As we celebrate the return to (almost) normalcy for our Lunya/Lahgo Bedroom in NYC, revel in the reopening of a city in full bloom, and partake in Pride festivities across the boroughs, we caught up with Ry, one of our key staff members at the Nolita store, for his thoughts on home, style, and queer community.
Some basics to get us started – what's your name, what do you do, and where are you based?
My name is Ry Herbst, I'm the Lunya/Lahgo Assistant Experience Manager at our Nolita Bedroom here in New York City.
Home & Downtime
Let's talk about home. What makes a place home for you? And how do you make your home, yours?
Home to me has always been a place where all people know they’re accepted. Growing up, I wasn’t always accepted for who I was or how I expressed myself, which was also a common theme amongst my friends, so my parent’s house (sans parents) became a safe place for so many people who felt they didn’t belong elsewhere. My current apartment has become a home, thanks mostly to my partner's creative flare. He has perfectly melded our styles together and turned our Astoria apartment into a dream home.
What activities keep you grounded in your downtime?
With my alone time I spend a lot of it learning about astrology, revisiting old classic television shows, and recently I’ve spent a lot of time reading, meditating, and trying new food.
Style & Masculinity
How has your journey of self-definition been manifested in your fashion choices?
I think, for a long time, I felt I needed to over-express myself in my clothing and fashion. I felt like I needed to dress a certain way to fit in here or there, or be accepted as this or that. Especially to be accepted as a queer man of color in a public school on Long Island. I wish back then I could’ve told myself to just wear what felt best to me, not what people were expecting of me.
How have your views on masculinity changed over the course of your life?
My idea of masculinity has changed frequently over the years, as I’ve begun to understand that no one person is innately masculine or innately feminine. In fact we're all a balance (or sometimes imbalance) of both energies. From childhood, to high school, and now in my young adult years I’ve learned so much from people who have an understanding and have worked towards embracing femininity and masculinity in combination with one another.
What does celebrating Pride mean to you?
Pride to me has always been an opportunity for the entire community to come to the streets, look each other in the face, and understand that they’re not as alone as they may have felt in their past, or feel in their current circumstances. As the Pride Riots started so much for so many, a yearly reminder that we all belong is something that you can’t take for granted.
Every Pride, I usually spend quality time with my partner, my closest queer community, and my best allies. This sense of community that became my chosen family is the most important handful of folks I could ask for. Sharing this yearly celebration with them, as well as every other aspect of my life, is irreplaceable.