We recently had the immense pleasure of spending an hour getting to know Ariah “Rye” Taylor, a TomboyX fan, content creator, and absolute f**king delight. We talked boundaries, queer co-parenting, and how to build a better world. Now you get to know her, too– lucky you.
Ariah Taylor: I'm 27, I'm a daughter, I'm a granddaughter. I'm a mom and a sister and I'm gay, so I guess there's that. I'm just a little bit of everything, but mostly I'm just myself. I like to draw. I like to film TikToks. I like to do makeup. I'm very passionate about it; it was actually my career for the longest time.
TomboyX: What made you want to live out loud on social media?
AT: It's really just always been who I am. I was always loud. I always talked about my identity, even when I was married to my kids’ dad; I was very open about the fact that I was identifying as pansexual at that time. I was on Snapchat, lip-synching to all of these songs, so I finally caved and joined Musical.ly. I was making content specifically geared towards body positivity, because I struggle with an eating disorder where I binge eat, and it caused huge weight gain. I shared those pictures because I remember that time of my life where I didn't want to be in any pictures. And I was finally comfortable enough to show me and share the fact that I went through all of that with everyone. Then it kind of shifted gears into, I'm also queer. On TikTok, there were all these people going through similar things, whether it was eating disorders or struggling with their queer identity, and they didn't know what to do after being told that they couldn't be queer because they have kids and things like that. It's just really cool that I’m able to talk to people and let them know that they're not alone.
TBX: What are you most passionate about?
AT: I'm pretty passionate about life. As someone who struggled for a really long time and didn't necessarily want to be here, it's a completely different feeling to wake up and want to choose life. Whether that means quitting my 10-to-6 job or giving up little things that I don't necessarily like to do. I don't have to see people that I don't necessarily want in my life anymore. I get to choose now.
TBX: Do you bring those conversations about boundaries and identity into your role as a mom?
AT: We're very big on boundaries. I won’t even kiss my kids without asking first. If my kid wants a hug, they ask me if they can have a hug. I'm always going to say yes, but it allows them to ask and then if they don't want one, they know that they don't have to. Same with friends: my five year old is going through, you know, “this kid wants to be friends, this kid doesn't wanna be friends, this kid is mean to me but I want to be his friend.” I remind him, “we don't have to be friends with them right now. It's important that you are able to recognize that they have a boundary.” They're allowed to say no, they're allowed to make choices for themselves and get themselves dressed. The little things like that are important when you're growing up, because I didn't always have that.
TBX: Do you talk to your kids about your queer identity?
AT: They know who I am. I remember my daughter's first time being like, “girls kiss girls and boys kiss boys? Everyone can kiss anyone?” And I'm like, “oh, I mean, yeah, like, that's the best thing about life.”
A lot of kids are still being taught, ‘this is for boys and this is for girls, and you can't do that because you're a boy and you can't do that because you're a girl.’ I'm like the exact opposite. You can do whatever you want, whatever makes you happy, doesn't matter who you identify as or what you want to be, you can do whatever you want.
AT: I grew up with a very conservative Christian family. We lived in shelters when we didn't have homes. And one of the requirements for one of the shelters specifically was that you had to go to church on Sundays and you had to go to youth group and you had to go to Bible school. I was coming to terms with my identity and like, how are you to tell me that I'm wrong? Like, do you think I'm gross?
I went through a few years of my life up until I was 14, where it was like internalized homophobia. I think that's the best way to put it. Like, oh, no, I'm not gay, I could never be. Sometimes that's the struggle that you have- it’s within yourself. It has nothing to do with other people.
When I came out, I came out to just a few of my closest friends at school and I hadn't come out to anyone at home because my grandma was super religious. I wasn't sure how my mom would take it. I didn't know until the year that I came out that my mom was actually bi and she just never said anything. She had girlfriends and she just told us they were friends and never introduced them as a partner. So I didn't know that I could have had that support sooner, I guess.
I went to a sleepover with my girlfriend and I came home with two hickeys and my mom was furious. She was like, “you said there were no boys. You lied to me.” I'm like, “Mom, it was all girls. I'm not lying to you.” She's like, “oh.”
[My kids’ father] is very supportive. One night that was supposed to be just one night as friends turned into years, and two beautiful kids. I'm so grateful he's still my best friend.
We go over queer identities and different sexualities and things like that. I haven't seen him out at a Pride festival or anything, but I know that he would go if I went. I have such a big love for him and who he's turning into as a person. Our relationship didn't make him hateful or resentful, and I'm just grateful for that. We co-parent, we live together. I think that I've been lucky and my partners are very understanding of our situation, that obviously he's not going anywhere.
TBX: What does your perfect world look like?
AT: Healthcare access for everyone.
No homelessness. As someone who was homeless for so long and sleeping on the streets…with the right opportunities and the right resources, people can come up from that. My mom is literally proof that you can change or you can get lucky. They just need more resources, more kindness, more communication and understanding between everyone.
I've always wanted to open up a hotel, but like a free hotel specifically for homeless people to take a shower and have a place to sleep for the night. I know they have homeless shelters, but there's so many restrictions on them. They don't hold enough people or they might be geared towards only women. And while I understand keeping women and children safe, I also understand that sometimes men need help too. So I've always wanted to just create what would have been more beneficial to me growing up when we were living in homeless shelters or on the streets.
Respecting people's values is important, and not judging them. I've always been very adamant that if it's not something that they can change in five minutes, there's no reason to think about it. It's not your concern. You can choose to be kind.
TBX: Tell me about your relationship with clothing across all your identities.
AT: Clothing is one of the few ways that I feel like people should be able to express themselves. Not everyone actually caters to plus size; it might say 2x or 3x, but it really fits like an extra large. I feel like a lot of the times when it comes to brands extending sizes, they take a product, they size it up, and it doesn't necessarily look the same. I remember when I first found Tomboy X, I had a friend who posted her bralette. Just seeing that she was also a plus size woman and she could find something that fit her, but also it had a rainbow on it. I got so excited because I was like, finally comfortable with wearing clothes that show that I'm not actually straight. Like, please notice me, I'm girly, but also to signal to men that I'm not actually straight. Please leave me alone. I felt represented and liked the fact that it was queer and it's gender inclusive.
TBX: Doesn’t have to be from TomboyX, but what’s your favorite item of clothing?
AT: OK, but it is the Dinosaur Onesie. I wear it at least twice a week.
You can find Ariah on TikTok and Instagram @himynameisrye.