Washington had just repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” as Nichole Payton and Alyah Baker brainstormed names for the retail shop of their dreams. What’s the opposite of “don’t ask, don’t tell?” Payton mused, and so, in November 2011, the Show & Tell Concept Shop was born.

“Show & Tell has always been a store that has focused on the queer community,” Baker said. “Because both the owners are queer women of color, it just made sense for us to make a space where our community could come, where people could shop at ease and not have to worry about discrimination or any sort of negative experiences they were having in mainstream shops. They could just come in and feel at home.”

Home, at Show & Tell, looks like a black chalkboard wall covered in rainbow scribbles, doodles and words of encouragement from visitors, and a sunlit room full of large, high-resolution snapshot glimpses into the lives of people with masculine-of-center identities — people who may have been assigned female at birth but resonate more with masculine forms of gender expression. A transman peers straight into the camera from one photo, two horizontal mastectomy scars underlining his chest.

Pointing at one of the portraits, one shopper, Avery Trufelman, said to Baker, “I just have to say — this is so funny — this is my friend from college in Connecticut who’s on this wall. She lives in Brooklyn.”

“So many people are having that experience,” Baker said, “they’re walking in and say, ‘Oh, that’s my cousin or some people that they know.’”

Their third location in three years has indeed become a community hub for queer people and people of color in Oakland, with regular art exhibitions and special events. The intimate portraits of butch women, tombois, studs, transmen and others are part of the current photo exhibition, Boi/Butch: Portraits of Masculine of Center Identity, with photography by Miki Vargas and Meg Allen, that ran through the end of August.

“It really made sense to do something that we felt like was focused on communities that we were interested in creating safe space for and create visibility for,” said Baker, “as well as supporting local artists and people who were approaching fashion and style from a sustainable or socially responsible manner.”

In addition to its usual array of limited production and mostly local designers, Show & Tell has curated a “Qwear Shopping Experience” this summer to complement Queery: An Exploration of Queer Identity, a series of in-store events which includes monthly open mics. From colorful studded (and non-studded) bow ties by ImmigreatDesigns to gold tie-chains imprinted with words like “femme” and “stud” from Wild Fancy Design, to dress shirts by Scout’s Honor Clothing Co. and Androgyny, many of the store’s summer offerings are created by and for people who believe that fashion doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be constrained by gender.

To conclude Queery, Show & Tell partnered with Betti Ono to host an Oakland Pride Kickoff Party on Thursday, August 28, before the Oakland Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, August 31, and has ongoing end-of-season sales.

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