looks like kind of just funking up my face as much as I can. I really like Milk Makeup Eye Pigment in Mermaid Parade, and I like to just make different shapes and give off queer cyborg vibes whenever I can. My grandma gave me a dark lipstick years ago and it’s my favorite; I use it all the time.
MMU: How have you navigated situations in the past where people may not have understood you?
BC: It depends. I try to just take a deep breath, and if something is happening and it’s not affirming my existence, then I understand that my reality is one very small reality in the history and placement of our world. I just try to explain who I am and what I stand for as calmly as I can and depending on the person’s response, we’ll either have a conversation about it or we won’t. I try to talk about myself and get people to understand where I’m coming from. It’s a place of trying to learn together and having to learn about them, too, because there’s a lot that I don’t know about people’s identities, too.
MMU: Where do you feel most like yourself?
BC: I think the place I feel most like myself isn’t one physical space, but it’s a space where I’m with queer people and allies and people understand the type of world we’re trying to build, and who understand the social constructs we’re trying to deconstruct to get there. Physically, that might look like the dance floor, that might look like The Center, or in a meeting for a group. It’s really about being in community with people who are loving and supporting each other.
MMU: How did you get involved with The Center?
BC: I’m the in-house designer and graphics artist at The Center — I do all the photography, video, and motion graphics. We have a pretty small communications team and I’ve been really fortunate to take on this role. I’ve been there for about three years now. It’s been really formative to my experience; I’m really grateful for it. I started identifying as trans outwardly last year when I was at The Center, and it’s a really great place to work, and I’m fortunate to work with people every day who support the same ideas that I do.
Image: Bob Civil
MMU: What’s your go-to way to relax?
BC: I practice meditation and make music, and making art also really helps me relax. Also, talking to people who understand me, and sometimes just closing my eyes and listening to a song I really like and dipping out of reality.
MMU: What big lesson have you learned in the past year?
BC: I’ve learned so many lessons in this last year. Something I’ve learned and that I’m constantly reminded of is the power of being authentic and staying true to who I am, even if that’s not something people want to see. Finding my own power and my own space is what helps me to take up the space I need to without asking for it. And to push myself to be better and stronger so that I can build and help other people so that we can be authentic together and not let the weight of taught behaviors and social constructions affect us.
MMU: If you could tell your 15-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
BC: Just hold on. Every year of my life has been better and I’ve grown stronger and learned more and 15-year-old me would never have imagined that I’d be where I am now, so I would say just hold on.
MMU: What are you watching and listening to?
BC: My favorite band is The Books. I really like techno, too, and absurdist art. My taste level really varies. What’s important for me is the subject and that it’s queer and that it aims to make things absurd, and make people understand that everything is silly, with very material consequences of said silliness. I go to a lot of techno and house dance things.
MMU; What are your hopes for this year?
BC: 2018 is feeling and remembering that when I feel comfortable and confident in my body, that is because I accept myself and I don’t listen to other people’s socialized ideas of what I should be. We make this world and we build the spaces we wanna live in, and I just want to keep building spaces for people to be comfortable in.