Comprised of 69 unique collaborations across queer communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hues is an exploration into themes of cultural heritage and queer visibility, inverting the role of the photographer as I join each participant in front of the camera.
I began this work in 2017, in the face of Donald Trump’s overtly discriminatory proclamations about immigrants, by developing a form of participatory portraiture considering the impact of personal lineages on the shaping of queer histories. The work juxtaposes contrasting manifestations of queerness, taking into account the intersections of homophobic, gender, and racialized oppressions.
My presence strives for an active message of empathy and connection outside the recurrent tropes of the othering gaze so often associated to depictions of queer people. My inclusion also reflects aspects of my own conservative upbringing dominated by religious moral values, in which I frequently felt psychologically oppressed by the public display of violent masculinity and the lack of positive queer role models.
During meetings with each collaborator, we discussed our ancestries, familial friction, and a shared trauma of not belonging. We imagined ways queer representations can express an evolving sense of empowerment to act as a catalyst for social change.
Once we decided to stage a photograph, we intentionally planned its content, costumes, and color scheme.