Posts in Photography
All Gays Go to Heaven
 

By tanea lunsford lynx

uncle-rodney-1

We passed each other under the veil.

In heaven, he’s doing backspins and practicing footwork to a house remix of Minnie Ripperton’s “Inside My Love” while smoking a joint intermittently. My uncle Rodney died of AIDS-related illness exactly four months before I was born. The truth is that he’s also everywhere.

He was his father’s favorite son.

Growing up, I didn’t know much about him except that he died early. As I got older, more truth began to be casually fed to me. Information is a rite of passage in my family. When I went to college, I was given more access, to conversations that I’d never entered. Every sentence about my uncle Rodney seemed to start in the middle.

He danced at the discos in North Beach until morning. Ultimately he moved back into his parent’s house with his boyfriend before getting sick.

Uncle Rodney 2.jpg

In his twenties, my uncle Rodney married a woman, a friend of his mother’s, who offered to pay for the marriage to help her citizenship. He had already been out as gay to many of his family and friends but walked a cognitive dissonance line with his parents. To retain his title as favorite son, Rodney obliged his parents and legally married a woman. It was clear the two weren’t a couple, but Rodney’s parents tried to re-write his legacy after his death.

He was a geometry whiz and an intellectual. A trickster who replaced his father’s diet coke with real coke when he was angry with him. He was a nerd who threw tantrums when he got a 3.9 gpa. He grew weed in the windowsill of our family house in San Francisco’s Lakeview, telling his mother (an Afro-filipina who migrated from Subic Bay to San Francisco after the japanese occupation of the island) that it was an “experiment for school”.

I came out to my family after college. I didn’t know how my family would respond about my queerness when I moved back home. Homophobic language was a norm for certain households in my family. Meanwhile, at five years old, I began noticing my delight and confusion, desiring other girls. Girl-queerness was an oddity not discussed outside of Halloween and Pride events in the Castro. I looked forward to attending, closeted.

I came out like this: one day I called my mother shaking, asking for her advice. I began by saying I had a date (a lie.) and needed help choosing an outfit (another lie. Like my uncle Rodney, I’ve always been fabulous with an outfit). I went on to mention that my date was a woman. I said I needed more advice. “About what? What’s the issue?” my stomach turned thinking that maybe she hadn’t heard me correctly. “Well, I’m afraid about what grandma will say about me dating a girl.” (not a complete lie.) It was my way of steering my mother toward the reaction and affirmation I needed from her. I knew that naming my abandonment or rejection would provoke fierce support. I was in tears before we got off the phone.

“Don’t let nobody tell you how to live your life. You make yourself happy. That’s the most important. You are phenomenal and you deserve to be happy.” I cried for a long time after hanging up. I’ve been building a home for myself in my own little queer heaven, ever since.

He had a smart mouth and a quick wit and a huge heart.

When I learned about ancestral worship and healing, I was offered a place to sit finally through the practice of ceremony, altar building, and prayer, after running forever. Before learning about the practice, I’d always felt guided and protected but I didn’t have the understanding to extract meaning from situations that often left me feeling lucky/cursed, sensitive/psychic, and crazy/weird.

Uncle Rodney 3.jpg

If he were still here, he’d be fighting for his rights.

After my practice developed, I was called by spirit to visit my uncle’s grave. He is buried beside his mother (my great-grandmother), his father, and his sister in a family plot near Half Moon Bay. I read the simple headstone marker for uncle Rodney, “Beloved Husband”. I began to fume. I couldn’t unwind the screws smoothed deep into the placard. I sat for a long time at his grave, trying to fathom why his parents chose this marker for him. I was furious at the erasure of my uncle as a gay man. Were they ashamed of his queerness? Fearful of his fate as a gay man? Afraid he would go to hell because he was gay?

Didn’t they know that all gays go to heaven?

I’m working to create a place where we belong. Even if just in this body at this moment. Heaven. I hope Rodney has glimpses of his own, wearing a handkerchief in his back pocket, finally leaning into the natural sway of his hips, sliding vaseline across his lips, skipping down the back stairs two at a time to get to a party after everyone went to bed, wrapping his arms around the necks of lovers. He feels it as I do now, draping my legs on the side of a wide-backed chair, dancing in shorts and long socks to Chaka Khan in my living room, going outside in my suit and tie or my too-short dress and forgetting my knife at home.

It’s all heaven. Each act of pleasure, madness, throat-exposed joy allows me to see my uncle Rodney more clearly in heaven, among all the other gays where he belongs: Where none of us has to wait in the bathroom line. Where the morning music greets us and our afros are even on all sides. And someone speaks in our register above the oblivious heads of the normative, offering us a corner mouth smile, a corner seat on the couch, their heavy head on our shoulder in a sigh accented with love. Where the warm wind dries the sweat on our necks and the day unfolding feels like infinite possibility instead of labor, again. Heaven is a second chance at living in joy. It’s in the ethers. In the blood we share.

Joy is our job. We do it and carry it for all of those who came before us, who couldn’t in their lifetime. We made a pact when we crossed under the veil.


NOTE

*I’ve used ‘gays’ here because my uncle Rodney identified as gay among his close friends, chosen family, and loved ones when he was alive. He lived much of his life closeted and being able to be out and gay among trusted people and community was really special to him. During his lifetime identities such as ‘queer’ were still in the process of being reclaimed. I’m not sure how he would identify himself if he were alive today, but it brings me much joy to think about it.

tanea lunsford lynx

tanea lunsford lynx

Tanea Lunsford Lynx is a writer, abolitionist, and fourth generation Black San Franciscan on both sides. Tanea is a proud alum of Voices of Our Nation (VONA) and the Lambda Literary Retreat. In 2018 she co-curated 'Still Here VI: Existence as Resistance', a performance featuring queer Black San Franciscans as a part of the National Queer Arts Festival. Tanea has been awarded residency at Mesa Refuge, the Rising Voices Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center, Ox-Bow, the Erica Landis Scholarship at Squaw Valley Community of Writers, RADAR's Show Us Your Spines in collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library and the Grace Paley Fellowship at Under the Volcano. Her work is published in Foglifter, the Lambda Literary Anthology, Nat. Brut, Argot Magazine and in "Nothing to Lose But Our Chains: Black Voices on Activism, Resistance, and Love". She has more than 10 years of experience as a performing artist, curator, activist and educator in San Francisco.

 
Love Stories
 

By Matilde Viegas

As a woman — and as a queer woman — I live with the constant awareness of my own representation in society. Just by stepping out of the house, I am committing a political act. For myself, as for so many other queer people, the privacy of our homes works as a shelter — a place where one can fully be oneself. With the series Love Stories, I want to trace the small moments of affection in day ­to ­day existence, highlighting the commonness of the lives of queer couples and how intimacy and connection are common denominators to all kinds of loving relationships, regardless of societal classifications and constructs.

 

Matilde Viegas

Matilde Viegas

Matilde Viegas is a 28 year old self taught photographer based in Porto, Portugal. She didn’t go to art school and that has allowed her to explore her own path. She’s documented her friends’ lives, her own, and even her mother’s. She focuses on intimacy, womanhood and community. She has self published fanzines and a recent book. Her work has been featured in Die Zeit, Lenscratch, Vice pt, Vogue pt, among others.

In August 2018, she was a recipient for a scholarship to attend Elinor Carucci’s workshop Finding Intimacy in nyc, awarded by Spazio Labo. In February 2019, she was awarded a grant by Zeitenspiegel to work alongside with the journalist Viktoria Morasch, in Kazakhstan.

Pur·suit

By Naima Green

I don’t want the thinkers and the makers - the people who are uplifting and working for our community right now – I don’t want their voices to be lost.
— Naima Green

Pur·suit represents a missing data set (1). Artist and researcher, Mimi Onuoha describes our living through a time of “unprecedented data collection,” and yet even with the over-collection of data there continue to be gaps of information – what she calls “blank spots in the data ecosystem... spaces that are curiously devoid of data.” Pur·suit is in the interest of queer and trans people, of people of color, and of groups that continue to be marginalized. In its physical form, it’s a 54 card deck with portraits of queer womxn, trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people. It helps complete an image of the world that we live in.

In its digital form, depictions of over 100 people will comprise the first stage of a digital archive created to expand and preserve narratives of queerness and its many evolving identities. Offering a glimpse into complex worlds through photographs, letters, poems, and audio clips the archive will create space for folks to share themselves however they choose.

Footnote 1. http://mimionuoha.com/thoughts/2015/11/15/missing-datasets

Why?

I stumbled upon Catherine Opie’s Dyke Deck at the New York Public Library while doing research for my MFA thesis, All the black language. Dyke Deck is a set of poker cards that playfully looks into the lives and performances of 90s lesbians. After ordering a deck, I combed through each card curious as to why I had never seen or been taught about this work. It was made between 1990 and 1995 in the Bay Area through an open call casting. The final deck was created through a partnership between Opie and MoCA Los Angeles. By 2017, the deck felt both new and old, still radical and iconic. I knew it would find a place in my own work as I wanted to add to the ethos of queer cultures. With Opie’s blessing, I embarked on reimagining the Dyke Deck into a 2018 East Coast experience.

Pur·suit is a celebration of queer communities. I want to reflect my queer community, comprised mostly of women of color, and how our experiences are (or most often are not) represented. I continue to think about how our communities are named and by whom. In Brooklyn, I’m fortunate to see queer families, partnerships, and friendships of all kinds on a daily basis. I’m also reminded that our community is an oasis. It is my hope that Pur·suit can be that for all who use these cards; that it will serve as a reminder of queer faces and experiences, play, love, and a testimony that we are here.


Featured Images (left to right):

  1. Naima Green, Jenna, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.

  2. Naima Green, Vanessa for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.

  3. Naima Green, River, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.

  4. Naima Green, Angel + Shira, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.

  5. Naima Green, Karen, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.

  6. Naima Green, Muna for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.

  7. Naima Green, Yên for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.

  8. Naima Green, Megan for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.

  9. Naima Green, J.S. for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.

  10. Naima Green, Ciarra for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.

  11. Naima Green, Yunique, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.


Portrait of Naima Green by David Joseph.

Portrait of Naima Green by David Joseph.

Naima Green is a visual artist and educator currently living in Mexico City. She holds an M.F.A in Advanced Photographic Studies from ICP–Bard, an M.A. in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Urban Studies and Sociology from Barnard College. Green presented two solo exhibitions in 2018 – All the black language and A Collective Utterance. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, MASS MoCA, the International Center of Photography, Houston Center for Photography, Bronx Museum, BRIC, Arsenal Gallery, and Macy Gallery. Green has participated in residencies at the Bronx Museum, MASS MoCA, Vermont Studio Center, and is the recipient of the Myers Art Prize at Columbia University.

Her artist books are collected by the MoMA and International Center of Photography Libraries.

Green’s work has been published in Artsy, Arts.Black, Cultured, The Fader, Feature Shoot, Frontrunner Magazine, Hyperallergic, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Nylon, Spot Magazine, and SPOOK, amongst others.

Pur·suit is a deck of a playing cards and a forthcoming archive of queer womxn, non-binary, trans and gender nonconforming people.

Website: naimagreen.com
IG: @naimagreen
Twitter: @naimapatrice

Momentos
 

by Mari S.M. and Andrea S.H.

Momentos is a project that deals with the theme of intimacy in the context of our lesbian affective-sexual relationship. We want to share with everyone some moments we have lived before meeting. Moments captured in various photos taken during our different stages while growing up. These memories, materialized in the form of photographs and previously shared during our nocturnal outings while eating salchipapas or a delicious pork cutlet at Namu (a local South Korean restaurant), transport us and help us get closer to a better understanding of each other. For this project we have chosen to dig into our memories. To materialize it we have chosen 10 old photos from a time before we had met each other, 5 of Andrea and 5 of Mari. We have then proceeded to make photomontages using digital media (a scanner and photoshop) to bring together our past selves in a single image.

Mari: My work explores the themes of memory and the quotidian through a lens informed by lived experience. My creative process involves the mixing of elements that belong to the realm of the magical, fantastical and fictitious, with biographical events and retellings of past happenings. I use various forms of self-expression including writing, digital media, photography, or a mix of all three.

Andrea: My work explores the themes of memory, the quotidian, and the urban scenery. My interests are the city of Lima, the transiting of its people and their customs, which I portray through diverse media including photography, drawing, collages and painting. Through my work I create a way for me to reflect upon the way we are pushed to live our lives always in a hurry, missing various moments throughout our journeys.

*This project was shown at Oficina M-20, an office/art space in downtown Lima, Peru from April 4 to April 18, 2019.

 

Portrait of Andrea by Mari

Portrait of Andrea by Mari

Andrea S. H. is a Peruvian graphic designer and visual artist. She has a background in printmaking and painting but mostly works with digital media to create. She likes exploring the themes of memory, fragility and the ways we move around in the city, being it Lima or anywhere else in the world. She currently works as a freelancer.

Instagram: @moshirobeibi

Portrait of Mari by Andrea

Portrait of Mari by Andrea

Mari S. M. is an interdisciplinary self-taught Peruvian proto writer who also likes to experiment with digital media to create visual pieces. She likes to explore the themes of memory, ancestry and identity. She is a co-founder and editor in chief of La Liga Zine (September 2015), a NALAC Fund for the Arts 2016 grantee publication with an all Latina immigrant staff. The zine has been featured in Remezcla, i-D Magazine, Dazed & Confused Magazine, LA Weekly, among other media outlets.

Instagram: @cahuachi5

Westchester Drag
 

By Sofie Vasquez

Westchester Drag is a documentary black and white photo series about the drag renaissance happening in the cities of Yonkers and Mount Vernon in Westchester County, New York.

The town of Westchester is traditionally characterized as a conservative, upper-class county and this erases the prominent queer POC presence, especially in the cities of Yonkers and Mount Vernon where the Mexican-Cuban restaurant Guapos and Brazilian-Venezuelan restaurant The Alamo hosts weekly/bi-weekly drag shows - a first for Westchester as visibility for the queer community continues to emerge from the shadows.


Sofie Vasquez

Sofie Vasquez

Sofie Vasquez (b. 1998) is an Ecuadorian-American documentary photographer born and raised in The Bronx, New York. Her artwork explores the mediums of photography, filmmaking, and journalism with a focus on expressing narratives about identity, community, and culture. Her work has been featured in The New York Times and exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Bronx Documentary Center, and the Ecuadorian-American Cultural Center in Queens, New York. She is currently a fellow at the International Center of Photography.