Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

His own style

Clothes display sophomore’s identity
Salma Ali
Bright colors and prints have become staples in Gio’s wardrobe.


8-year-old Gio Watson stood in the tall door frame of his mother’s room, in awe of the new purple and white blanket draped on his mom’s bed. He dragged the blanket down the stairs, all over the floors and into his room. That’s where Gio got to work. Staple by staple, he transformed his blanket into a makeshift cape. But to Gio, it was more than that. It was turning his ideas into reality. It was the type of free expression that only a child was capable of.

He wore his cape in his backyard with confidence, taking photos as if he was a model on the runway. After he was done, he rolled around on the enormous hill in his dirt-filled backyard. An hour later and his new cape was absolutely ruined. But to Gio, it didn’t matter at all. It was who he was.

• • •

For this interview, Gio was wearing a brightly colored sea animal printed dress shirt, a lei filled with fake tropical flowers and a piece of yellow fabric fastened to the shirt like a cape. To top it all off, he also had bright purple hair. Gio has always enjoyed standing out, more than fitting in.

“This is fun. It’s free. I make half the stuff I wear so I know I’m going to look good,” Gio said. “It’s just fashion and in a way, it’s also expressing how I feel. It’s just everything wrapped into one.”

Gio can be seen around campus wearing his one of a kind outfits. His clothes range from colorful fabrics and layered prints to black eyeliner and red leather. Over time, clothing has turned into his creative outlet. A way to display his inner emotions and thoughts to the world. But this kind of self-expression has made some people uncomfortable. Friends and even strangers have all made comments on his clothes.

Gio thinks it starts with some students’ parents.

“I’ll overhear parents telling their kids that ‘He’s too gay,’ or ‘He’s too flamboyant,”’Gio said. “I’ve heard parents speak about me in parking lots and I just want to be left alone.”

But this doesn’t deter him. Even before Gio was born, he had a connection to clothes. That started when his mother, Calandra Spencer, first browsed the boys’ clothing racks at Babies R US.

“All the baby clothes were boring and bland,” Calandra said. “So I was crying and I was thinking ‘What am I going to dress him in?’”

The two both shared this feeling. From the first time that Gio experimented with the blanket, he was instantly hooked on creating his own fun expressive looks. A style that Gio describes as weird, beautiful and free.

“Every day, looking the exact same makes me sick,” Gio said. “You will never see me wearing the same outfit within a month of each other.”

Gio wears a bright green outfit with his favorite fluorescent orange shoes. Even as a child, he enjoyed being in the spotlight. (Photo submitted by Gio Watson)

But Gio hadn’t always been able to wear what he wanted to.

Throughout middle school, Gio moved schools often.

Constantly being the new kid was hard enough and isolating. But wearing outfits that made him look strange to the other kids was a nightmare. He felt the stares of the students silently judging as he walked through the halls. Some people would outright insult him to his face.

“It’s hard to just be you because you’re going to offend someone at some point,” Gio said. “The hardest part for me was when someone would say something and I’d hear it either through my friends or to my face…Everything would hurt me so bad, because they were talking like I had done something wrong.”

Gio began dressing how he thought everyone else did. Thinking that felt if he looked like everyone else, maybe it’d get better.
“I was still so hurt and scared about everything that was going on at the time,” Gio said. “I was like ‘I’m not going to double down and wear stuff that could get me hurt even more.”’

After a while, Calandra didn’t even want Gio to wear the clothes he normally wore in hopes to protect her son.

“We have butted heads a lot of times, but it’s just because I’m concerned for his safety,” Calandra said. “I would love for him to live in a world where he could dress however he wants to. Without fear, without getting bullied.”

Everyday, looking the exact same makes me sick. You will never see me wearing the same outfit within a month of each other.

— Gio Watson, 10

All of these negative feelings began building up within Gio. Every insult, every silent stare kept him questioning if he was doing something wrong. By the eighth grade, Gio moved one more time. Although this time, his time at a new school was cut especially short.

He remembers sitting in his uniform in an assembly, when he heard a school official address Gio as a f****t.

Gio felt everything he’d kept bottled upburst. He sprinted out of the school in shock. Three miles later, he arrived home. He cried for hours.

“No matter how perfect your life is, there’s always the things that will stick with you, good or bad,” Gio said. “The more bad things you have, the more you appreciate the good things.”

Going into high school, he decided to go back to wearing the clothes he wanted to wear. Back to when he felt free.

But high school was a daily clash in Gio’s freshman year. He’d walk into school with more confidence than the previous couple years combined. But throughout his day, he’d hear whispered rumors of things he’d done.

Calandra saw the toll it took on Gio’s mental health, but knew he’d face challenges because of his environment.

“It’s extremely painful, scary,” Calandra said. “High school is tough enough as it is and then you’re a neurodivergent, gay, Black kid in a cisgender society and a white suburb like Flower Mound, you’re going to run into things.”

As his mother, Calandra has been there, every step of the way. She’s seen how he has and continues to overcome any obstacles in his way, and how its shaped the person he’s become.

“He is a beautiful human. He really is,” Calandra said.

Gio learned a lot from his life up to his sophomore year. Most of all, he’s begun relearning how to be free. How to be like his past eight year old self without worrying about any outside opinions. He’d lost himself along the path from all the experiences he’s gone through. Yet he’s now come out of the other side with the same unwavering confidence, encouraging everyone to be their true selves.

“Literally do it don’t even have to second guess it,” Gio said. “If you want to do it, take it, and then I promise you, even if you never do it ever again, you’ll feel better that you tried.”

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About the Contributors
Sophia Craig
Sophia Craig, Editor in Chief
Sophia Craig (she/her) is a senior and second-year staffer of the Marquee. In addition to journalism, she spends a lot of time camping and working with her all-girls Scouts BSA troop. She loves blasting music, etsy, drinking coffee and getting to know new people. She’s excited to be editor-in-chief this year and to work with all the staffers to continue the Marquee’s legacy :).  
Hyunsung Na
Hyunsung Na, Online Editor
Hyunsung Na (he/him) is a senior and this is his third year on staff. He’s ready to teach and do his job. He’s forgotten what he really does but he’ll do it and he’ll do it with spunk. He has plenty of spunk and swag. Outside of school, he works at Learning Express, a toy store, where he does the job of an elf. Wrapping. Restocking. Helping. Elf. 
Salma Ali
Salma Ali, Photographer
Salma Ali (she/her)  is a junior but is always mistaken for a freshman .This is also her first year as a staff member on The Marquee. She loves art and anything to do with it and dance and acting as well. Once in a while she enjoys playing lacrosse and soccer. She has lived in Africa since she was 9 years old. She loved living in Africa because it was fun and adventurous and she learned so many things and met so many people she loves. If she can one day she will definitely go back .

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