Trainer Jake Dupree Is Making Sure They’re Not the Last Nonbinary Lingerie Model You See
Nonbinary fitness trainer, burlesque dancer, and model Jake Dupree had long coveted pieces from luxury Australian lingerie company Honey Birdette and “dreamt that one day I could somehow be reposted by them or be one of their models,” Dupree tells POPSUGAR.
So in 2020, when Dupree started to gain more of a social media following, they decided to slide into the brand’s DMs to “[shoot] my delusional shot,” they say. It worked: the brand agreed to send Dupree some pieces, and the relationship grew from there. “The fact that that has become a reality is truly wild to me,” says Dupree, who’s also a trainer on the POPSUGAR Fitness Class Fitsugar YouTube series. “The people they typically post are cis women. I honestly did not know if they would ever take the risk of posting someone like me.”
“Everyone should be able to wear what they want to wear and feel confident and happy. It isn’t taking anything from anyone to be able to do just that and represent that.”
The partnership was a dream come true – that is, until this year, when a photo of Dupree in the brand’s lingerie nearly broke the internet.
On March 31, the International Transgender Day of Visibility, Dupree shared a few photos on Instagram from a shoot with the brand’s lingerie, announcing that they’d landed a spot on stage at legendary cabaret club Crazy Horse Paris as its first-ever nonbinary performer. Honey Birdette reposted the photos to its own Instagram feed on April 11, and the comments section was immediately overrun with haters who couldn’t fathom seeing a nonbinary person in lingerie.
The brand responded, updating their caption to add: “Honey Birdette fosters an inclusive and diverse environment, and we will continue to use our voice to empower and support the LGBTQ+ community, women, and anyone who wants to feel fabulous in our lingerie. While thoughtful and constructive discussions are important to push culture forward, hate speech and bullying will not be tolerated on our channels. Comments of this negative nature will be deleted. @jakedupree, you are so talented and have our full support!” Unfortunately, that didn’t stop outspoken, hateful users who threatened Dupree’s life and the lives of their family members. The brand eventually disabled comments on the post.
Dupree says they knew this would happen. They’ve seen this sort of response before, including when British lingerie brand Playful Promises reposted a photo of theirs in 2020 – but this time, it was escalating to a whole new level that they found to be both “outrageous and scary.”
“When I found out a few weeks prior that Honey Birdette was going to repost my photos, I made sure to say, ‘Please be aware that some of the comments will be strongly against me.’ As a lingerie brand, there can obviously be controversy because of the images showing a lot of skin; however, when queer people and queer bodies are being showcased it takes that to a different place,” Dupree says. “We are in a time right now where there are laws trying to eradicate trans people and queer people and performers. People are currently even more adamant about demonizing us and want us to be gone completely.”
It’s true that lawmakers are introducing unprecedented antitrans and antidrag legislation, and the safety of trans and queer Americans is under threat. That’s made even more clear by the cyberbullying that Dupree and Honey Birdette have faced, as well as other queer voices like trans activist and content creator Dylan Mulvaney, who recently came under fire for partnering with Bud Light and Nike.
Dupree says they’re heartened by the brand’s support. “I was really proud of Honey Birdette for posting me in the first place, and I was happy they stood behind that decision and even changed their brand messaging to be ‘lingerie for all,'” Dupree says. “Everyone should be able to wear what they want to wear and feel confident and happy. It isn’t taking anything from anyone to be able to do just that and represent that.
“I think it’s extremely important for brands like Honey Birdette to use diverse models: every skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, and all different sizes and shapes. It’s important for people to see themselves represented. People look so many different ways, and all of that is beautiful and important and valuable. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be inclusive of all types of people.”
On April 12, one day after Honey Birdette’s contested post when up on Instagram, Dupree posted another photo from the shoot, writing: “Days like this are tough, but I’m tougher.” Though there was a horrific amount of bigotry thrown at Dupree, there was also, thankfully, a lot of support. “I heard from so many of you, and I genuinely appreciate all your kind words . . . and some funny comebacks that really made me laugh. Putting yourself out there is always open to criticism and differing opinions, but I think there’s a kinder, more understanding bridge to be built between those differences.”
Despite the negativity thrown their way, Dupree refuses to step out of the spotlight. And in case you (or any of the naysayers) were wondering? Dupree’s debut at Crazy Horse Paris went very well, thank you very much. “Last night at the @crazyhorseparis_official was genuinely one of the best nights of my life,” Dupree shared on Instagram. “Thank you to the entire crew, cast, and creatives behind this incredible show! I felt so loved and supported. I feel honored to be the first non-binary performer on that iconic stage! It went exactly how I imagined it would, and I am really proud of myself.”
And Dupree says they’re dedicated to making sure the door stays open behind them. “The LGBTQ+ community is beautiful and valuable, and I want to ensure that we are protected by all of the brands who are inclusive of us,” Dupree tells POPSUGAR. “I love getting to be a person who breaks down these walls and challenges the norms, but I am making sure I will not be the last. Also I am for damn sure making sure they will be more protected!”