Fear of the Feminine’ (2021) is a photographic series exploring and reflecting on my relationship with my queerness and femininity in childhood. Somewhat diaristic in nature, however largely glorified and symbolic, the work expresses experiences of growing up queer. Inspired by a time where I unknowingly questioned the metaphysics of gender and intricacies of societal expectations.
Looking back on my own experiences of not fitting the standard expectations of a young boy, I created work highlighting and reflecting upon the substantial grief and confusion as a result of external pressures to conform to aspects of the heteronormative lifestyle. The work is too, a reaction to current debates regarding LGBTQ+ inclusive teaching that I feel I would have benefitted from as a child. Considering my childhood education was limited to heteronormative representations. Whilst I was ushered from queer behaviours, when expressing myself, I was overcome with feelings of guilt and shame without fully understanding why.
"Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us and which parts we've created to protect us." - Alexander Leon
I chose to develop my practice around the existence and suppression of my male femininity using my drag alter-ego, Angel. In the series, she represents a hyper-feminine visualisation of my male femininity. In order to commence the line of exploration, I placed her in the centre of a cold-case murder/disappearance investigation comprised of fictional publications made up of loose conspiracy theories, narratives, and corresponding imagery that utilise notable gender associations and archetypes ingrained in modern societal viewpoints. Essentially, killing the character off to portray how I had previously suppressed and attempted to eliminate signs of femininity.
I later stripped back the works to lone images, presented as ambiguous, cinematic crime scene photographs comparable to film stills, constructing a sense of glamour met with a vagueness that allows viewers to piece together individual narratives associated with each crime.
With thanks to Andrew Michael for assisting select shoots.