Party Goals: International Edition

Put in your vacay request, dust off your passport, and stock up on vitamins. Lots of vitamins. There’s a big wide world of LGBTQ parties you need to see to believe, and the list below should be more than enough to help you rack up frequent flyer miles and hazy memories for all of 2017. How many are you down for?

Easter Berlin, Germany: April 12th – 18th 2017

Well established as one Europe’s biggest leather and fetish weeks with a range of parties and events across the city. Our tip – check out Woof!

www.easterberlin.de

Dragcon, Los Angeles, USA: April 29th & 30th 2017

With Rupaul mania approaching maximum world domination, this is the holy grail of all things Drag while mingling with the superstars of the show.

www.rupaulsdragcon.com

World Out Games, Miami, USA: May 26th – June 4th 2017

Held every 4 years, Miami hosts thousands of participants at more than 450 events covering sport, culture, and human rights. They aim to stimulate debate through emotional, competitive, and intellectual events. And maybe a dance party or two.

www.outgames.org

Korean Queer Culture Festival, Seoul, Korea: June 2017

With just 50 attendees in 2001, Seoul now hosts over 15,000, making it one of the largest LGBT events in Asia. In addition to the political angle, the event places heavy emphasis on art and culture to pack in even bigger audiences.

www.kqcf.org/xe/english

Queer Arts Festival, Vancouver, Canada: June 20th & 21st 2017

Pushing the boundaries of queer modern art, Vancouver’s QAF aims to curate challenging, thought-provoking work that pushes boundaries and initiates dialogue. Buckle up.

www.queerartsfestival.com

World Pride, Madrid, Spain: June 23rd – July 2nd 2017

Fact: The Spanish know how to party, and this summer they’re celebrating 40 years since the first pride parade in Spain. Madrid hosts with a action-packed schedule of jaw-dropping parties, open air concerts, sport events, and more.

www.madridorgullo.com

Brighton Pride Festival, UK: August 4th – 6th 2017

The UK’s largest gay pride festival has an impressive line-up this year including Pet Shop Boys (still going strong) and Years Years.

www.brighton-pride.org

Bear Week Sites, Spain: September 1st – 11th 2017

The picturesque coastal town of Sitges, just 30 minutes from Barcelona, turns into a gay mecca in the summer months with Bears Week rounding off the season.Insert bear hunting joke here.

www.bearssitgesclub.org

Homotopia, Liverpool, UK: November 2017

Now in its 14th year, Homotopia showcases an impressive queer art scene in the UK’s cultural melting pot that is Liverpool.

www.homotopia.net

And because it’s never too early to plan ahead….

Sydney Mardi Gras, Australia: March 3rd, 2018

An institution, Sydney’s vibrant, balls-out crazy celebration celebrates its 40th Anniversary next year. You can’t miss this. No, you just can’t.

www.mardigras.org.au

Special thanks to Oliver Broad from travel agency RB Collection for giving us the low-down.

10 Best Ways to Escape a Bad Date

Like it or not, most of us are going to endure a dud date during our Grindr escapades. So comedian Dom Top took some time out of his busy schedule of pestering men for pics and re-telling jokes stolen from Will & Grace to put together tenways to GTFO of there.

Disclaimer: Not Dom Top, not Grindr, nor anybody else endorses the use of these methods, or do they vouch for their legality or efficacy. Except that last one. You’ll see what we mean.

#1: The Romy (& Michele)

If you’ve ever seen the seminal piece of cinema that is Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (and you SHOULD have), you’ll remember thh2at Mira Sorvino’s Romy comes up with the perfect excuse to 86 a bad date. Upon learning that her gentleman caller is a suit salesman, Romy declares that she has sliced her foot open and her toes are now swimming in a pump’s worth of sangre. Then she hobbles away dragging her leg for authenticity, leaving Men’s Wearhouse far behind her. It’s hard to argue with a performance THAT committed.

#2: Start a Small Fire

Now let’s be clear, a SMALL fire. Like a napkin or a floral arrangement on the table. Easily started with a tealight candle and put out with a dishrag. You just need something disruptive enough to distract the dud while you bolt for the door. If you’re lacking anything flammable, a viable alternative is to discharge a fire extinguisher. It should provide a big enough cloud of foam to obscure your exit á la every cartoon villain ever.

#3: Start Stanning for Your Diva

This can go two ways. Either your not-so-great date will be bored stiff by your fanatical ramblings about Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories Tour” or Britney’s scrapped David LaChapelle video and peace-out of the date himself. OR he could geek out and start collectively stanning with you, in which case you may have just found your soulmate. Or at least someone to practice dance routines with. It’s a win-win!

#4: Sing. Right. At. Him.

This may not work in a karaoke bar. But if your first date is at a karaoke bar, you’ve got problems already. Hopefully, pushing your mug right up against his and warbling “The Rainbow Connection” is likely to cut a slow night delightfully short. Unless, of course, you are an undiscovered siren/chanteuse, in which case you might steal his heart. From what we understand, that seemed to work for Emma Stone in La La Land.


#5: Toilet Talk

Generally speaking, emerging from the bathroom and announcing the size, shape, and consistency of whatever you produced in there is considered a dating faux-pas. However in some cases it might bring you closer together. If that’s the case, good for you both! No kink-shaming here, everybody’s got their something. I guess.

#6: Get on Grindr

Not feeling the date? Log in to the world’s greatest gay social app and find yourself another, right there and then. #shamelessselfpromotion

#7: Text Them

Make a humiliating phone fuck-up work for you. We’ve all sent the wrong text to someone, from telling your best friend that you just waxed your ass to informing your parents that you hooked up in a club bathroom. So why not twist it to your advantage? Simply sending something along the lines of “Have you disposed of the body?” followed by “SORRY WRONG PERSON” should get you out of there pretty swiftly. Even if it does mean being hauled in for questioning after.

#8: Kill aRelative

FIGURATIVELY. A death in the family is a time-honored and almost irrefutable excuse for worming your way out of undesirable situations. Just remember who you killed the next time you bump into your dud at the mini-mart. ProTip: the best uses of this lie usually involve an already-deceased person. See, they did die just not… recently.

#9: Drink Everything (responsibly)

Sometimes the only solution is to order up two bottles of wine and just suck ‘em down. Then do some shots. Then drink the mouthwash offered to you by the bathroomattendant. Either your date will become infinitely more appealing post-Pinot binge or he’ll be so appalled at your hot-mess-sloppy-drunk shenanigans that he’ll retreat. Just don’t forget to order yourself an Uber home first.

#10: Be Honest

Okay, so, maybe this one isn’t quite as dramatic (and we know some of you just LIVE for the drama) but it’s probably the best option. If you don’t feel the spark, it’s likely that he doesn’t feel it either. Even if he does, better you don’t waste any more of his time, right? He’s looking for the right guy just like you are. Who knows? Maybe you’ll bond over that. Without the stress of searching for a romantic or sexual connection, you might just make a new friend. Still, even if you don’t at least you can have a drink, head home with your head held high and know that your conscience is clear. Tomorrow you can hop back on Grindr and find another date, right?

Turning Shame Into Pride

Why do we hold Pride parades?

I get this question a lot. Sometimes the question comes from people outside our communities, but more often, it’s from folks who are themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Occasionally it’s even aggressive, betraying that the speaker believes the speedos and leather and drag dotting the crowds somehow constitute participation in our own oppression. What’s clear to me in these cases is that the person is asking from a place of shame. And it’s tough to know how to respond because that shame is the exact thing we’re marching against.

Most of us don’t grow up with parents who share our sexual orientation or gender identity. For many, we may not have had any visible role models at all. We don’t come up learning that the ways we love and fuck and form families are contemporary manifestations of histories and cultures that are themselves as old as humanity. And, as a result, too many of us never learn that we, as LGBTQ people, are just as worthy of love and belonging as everyone else.

For me, what makes shame easiest to understand is placing it next to another feeling—not pride in this case, but guilt. Guilt is what we feel when we’ve done something wrong and we assign that error to our actions. Shame, by contrast, is when we turn against ourselves. In that case, we say—and, on some level, believe—that not only were our actions wrong, but we are inherently wrong because of them.

The stakes here are shockingly high. Consider the work of Brené Brown, our country’s leading researcher on the subject. Brené has documented how high levels of shame are correlated with many of the things that destroy our lives, from addiction, to depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and aggression.

What makes this even more difficult is that we don’t just experience these feelings on an individual level. When we haven’t learned to love ourselves—and often even when we have spent years working towards that—we may be prone to feeling shame at the community level. The actions of others who share our sexuality, nationality, hometown, or last name may leave us feeling humiliated and self-hating. So seeing a drag queen or a motorcycle dyke out on the street during Pride Month reminds many of us that we’re not so sure we like being queer and that, deep inside, we’re not so sure we like ourselves at all.

My intention in writing this is not to shame those who are uncomfortable with pride. The truth is that almost all of us have felt something like that at some point in our lives and it isn’t an indication that we’re defective. My recommendation to everyone looking at these photos from the long history of our marches is actually to get more deeply in touch with the memories of that discomfort, whether we had it at a march or in a gay bar or any other LGBTQ space. Sitting with that feeling can be instructive and ultimately transform ourselves into our own best teachers.

When I feel shame, my heart beats faster and my brain starts buzzing. I start over-performing and seeking the praise of others to give me some sense of relief. But the bodily experience of shame is different for each of us and learning our unique manifestations is the first key step in building our ability to cope.

Brené Brown says one of her greatest goals is to start a national conversation about shame. For our part, many LGBTQ communities around the world have been having that conversation, marching in these parades for all these years. The pride we cultivate in these spaces may never fully take the place of our shame, but the more time we spend with the feeling, the dimmer it becomes.

Jack Harrison-Quintana is Director of Grindr For Equality for Grindr and was recently named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business.

The 10 Gayest Pokémon

Tentacruel

Ever felt an unwanted hand trying to cup your butt as you wait for the barman to notice your kind smile, or trying to slip a digit down the back of your pants on the dancefloor? That’s ol’ Tentacruel, using his ooze ability to creep out everyone in the area with his total disregard for personal space and consent. Starting life as the clueless Tentacool, he evolves into the far-sleazier Tentacruel after everybody feels too awkward to tell him that his gropey behavior is not ok. The only way to deal with Tentacruel is a very public dressing down over his uninvited touching. Though a drink over the head can sometimes prove almost as effective.

Jigglypuff

We all know a Jigglypuff. They’re the star of their own show, and the rest of us are merely the dowdy viewers. In their mind, Jigglypuff is the best singer on the planet and will demonstrate this fact at any given moment – whether you want them to or not. Usually found lurking around cabaret bars, karaoke machines, and The Voice auditions, they take any opportunity to belt out numbers like “Seasons of Love” from Rent or Beyonce’s “Listen”. Sadly, although Jigglypuff is a cute little blue-eyed Bel Ami twinky thing, they are Kardashian-level overexposed. Their repeated attempts to hog the limelight now induce extreme boredom, meaning their crooning has the power to put most people to sleep. Or at least invoke total disinterest. Sorry, babe.

Machop

Remember your first day at the gym? You rolled up with your brand new gym bag, ES collection shorts, water bottle, and yoga mat and looked upon the vast range of man mountains pumping iron. And then you looked at yourself in the mirror. You were Machop. We have all been Machop.

Machoke

However, if you managed to steel yourself, stay disciplined, and WERQ hard at the gym, chances are you evolved into Machoke. Strong, lean, muscular, and a total show-off. Ah well, you earned it honey. If you didn’t tough it out at the gym, you probably know and hate a Machoke. Fit bastards.

Pikachu

Petite blonde pequeño Pikachu is queen of the temper tantrum. When their daddy (paternal and/or sugar) refuses to fork out the cash for that shiny new Poké Ball, you better batten down the hatches. Pika’s fit of pique is unlike any you’ve seen before. What once looked like an innocent ball of flip-flop-fuck-fun is now a REAL pocket monster. Friends, sales assistants, waiters, and even family members don’t stand a chance against the explosive scenes this bombshell can create. Best to keep them happy with a monthly allowance, daddy.

Clefairy

Clefairy came out a lot later than you. Once an unhappily-married blue-collar worker, he took the bold step to live his truth later in life. Sweet, friendly, and a little bit naïve, everybody has a soft spot for him. The fact that he has an awesome apartment with a fully stocked bar doesn’t hurt either. Known for his retreats to the mountains, Clefairy will even take you to Aspen for a skiing weekend. Just don’t mess him around on him. He’s got a good heart.

Jynx

Classic butch queen in drag for the first time. And she’s clearly had a couple of Appletinis to help her work up the courage…

Eevee/Flareon/Vaporeon/Jolteon

Here come the fashion queens. Cute-as-a-button pup Eevee has got big dreams of making it in the design world, so he heads to the big (Cerulean) city to start an unpaid internship at DKNY. Fast-forward four years and Eevee is still broke, still living in a tiny apartment and still interning. But boy, has he evolved… well, evolved his look. And don’t call him Eevee anymore, thanks. It’s Vaporeon.

Until the seapunk trend is over and then it’s Jolteon.

No wait, Pikachu’s doing the electric block colorlook. Okay, hmmm… he’s got it! He’s Flareon.

How appropriate. Look for him doing the guest list at an undergrad fashion show and adding “tastemaker” to his Insta bio any day now. Gurrrrrrl.

Brock

Yes, we know he’s a trainer and not a Pokemon. But he’s SO HOT. And he has a huge, rock hard creature in his Pokeball, Onix. So if you want to get precious, Onix is pretty much as gay as it gets. But our hearts belong to Brock. Thattan, those squinty little eyes, that voice… Brock our world. Oh, and this little treat….

That is one lucky tree…thing.

Jessie & James

Okay, so even though these two aren’t technically Pokemon either, they’re camp-as-hell bumbling Poke-villains. But do you wanna try telling usthat they aren’t the ultimate fag and hag pairing? They have matching outfits, they get their hair dyed together, they even have their own rhymes and slogans. Jessie probably had a crush on James through grade school and James probably told his mother Jessie was his girlfriend in college. But it all worked out for the best and now they’re roommates. They’ve even got a cat together, for Christ’s sake. Meowth! That’s right!

We Are All Queens

“We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”

These are the iconic words of RuPaul, an entertainer whose ‘Drag Race’ franchise took the art of deconstructing gender to a global platform. The recently-premiered ninth season has already received praise for being the first to feature an openly trans woman – although previous seasons have featured trans contestants they have always ‘come out’ (often in dramatic, emotional scenes) midway through their season, meaning that Peppermint’s immediate openness concerning her gender identity makes her a welcome first for the franchise. There are, however, no cisgender female queens; a glaring omission which falsely insinuates that drag is for men only.

By contrast, drag is a visual parody of the false assumption that gender is as simple as ‘male’ and ‘female’. It is proof that any of us – with the right amount of hair, make-up, costume, prosthetics and performance – can create exaggerated, hyper-real personas which highlight the ways in which we all ‘perform’ our gender identity on the daily. It’s a practice open to anyone, but one which has been historically dominated by men.

Ironically, the origins of drag in theatre can be traced back to a desire to prevent women from being on stage – male performers in Shakespearean times would drag up to play female roles, but other cultures were also experimenting with gendered roles in theatre; geisha (initially a male-only profession) and kabuki actors would often play their opposites, leading to a confused yet enraptured audience.

Drag has continuously evolved, but its modern iteration is transforming quicker and more drastically than ever before – as our knowledge of queer identities progresses, so do the drag artists taking centre-stage. Victoria Sin is just one of the many London-based trailblazers paving the way; platinum wigs, oversized breastplates and candy-coloured feathers are all becoming aesthetic signatures of a unique character quickly attracting critical acclaim.

Photo credit:@sinforvictory

Sin’s presence in queer spaces as a drag artist is, however, sometimes questioned, an issue which they have discussed openly on their various social media platforms. When asked about their experiences as a female-bodied POC in a largely male-dominated world, Sin describes a “toxic problem with marginalization”. “Just because you have been the victim of homophobic abuse, doesn’t mean that you can’t stop and think about how what you say or do might be racist, misogynist, transphobic, ableist or classist. There needs to be more listening and more space made for people who are underrepresented within our community.”

Georgie Bee – the reigning Miss Sink The Pink – echoes these sentiments by explaining that she is often groped by men in queer clubs and, on rare occasions, told to her face that her drag isn’t legitimate. She also points to general misogyny, recounting a recent night out on which she heard a man turn to her friend and say “Why are these girls here? They’re disgusting.” Bee spoke to security and he was swiftly kicked out. “I think people are generally afraid of women who are loud, proud and in-your-face – on their terms, not yours”, she says. “The gut reaction of a lot of people is to say ‘you haven’t got a cock, you can’t do it’. I’m here to say that, actually, I can do it.”

Photo credit:@neomagpie

These attitudes are not only harmful, they reinforce ideals which contribute to discrimination. Queer spaces have long been male-dominated, whereas culture more generally has been dominated by masculinity; a domination which means that these intended ‘safe spaces’ can often be hubs of abuse for anyone falling outside the accepted spectrum of masculinity. Many venues reinforce these notions by opening their doors only to men – it’s a problem which has existed for decades and, unfortunately, one which doesn’t seem to be showing any sign of disappearing.

There are, obviously, exceptions to the rule. Some nights are all rooted in an ethos of diversity and inclusivity, but things need to change on a wider level – and fast. Reassuringly, there are enough brilliant drag queens that just happen to be female making their voices heard and using their platforms to spread messages of positivity.

The frequent description of these artists as ‘faux’ queens or ‘bio’ queens, however, unintentionally reinforces the narrative that they are somehow less legitimate than their male counterparts.

Lacey Lou, a England-based queen, is, familiar with this misguided argument. She is, however, quick to highlight how quickly attitudes have already progressed since she first started. “I felt marginalized more at the beginning – Birmingham didn’t have any females with residencies or more public figures to look up to, so people couldn’t grasp it. People would disregard me really, relying on the idea that I wasn’t ‘a real drag queen’. There’s a few of us in Birmingham, so it’s more the norm now – it’s amazing to see!”

Photo Credit:@laceymcfadyen

Despite being constantly asked to justify her legitimacy, she continues to create incredible visual spectacles week after week. Like Victoria Sin, Georgie Bee and handfuls of otherbrilliant female-bodied, Lou is fighting for her space in a male-dominated environment and, crucially, using her platform “to spread love and education – education over ignorance!”

Lovers: São Paulo

Anderson Machado, 25 and Thássio Dias, 21      

Anderson and Thássio: This is a complex issue because it comprises many areas: social, professional, family, etc.

But I think it can be summed up in resistance. Being a gay couple in São Paulo, especially gay and black, it’s like killing a lion a day, or homophobia (when we hold hands on the street we hear that our love is wrong and that it’s an abomination) or racial discrimination (we are often stalked in shops and judged as thieves).

But together we use all of this to be stronger and face a homophobic society. To empower ourselves and resist more and more. Everything we face only gives us more strength to continue being who we are and growing stronger and happier.

Despite the regrets, I believe that compared to other cities, São Paulo is much more gay friendly and I feel freer and safer to express my sexuality in the streets, much more than in cities of the interior. In addition, the city is very plural, presenting a huge range of parties, events, and LGBT- themed or targeted interventions.

Náthalie Louise, 24 and Dandara Fonseca, 22

Náthalie: Dandara and I live on the outskirts of São Paulo. We are practically neighbors. It’s weird to me because the other girls I used to relate to lived far away, so we always found ourselves at the center. Not that there is no lesbophobia in the center, but in the periphery the prejudice is much bigger. In addition, we are a couple of blacks, and because of this, hyper-sexualized. Several times, when we were together, men harassed us in an extremely rude way.

What happens a lot is also that guys think Dandara is ugly – she’s more ‘butch’ and they must think it’s somehow her fault for being with a woman. It’s like they’re saying to me “What are you doing with this dyke?”. On the other side, many people find us a very beautiful couple (I do not speak of aesthetic beauty, but of harmony) and we find strength in each other to face these things.

Iago Alves, 19 and Lucas Vinicius, 19

Iago: Having a gay relationship is not easy in any city. It always has the homophobia issue that weighs heavily everywhere. But I believe living in São Paulo is a privilege since we have several environments created by the LGBT audience for the LGBT audience. So in my view, having an LGBT relationship in São Paulo is better than in other cities in the country, but still we have to be careful because when you are LGBT and maintain a homosexual relationship nowhere is a safe place.

Lucas: It means to have our lives risked because of the frightening numbers of deaths of the LGBT population. Being gay in São Paulo is dangerous and creates daily conflicts against the opinions of others. We need to be strong, to know that we can not stop taking care of ourselves among so many other couples in public. People react differently depending on how open-minded they are.

Isaac Lohan, 20 and Brendon Xavier, 19

Isaac and Brendon: The difficulty of being homosexual will be everywhere, not just in São Paulo. And they will always be the same problems: lack of respect and understanding. People can’t understand homosexuality because most of them have a great freedom of expression when it comes to dressing and acting (which should not be a problem). But as people grew up with a totally macho, hypocritical and religious thought, hatred speaks louder.

We both grew up in Sao Paulo, we are already accustomed to looks, swearing, and humiliation, even in places we should feel safe, like a police station, hospital, or at work.

We are lucky that São Paulo is huge and there are a lot of faggots and dykes, and many friends to spend time with. You can’t walk alone and you have to prepare for the screams that you will hear just by being kissing your boyfriend. Funny, because it is a city that everyone considers as “evolved”. But we’re fine, because in our corner it’s just joy.

Raphaël Rodrigues, 26 and Kevin David, 23

Raphäel and Kevin: Having a gay relationship in São Paulo is complicated because of the external and internal interferences that we must digest, absorb, and then transform into love. On the other hand, this brings us to the realization that if we live in our own bubble and do not share our differences, we will not get out of where we are and we will go nowhere. We do not believe in deconstruction if you are within a comfort zone. Deconstruction is living with the universe of the other.

Sofia Franco, 27 and Pétala Lopes 26

Sofia: I have lived in three cities in Brazil and I believe that São Paulo is the best yet for my sexuality. Probably because it is the largest of the three cities. I believe that by having a greater diversity of people and more access to art and culture, we have less prejudice here. In Sao Paulo there are a lot more people on the streets, so you know more lesbians and gays out of the closet. It creates security for you to be who you are without fear. I have already suffered homophobia, but it bothers me much less here in São Paulo than when I lived in Florianópolis and Goiânia.

Pétala: As I was born and raised in São Paulo, I usually say that the city followed all the stages of my discovery as a lesbian. During my childhood I suffered a lot of lesbophobia in the school and neighborhood where I lived – in a periphery that is in the south of the city – but as I grew up and explored other places, I found myself and strengthened myself. I feel that in about five years to now, despite the growth of attacks, people are more open, which makes you feel safer on the street, especially in the central regions. I never suffered direct violence while walking with a girlfriend, but what I feel is the fear of experiencing it. Sometimes I avoid certain places at certain times. Sao Paulo is a very dubious city in regards to sexual tolerance, and I believe this is due to the immense mixture of cultures that we have here compared to other cities in Brazil. We can find a crazy neo-Nazi or a pastor who says he wants to save you from homosexuality on the same corner. But we also have wonderful projects to support LGBTs who are expelled from home, we see people of the same gender kissing on the subways, and we have drags shows every weekend. There is still much to do, but it is still a privilege to live/love here.

Gabriel Carneiro, 21 and Vitor Xavier, 20

@[email protected]

Gabriel: Having a gay relationship in São Paulo means fighting the world every day. Then imagine having a relationship being black, gay and living in the periphery, in a city where it is still necessary to reaffirm your space at all times and to be respected. On the other hand, you can connect with numerous afroconscious couples on the streets and at parties dedicated to black culture, and then you understand that the fight does not stop. The black skin resists in all the spaces and in all the issues that can be imagined. So for me, that’s it. Having a black and gay relationship in São Paulo isn’t just about survival, but resisting as a “bixa preta”!

Vitor: In my case, another question comes to mind. What is it to be a “bixa preta” (gay and black) in São Paulo? There are not just battles with the outside world, but also a great fight within to keep our mental health stable. We learn to survive and meet people who strengthen who we are. Here, we can still find people who are in this same group. Sharing a relationship with someone who has an experience very similar to mine not only creates a bond of understanding of who we are to the world, but also an intense and unique exchange of knowledge, learning,affection, love, and difficulties. People survive together. Sao Paulo offers opportunities that nowhere else would have, but it’s still a racist and homophobic city.

Natália Wakasab, 19 and Ana, 24

 

Natália: Being gay and living in São Paulo will probably be better than anywhere else in Brazil. I grew up in the countryside and I know that being gay in these places is seen as a joke. In São Paulo, I feel more receptive, but I do not feel totally comfortable in showing affection with my girlfriend in public places. I realize that people stare and look at us strangely, and this causes discomfort and insecurity.

Despite this, I never hid my homosexual relationship, and I was never attacked. Here is a place that I consider good, but I know it still needs improvement. There are intolerant people everywhere. Unfortunately, this is rooted in society and we need to seek change.

 

My First Heartbreak

British photographer Elliot Morgan makes teenage heartbreak the subject of his recent photo series. The sequence follows a young guy—hair dyed like Cruella de Vil and dressed in a multicolored leather jacket—during what seems to be the day of a break up. The guy is clearly depressed; he keeps rubbing his eyes, holding his forehead, and he shows us his phone as if that’s how the break up happened. He does all the things you might suspect from a hormonal, overly dramatic teenager who believes they will never find love again. We’ve all been there, right? But love somehow always prevails.

I was lucky. My first boyfriend was my first kiss and my first sexual experience. We were together for one year and then we broke up. It wasn’t hard. I simply found someone else.

What was really hard during those teenage years was the crushes on all the “straight” kids in school. You had your typical jock, the jock’s super cool and flirty (but straight) friend, the teacher (don’t try it, you know you had a crush on one of your teachers, too), the boss at your first internship (I may or may not have sent mine a four page letter after the first week), and so on and so on.

But what was it about those unfulfilled teenage crushes that makes them so much more memorable than anything after? Is it purely hormones? Is it because they are the first? Is it because they shape what your future love life is going to look like? Or is it simply because they were unrequited?

Unrequited love does not die; it’s only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded.” – Elle Newmark, The Book of Unholy Mischi.

That quote makes so much sense for the direction I was trying to take this article in. But I just admit….I have never read the book. I Googled it. It does, however, end my anecdote and segue nicely into the reason for writing this.

It’s for good reason that teenage love is the subject of the most romantic love stories in history—Romeo Juliet (Shakespeare), The Fault in Our Stars (John Green), 10 Things I Hate About You (Gil Junger), and many more—as it is the most passionate and unruly years in our lives. And most of us will probably look back at the period with a light head shake and a smirk thinking about how ridiculous we were.

Words: Lars Byrresen Petersen
Photographer: Elliot Morgan
Model:Tadgh Ahern @ Profile

Fix Your Face: Five Grooming Products for a Fresh 2017

Our community predominantly considers the use of beauty products to be a feminine trait, but once we broaden our scope and realize that grooming can be easily incorporated into our daily rituals…the results can look amazing.

Here are my top five beauty products to incorporate into your daily regime. These aren’t overpriced luxury products that break the bank or are too difficult to get your hands on. These are meant to be low-impact in terms of use but high-impact in terms of making you look fantastic.

The Body Shop All-In-One BB Cream

Most men use a facial moisturizer that they have bought at the drugstore or just take body cream and put it on their face. Moisturizer is important for keeping the skin hydrated, but what we yearn for is a cohesive complexion, and we should have something specifically for the face. Enter the BB Cream! People often confuse this as a tinted moisturizer, however, it’s a lighter product that adapts to your skin tone and gives you luminous skin without the need for foundation or powder.

Cosmetics à la Carte Brow Ink

One of the most common and unspoken issues in male grooming is patchy beards. Some men almost feel emasculated because they can’t grow one or it just doesn’t seem ‘full enough’. This tip and trick is something I learned while working with Cosmetics à la Carte. During their male grooming shoots, they would recommend using eyebrow ink to fill the beard. This perfects the architecture of the beard and gives a fuller and sharper look. You don’t need to use that much for a nice effect and you can even use eyeliner and simply blend it in (obviously suited to your beard color) but Indian ink looks great and comes off with face wash (and even in the shower if that’s too much of a step).

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer

After a hard day or even a crazy night, we can’t deny the fact that we wake up with designer eye bags. This is my go-to product to fix that. You simply wash your face, apply this under the eye socket, and tap away the excess with your fingers. With its caffeine-based ingredients, it gives you a natural alertness and can add a couple of hours of sleep to what probably was a night you can’t remember.

Aēsop Geranium Leaf Body Balm

I know everyone has their favorite moisturizer but I swear by Aēsop’s Leaf Body Balm. It smells delicious and mine has lasted an entire year. So although it’s pricey, it actually goes a long way. The key to moisturizing your body is to do it as soon as you get out of the shower. Instead of drying off completely, grab some moisturizer and lather it all over to lock in the moisture. This gives you noticeably (I hate it when people say this but it’s true) softer skin that your partner or Grindr date will notice instantly.

Bulldog Original Face Scrub

Lastly, I recommend everyone use a facial scrub at least once a week. It’s important to exfoliate and get rid of the wear and tear of the week (especially on your face). Bulldog is amazing because it’s organic, made from natural ingredients, and feels amazing after you use it. I recommend steaming your face with hot water (just pour boiling water in a bowl and sit with your face over it using a towel to keep in the steam so you open your pores) and then scrubbing in a pea-sized amount in circular motions then rinsing. This will revitalize your face and you’ll see the difference in the morning. (Note: Don’t touch your skin with your hands after you wash your face…because then what would be the point?)

Ryan Lanji is a Fashion and Beauty Curator. He has curated exhibitions for beauty brands such as Revlon and Cosmetics à la Carte.

Nine to Know Now: Copenhagen

NameOliver Fussing
Age24
Occupation Stylist
@Oliverfussing

What do you daydream about?
Food.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Instagram. Like most people, I get really tired of it sometimes. But I also find a lot of great images and inspiration on it.

What is your fashion sense inspired by?
So many different things, people, places and photographs, not only fashion. But there is a Will McBride story from AnOther Magazine that is really special to me. I never get tired of it.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
I hope to travel a lot.

NameEzra Shami
Age28
OccupationModel Stylist
@Elzkershami

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about a lot of things. My mind is always going in different directions, whether it’s friends, men, work, or life in general.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
I work in fashion, so I would not say my sexuality or gender has anything to do with my work.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
I’m inspired by a lot of things, mainly my friends, the streets of Copenhagen, and going out.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
I think it has a positive impact on my line of work. When I share my work on social media, it gets around, and you get an instant reaction. Also, a lot of clients depend on social media when it comes to a fresh point of view.

How important is a sense of community to you?
To me, it’s very important. My community gives me a sense of being and belonging. I’m very social and I love meeting new people.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
A lot of times people don’t understand how demanding my line of work is. At times my work is not as acknowledged when it comes to payments. It’s hard at times, but it’s getting better.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I like going to dark techno parties. You’ll find the best party at Fast Forward in Copenhagen.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
A finance app called Dinero.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
Taking one thing at a time. To be happy.

NameLukas Højlund
Age25
OccupationGraphic Designer and party organizer/promoter
@l00k_ass

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
Although I’m cis-male, I grew up in an environment where differences between people, such as gender, sexuality, or ethnicity, did not come between anyone. We all stood together and fought against the system and people that tried to fuck with us. I didn’t go out to mainstream clubs or bars. I was always at this big old squad in the center of Nørrebro. They had strict guidelines that did not tolerate any form of racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia. Those values stuck with me, and continue to be the most important factor in all my work.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
It’s inspired by the things that surround me: Music, graphics, parties, leftovers, trash, high-end fashion, a cheap discovery at a second hand store, random Instagram accounts, the punk environment I grew up in, and the rave scene I’m in now.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
At the moment, I work with graphic design and I’m part of a crew organizing and promoting raves and concerts, so I use social media a lot as a platform for communication. It works in a positive way because it makes it easy to reach a lot of different people and we end up getting a more diverse crowd at our parties.

How important is a sense of community to you?
Without my community, friends, and allies, I would not be able to do my work. I do underground raves, and it would not be possible without all the people helping out all the time.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
Yes and no. I used to work for some big magazines for free doing graphic design and layout because I thought it would give me some good connections or maybe they would hire me for some paid jobs. But they never did. I don’t think they needed more money, but there are so many people standing in line to work for free to get those connections that not many will end up getting hired. I learned the most from doing the work I liked to do with people I liked. And I still do. And now I know that we made our own connections. And those are good enough.

Who are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Performance artist and art student Casper-Malthe Augusta, electronic avant garde music producer Hari Kishore aka DJ Hvad (or simply just HVAD), and clothing designer Shila Gaonkar.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
As I organize parties at least once a month, I almost don’t go out anymore. I know it sounds boring. But I really liked the last Herrensauna party I attended in Berlin. It was amazing and had a next level energy you don’t see often in Copenhagen.

What kind of music inspires you?
Mostly electronic music, but it really depends on my mood. The record i think i like the most from 2016 has to be Yves Tumor’s “Serpent Music”. It’s the perfect mood for me.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Instagram and Facebook. Easy for connecting my graphic work with the promoting of parties and so on.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
Looking forward to seeing where Fast Forward Productions will take us. We only started one year ago and we’re already working with people from Berlin, Stockholm, London, and Leipzig, and we’re talking with someone about doing stuff on the other side of the Atlantic.

NameOliver Skov Haase
Age25
OccupationStudent
@Oliroed

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about a lot of projects I want to do, and I wish I had the energy and time to do more of them.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
Whatever I see. The music scene. My friends.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
I see our generation as very self-promoting. We’re the social media generation. Everything is about how you present yourself, not necessarily how you are, but your image. I know I have this feeling when I’ve been browsing Instagram and suddenly need to stop, because I start feeling bad about myself. We have to remember that what we see is never the whole truth. Yes, social media has brought us closer together, but at the same time we’re as far away as ever. In my case, I have to consume it in small doses.

How important is a sense of community to you?
I have two close friends and I really hang out a lot with them. For me, it’s important to belong, but I try to care as little as I can.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
It changes every day, but I’ve always been very fond of Marilyn Manson.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
Don’t really read it, just delete them from my feed if I ever see it.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
It could be anything from clubs to a party at a friend’s place, as long as the vibe is there.

What kind of music inspires you?
Black metal, techno, punk, hardcore, 80’s, but I listen to literally anything.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
Having a less turbulent year hopefully. Less stress, less problems.

NameVictor Nimb
Age21
@P_ussy

What do you daydream about?
Making a living without having to tone my appearance down.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
I just got a job at a bar, and was told I couldn’t wear makeup or heels, because it apparently weakens my authority.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
1920’s and 80’s are a big inspiration. I love the playful attitudes towards gender.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
Social media definitely has had a positive impact on me, especially seeing alternative looking people on Instagram daring to do their thing.

How important is a sense of community to you?
I haven’t really thought about my relationship to my communities.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
No, I don’t think creative work is underfunded. Creative people have always found a way of surviving. The best art and fashion is produced due to troubled times.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Claude Cahun, Iris Apfel, Cruella de Vil.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
Homophobic trolls online are rare for me. Sometimes guys mistake me for a woman, but they are polite most of the time.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I mostly go to Vernissages, but private parties or techno parties are a big hit as well.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Instagram. It’s so easy to use and you can just scroll through the pics.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
In 2017 I’m really looking forward to giving less fucks.

NameEsben Weile Kjær
Age23
OccupationArtist
@Esbenweile

What do you daydream about?
Living with as much freedom as possible.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
Both gender and sexuality issues are very important in my practice. I hate the idea that many straight people have that if you are a queer person all your work is about that. I’m not own sexuality is super important for my work. I think that sexuality and gender is important in a more general perspective. It’s more on a theoretical level. I’m trying to understand different issues and situations from a queer perspective. Club culture, sub vs. mainstream culture and so on.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
The 18th century.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
It’s really positive. It’s so easy to get access to info that’s both visual and textual. I don’t think that online and offline exist any more. We are online all the time and the virtual part of your identity is as real as the opposite. Of course, there is also a lot of problematic bullshit and oppressive structures on social media as there is in the physical world.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Mark Fisher, my sister, and Mark Leckey.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
Parties where I’m playing. I’m kind of a control freak.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
The revolution.

NameCeline Marguerite Pedersen
Age20
OccupationWaitress Stylist Assistant
@celineqt

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about the day where the standards of gender performance for trans people aren’t so high. I also dream about drinking cocktails from a coconut in Hawaii with a gorgeous man.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
I’m very conscious about me passing as a woman when I’m at work, and it’s exhausting. I constantly think about my voice, my manly facial features, etc. But only when I’m around customers and when I’m with my colleagues I don’t care. It would be nice to not be that self-conscious every time I’m at work.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
Underground party scene In Copenhagen and celebs from abroad. Sometimes I like to walk by all the high end stores and just look at the clothing that are displayed in the windows, and then I’ll find something that reminds me of the displayed clothes in a vintage shop.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
Yes!!! I meet and see so many amazing creative people with good ideas, but with no funding or investors because no one gives a fuck about creativity anymore unless there is money in it.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
Homophobic, transphobic, racist trolls are everywhere, but only on social media platforms where you can be anonymous. I have been an Internet user for almost 11 years, and within the last four years, trolls are less common. I don’t know if it’s because I am good at avoiding them or maybe they’ve just grown the fuck up.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
Underground parties where sexuality, gender, color ,or whatever doesn’t matter. You come to dance and have fun.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
I’m looking forward to traveling, getting a nose job, meeting new and exciting people, and also finding new and positives sides about myself and my friends.

NameKarl Gustav Brøndum Østergaard
Age20
Occupation“clubkid” i guess lol
@Karl.gustav

What do you daydream about?
White helium balloons on grey beaches at sunset.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
I’m kinda of a minimalist whether I like it or not. What inspires/seduces me are often the materials and fabrics, mostly really synthetic ones. And then I just try integrate it into my wardrobe. Fashions tendencies comes and go, but this love for “nasty” materials seems to hang on to me. If I was to pick a muse, it would be Clara Deshayes before the whole Vetements era.

How important is a sense of community to you?
It makes feel safe. I really see that I’m a part of something when traveling. Don’t know if it’s good or bad, but people tend to judge from much more values when outside Copenhagen.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Loke Rahbek, Anne Sofie Madsen, and Haruki Murakami.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I really enjoy Fast Forward, Herrensauna, and Esben’s Mainstream Parties.

What kind of music inspires you?
I really enjoy Croatian Amor, Cremation Lily, and Slowdive at the moment. Been listening to Croatian Amor’s “The World” constantly for nine months. “LA Hills Burn at the Peak of Winter” has made me cry more than once.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
I’m currently traveling for two months, so maybe that will be eventful.

NameIvy September Rosenauer
Age26
OccupationMarketing Student, Model
@ivyrosenauer

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about walking on the streets and feel like I own the spot I’m given in this world. Being accepted as a transgender woman without any questions asked.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
It is definitely harder in my position as a transgender person getting accepted. I feel like I have to work 10 times harder to prove myself. I feel like coming from any minority you are instantly categorized for gender/sexuality rather than for who you actually are.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
I am inspired by the social movements and roles models in this society. I dress after my mood. The 1920’s is my favorite fashion period.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
I think social media is positive in the sense of that people can connect and you can get updated with things that you did not have a clue existed a few years ago. The negative is that people forget get to live.

How important is a sense of community to you?
I think everybody needs to somehow feel included. It is healthy to surround yourself with like-minded people.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
I think we have lost focus on the actual talents of this world. The world should slow down from this fast pace movement and praise the people that work hard and have something to say rather than just showing off.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
I appreciate a lot. I do not really pay attention to specifics.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
When I lived as a homosexual man, I never experienced any injustice online. Coming out and living as a transgender woman is another story.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I like a good private party with good friends and music.

What kind of music inspires you?
Music with feeling and music that touches me, as well as making my own.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Facebook without a doubt!

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
To release my first track and arrange the first unicorn-transgender wagon at Copenhagen Pride. as well as having my VICE magazine documentary out. In general, I hope to see less pressure in people’s eyes, and that they remember the core of things that really matters. A lot of healing to be done in the world.

Art Through Activism: A Chat With Artist Slava Mogutin

Russian contemporary queer artist Slava Mogutin engages in activism as part of his practice, and explores legislation, sexuality, and religion in his work. Coming from homophobic social systems has equipped him with a compelling perspective on our community’s progress around the world, and that shows both in his visual work and in his words.

Pedro: What’s been happening in Slava land recently?
Slava: This last year was very productive and eventful. I traveled a lot, did several shows and performances, directed two music videos, made lots of new art and wrote a new book of poetry in English and Russian. I also had the honor of presenting the Lost Boys series in my first outdoor public exhibition in Prague. There’s nothing more encouraging for an artist than seeing your work stretched on billboards, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it was received.

Sexuality and breaking social barriers is obviously an important part of you as a protester. What made you start creating art about it?
I could never separate my political activism from my art—something that is not going to change as long as I’m alive. My work celebrates diversity and nonconformity. Ever since my teenage years as a punk poet in Moscow, I’ve been addressing the issues that are personally important to me, from homophobia, censorship, hypocrisy, bigotry and social inequality to displacement and identity, disaffection and alienation, alternative subcultures and gender crossover. Coming from a hostile and oppressive country like Communist Russia, I had to fight for my existence and acceptance from an early age, and I did it through my poetry and art as much as my political statements and actions.

You’re known for being quite the renegade in Russia, as shown by your famous first Russian gay marriage attempt back in 1994. How has your relationship with the country evolved over the years?
Quoting the great late Leonard Cohen, “I love the country, but I can’t stand the scene.” I have a love-hate relationship with Russia. Being forced to leave my country at such a young age was a very traumatic and challenging experience for me, but thanks to my exile, I became the person and artist I am today. I’m still proud of my roots and my culture, but I haven’t been back home in over 10 years, and I have no desire of endorsing Putin’s homophobic corrupt regime in any shape or form.

What are your hopes for the near future of queer visibility?
Radical, unfiltered queer imagery is still being restricted and routinely censored on social media and in most mainstream media outlets. Instead, we’re being served with a homogenized sterile substitute presented as the new “gay norm.” This is not to mention a list of nearly 80 countries where homosexuality and any expressions of queer lifestyle or sensibility are still illegal or semi-legal. Sadly, that long list includes most populist countries like Russia, India and China, most of Africa and the entire Arabic world. It’s fair to say that we live in a queer bubble that only covers some patches of our planet, which still remains largely homophobic. I’m afraid this situation is not going to change on its own anytime soon, unless we continue to fight for our universal rights and acceptance.

Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent series, Young Blood Open Heart?
This is, perhaps, the most experimental body of work I’ve produced to date. It combines traditional paper and photo collage with bodily fluids, rust, wine, vinegar, lime and beet juice, and even some vaginal cream (all the good things). I revisited and deconstructed some of my earlier images, giving them a whole new meaning, with less focus on sexuality and more emphasis on the existential, spiritual, and the Occult.

What is the reason behind collage as your choice of medium?
Collage is one of my favorite mediums, along with photography, video, text, and drawing. I like the idea of turning trash into treasures and using found and appropriated material, from vintage erotica, comics books, newspapers, and stolen Bibles to feathers, stickers, and random objects that I collected on the street.

Religion seems to be a recurring theme in your work. What are your thoughts on the coexistence of religion and sexuality?
I came full circle from being an atheist to getting baptized at 17, then rejecting God and my religion for most of my adult life, and then becoming a born-again in recent years. A couple of years ago, I had a show in Greece and I had a religious epiphany there, so I went to each and every Orthodox cathedral I could find. It was like rediscovering my own roots through the Byzantine roots of Russian culture, religion, and Cyrillic alphabet. It was very empowering and enlightening for me on the personal and artistic level.

I think a lot of gay men reject God and religion because they get off on the idea of being “bad” or “evil.” Over the past 20 years I’ve documented many fetish subcultures, and I think the entire BDSM etiquette and mythology are based on the Catholic guilt complex. I would call it reverse spirituality, because you cannot believe in Satan without believing in God, just like you cannot be “evil” without knowing something about “good.”

You collaborated with Bruce LaBruce, Edmund White, and most recently, with No Bra on a video piece inspired by Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man. What brought all of you together?
Collaboration is one of the key elements of my practice, and I was fortunate to work with many great artists, writers, and musicians. I’m Your Man is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic song that I did with Susanne Oberbeck of No Bra. We recorded the track in New York and then filmed the video on our recent trip to London. It’s a song about modern romance and disaffection that we both found very engaging, so we thought it was appropriate to film it in Hampstead Heath Park, the famous gay cruising area where George Michael was busted for “dogging” several years ago. Susanne and I wanted to retrace his steps before the arrest amidst the actual cruisers who just happened to be there. It was a beautiful sunny day and we managed to capture the anxious mood and excitement of cruising while filming each other on my small undercover camera. Sadly, the video premiered days before Leonard Cohen’s death, followed by George Michael’s, so the project turned out to be a double tribute to both of them.

Has the work of Leonard Cohen inspired your practice in the past?
I’ve been a huge admirer of Leonard Cohen’s work ever since I discovered it as a teenager in Moscow and I still find him very inspiring. “First We Take Manhattan” used to be one of my anthems. It seemed like a perfect script for my early artistic aspirations.

Cruising seems to be one of the themes the video explores. Is this something you have dabbled in?
When it comes to cruising, I’m more of a voyeur than participant. As a gay virgin, I used to go to the Alexandrovsky Park, Moscow’s main cruising spot right next to the Red Square, where I would watch gay guys meet. It was my first exploration of the gay underground at the time was homosexuality was still considered a crime punishable with up to five years in prison. Sometimes I saw gays being harassed, arrested, and bashed just based on their looks. So for me, cruising is forever associated with danger and breaking the law. Despite all that—years after exile—I still find cruising very exciting and romantic. It’s about breaking the walls, rejecting societal norms, and creating your own alternative queer space. In my view, cruising is a healthy alternative to claustrophobic and restricted gay venues and the culture of online dating, which renders all senses and personalities useless.

You have a new book coming out called Bros Brosephines, which features a lot of your photography work for magazines over the years. How do you find your subjects for these shoots?
This book is very different from my previous ones. It’s a survey on my commission and editorial work going back 15 years. The title comes from two separate projects I did for VICE magazine, “Bros Blowing Shotties” and “Brosephines.” Both stories became quite popular and were republished in various VICEeditions worldwide, from the U.K. and Germany to Australia and New Zealand. In some cases, the casting was arranged by the magazines and I worked with professional models, although I still prefer to shoot my friends and fellow artists, so there are many familiar faces, like Gio Black Peter, François Sagat, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, Sophia Lamar, Candis Cayne, Omahyra Mota, and Brian Kenny, who was a principal collaborator on several series.

The photos seem to be both documentary and staged, and they look like a lot of fun! How do you get your models to behave like that in the shoots?
My creative motto is, “Work is play.” I always think of my shoots as collaborations with the subjects. The point is that I would never impose anything or ask them to do something that I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing myself. It’s about having a good time and creating together something beautiful and meaningful, something that all the people involved can be proud of.

Are they ever nervous? I can imagine if they are, that can make the shoots a little awkward. If so how do you make them feel more comfortable?
I usually work with people who are already familiar with my work, so I don’t really have to direct or control the situation. Most of my work is improvised and spontaneous and I never use my camera as an intimidation tool. It’s about trust, compassion, understanding and collaboration in a very broad sense. It’s about capturing real people, moments and emotions worth sharing with the universe.

You’ve achieved a lot, both as an artist and as a queer figure. What’s next for you?
I have more projects and creative ideas than I could possibly realize in my lifetime. I’m very excited about my next book of poetry based on my recent journals, Satan Youth, and a book of essays and interviews covering over 20 years of my journalism, Gay in the Gulag. I’m also working on a new series of text drawings and abstract paintings, a record album featuring collaborations with some of my favorite artists and musicians, and developing my fashion line.