Gay Men’s Vagina Illustrations Prompt Book Project

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“Gay Men Draw Vaginas” is exactly the project it sounds like. Three years ago, Keith Wilson and Shannon O’Malley were eating at a restaurant with a group of homosexuals when the topic of vaginas came up. This led to O’Malley asking Wilson to draw a vagina on the table with a crayon. This inspired more conversation and more drawings from the gay men at the table. A few months later, the duo decided to explore this idea even further, setting up a “vagina collection booth” at gay establishments across San Francisco. While they were given a few sneers here and there, most of the gay men who participated were excited to dive in and contribute to the project.

O’Malley observes, “In casual conversation, at surface level, I knew asking gay guys to draw vaginas was funny because it zeroed in on what some people might have perceived as ‘opposites.’ What I kept to myself were my navel-gazing meditations on ‘queer identity’ and ideas people (and the culture) hold about women and bodies.”

The duo recognize that the drawings range anywhere from misogynistic to celebratory to puzzling and enigmatic. They hope to eventually get people like Dan Savage, Neil Patrick Harris, Perez Hilton, John Waters, and/or George Takei to participate. “Ultimately, though, we hope people do a lot of things; we hope they’ll laugh, we hope they’ll think about what it means to identify as a ‘gay man,’ we hope they’ll think about ideas our culture has about bodies and body parts. Their responses are part of the study, part of the art,” they explain.

O’Malley and Wilson are currently running a Kickstarter for their book project. With 3 days to go, they have raised $56,500, exceeding their projected goal of $37,000. You can follow their project on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. (via huffington post and vice)

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SD Holman’s Portraits Of Female Masculinity In BUTCH: Not Like The Other Girls

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Beardo

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Photographer SD Holman uses her talent as a portrait photographer to capture women who fall outside of the traditional gender binary. In her series “BUTCH: Not Like the Other Girls,” masculine women are not oddity or other. These are photos of women who identify as butch captured by a butch woman—they are women defining themselves. In this way, Butch has much in common with the current social campaigns stripping women of makeup, enhancements, and retouching and declaring them more beautiful without the artifice. This is part of Holman’s intent with the show—to use the Butch identity as an example of one of the classifications through which women are objectified. The difference though is the hate and fear that Butch women have faced as transgressors of societal constructs of femininity. Holman says:

“Butches and all gender variant folk walk in a world that is really hostile to them, so we tend to look inward.  I was inspired to show their beauty by my wife Catherine, a femme who loved butches, and encouraged me to do this when I started talking about it.”

The rich diversity of butch women is evidenced here. Just as there isn’t one way to be a woman, Butch includes women of all shapes and colors and styles. The fluidity of gender is apparent in each photo.

Holman is an artist. Her portraits are classically beautiful, with their artful lighting and dramatic contrasts. The subjects mostly gaze through the lens to the viewer, unapologetic and authentic. There is no contrivance in these images, no sense of willful provocation nor is there any sense of apology. Author Amy Bloom writes, “Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” These photos are intimate and groundbreaking, brave and matter-of-fact, beautiful and handsome.

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Sébastien Lifshitz Documents Hidden LGBT Relationships From The Early 20th Century

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Filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz began compiling vintage photographs of queer couples when he happened upon a photo album that he realized contained the life a lesbian couple. Intrigued by the visibility with which they claimed with these photographs, despite living in the early to mid 20th century, when homosexuality was less accepted and more hidden that it is now, Lifshitz filmed a documentary - Les Invisibles (2012) – chronicling the lives of LGBT couples born between the two World Wars. Lifshitz just released a companion photo book -The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride last month. These images capture a lifestyle that was largely invisible to the mainstream culture to which it belonged. Photography was a way for queer communities to be visible to each other and to document the lives they led, however invisible they were to the heteronormative culture of their time.

Of his collection, Lifshitz says, “I don’t know these people — they are anonymous to me. I can’t really even say that each person photographed into the book is gay, except when it’s obvious. What I like is that there are different levels of reading these photos — I would say three levels to be exact. The first one is the pictures of obviously gay single people or couples, the second is the pictures of people which can be seen as ‘undefined’ (we’re not sure) and the third level is the ones that are obviously not gay but playing with a gay attitude (cross-dresser, some ‘garçonnes,’ etc.). I love the ambiguity and diversity of these pictures. These photographs ask questions. I didn’t caption the photos because I don’t know quite anything about each of them (no name, no location mentioned most of the time). I wanted to expose them like the way I found them: without any information, like mysterious pictures.” (via brain pickings)

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Banned Photographs Of Gay Couples Kissing In Catholic Churches

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For the series “Trialogo,” the Catholic photographer Gonzalo Orquin captured images of homosexual couples kissing in centuries-old Italian churches; beneath the ornate ceilings, the lovers’ embrace harmonizes with the architecture, elevating gay love to the religious beauty and devotion normally associated only with heterosexual marriages. By locating each shot within a religious and cultural context that has opposed marriage equality, Orquin courageously asserts the sacred validity of same-sex love.

The artist deliberately positions each pair at the church alter or in the center of the frame, visually uniting them under gilded crosses, vivid paintings of the crucifixion, and engravings of biblical passages. Like the churches themselves, architecturally built around the sacred concept of symmetry, the lovers are powerfully balanced, each assigned equal visual weight. Where one leans in for the kiss, the other braces to accommodate the movement. Heightening this notion of harmony and equilibrium, each couple is linked by similar clothing choices: two leather jackets, two dark suits, two soft cardigans.

Orquin’s lovers are seen as fully realized unit, unified under the Christian ideas of balance and wholeness. They complement and nurture one another as they bask in a golden glow, lit by radiant daylight steaming into the sacred spaces. Upon seeing these moving images, viewers might recognize the virtue and spiritual value that romantic love affords humanity, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Sadly, an exhibit of Orquin’s images, set to open last fall at the Galleria L’Opera, was legally threatened and ultimately shut down by the Vatican on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. In the eyes of the Catholic church, the photographs would “offend and infringe upon the advancement of man in the particular place for the expression of faith.” Orquin has articulated his outrage against the decision, and the work continues to spark passionate debate. What do you think? (via HuffPost)

Orquin’s beautiful photographs will be on display in New York’s at the Leslie+Lohman Museum this May.

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Matthew Pillsbury Documents Coming Out As A Gay Man With His Haunting Photographs

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Nate and Me, Desperate Housewives Sunday, October 16th, 2005 9-10pm

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Matthew Pillsbury‘s long exposure photography series, “Screen Lives,” largely documents domestic activity related to screens that glow from televisions, computers, or mobile phones. Eleven of those photographs, however, represent a specific time during Pillsbury’s life when he fell in love with a man, left his wife, and came out as a gay man to his friends and family. This event changed the direction of Pillsbury’s project. While initially focused on photographing screen scenes with subjects who didn’t move around as much, Pillsbury’s project evolved once he met Nate. “I think it took the freedom of my coming out to make a picture like the one of Nate in Vegas or Cell Phone on Venice Beach. I was breaking down the very rules I had set for my own artistic project,” Pillsbury said. Documenting movement, intimacy, and relationship dynamics, Pillsbury’s collection is at once haunting and lucid.

The eleven photographs representing this transition are titled “Nate and Me” and will be on view at the Sasha Wolf Gallery in NYC until April 20. (via slate)

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