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Capturing Queer Culture

The medium of photography is great for capturing our own personal life experiences, as well as a way of starting to understand and appreciate the experiences of others. We wanted to show you some photographers' work which document different aspects and experiences of queer culture. We hope you enjoy the imagery but also learn a little more about the context and intention behind each of these powerful community projects.

1. Gustavo Lopes's Riis is Burning

Gustavo Lopes is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY, but was born and raised in Brazil. Riis is a public beach and park in Queens, NY. The area is a well-established meeting point for people in the LGBTQ+ community, and has been for decades. Lopes wanted to photograph beachgoers and make this zine to show the diverse nature of people who assemble here - people of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds. The subjects are strangers. Through these images, we can truly feel the sense of freedom and joy that subjects feel, just by being themselves and being amongst their chosen family. You can find the full zine on Lopes's website here.

2. Jon Shard's Flesh at the Haçienda

The Haçienda is a cornerstone of Manchester's nightlife culture and the house music scene in the 1980s and 90s. Those who frequented the club most-often reflect on their experiences there with a heavy sense of nostalgia. The establishment is also associated with a somewhat legendary enigma status, similar to that of Studio 54 in New York. The club attracted all types of people, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community. Shard captured partiers at a mid-week night at the club called Flesh, which was organised by promoters in October 1991, in an attempt to reverse the club's decline due to it being a magnet for gang activity. Flesh quickly became one of the biggest gay club nights in Europe.

3. Bex Wade's portrait series on NHS waiting lists for gender-affirming surgery for trans and non-binary people.

Bex Wade has interviewed multiple trans masculine and non-binary people to get their insight on the struggles they have encountered with the healthcare system in the UK - the long waiting lists for surgeries, inadequate mental health support during the pandemic. To accompany these interviews, Wade captured their interviewees in a sensitive, realistic and empowering way.

4. Sophia Emmerich's Gender Fluidity

This photo is of five queer people, sat and resting their arms on each other, shot in a studio with a brown background. From left to right: a person with shoulder length blue hair wears a blue jumpsuit and rests their head on the person next to them, who has a medium skin tone, a large dark afro and wears a pale pink suit with a strawberry brooch on the pocket. Behind them is a person with pale skin and long, dark, curly hair, wearing a sheer orange shirt. One of their hands is raised and the other rests on the shoulder of the person to their right, who has medium dark skin, a short, dark afro, a moustache and goatee. They wear a lavender suit with no shirt and their dark chest hair is visible. Their hand rests on the shoulder of the person sat below them, who has tanned skin, dark, curly hair and wears a white top.

Some words on the project from Sophia herself: "These photographs were made by a fully LGBTQIA+ team and everyone on set had a taste of this vision. Here we see the magic that happens when a group of queer people create something that is by them, and for them. The key to liberation doesn’t lie amongst rainbows and flags, it sits in the hand of every person who has a privilege that another does not, and it is our duty to take this key and unlock every door until the wind of change blows freely through."

Credits for Gender Fluidity:

BRIANNA, they/she @barinatsarina ​EVE, she/they @eve_beucher ​JOSEPHINE, she/they @josephines030 ​MELON, she/they @fe.male.dragon ​THESIS, any pronouns @syn__thesis ​Photography by Sophia Emmerich, she/they @sophia.emmerich ​Art Direction by Cora Hamilton, they/them @coraefhamilton and Sophia Emmerich Photo Assistance by Sam Arndt, he/him @sam121291 ​Set Design by Carolina Restrepo, she/her @livingfortomato ​Styling by Christo Nakos, he/him @christonakos ​Styling Assistance by Nida, she/her @nyyydl ​Hair and Makeup by CrisToni Florido Acosta, any pronouns @jupita322 ​Agency @wirsinduns


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