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“Queer, trans, and gender non-confirming illustrators, photographers, poets, and other artists of color on Instagram who are inspiring us throughout pride month and year-round.”
It’s Pride month, and as many of us remain separated from our loved ones, gatherings, and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, this month looks a lot different than it usually does.
Historically, pride has emerged as a commemoration of the Stonewall uprising in 1969, a remembrance of lives lost to HIV/AIDS, and an ongoing revolution towards new forms of LGBTQIA+ liberation. In light of the ongoing demonstrations organized to fight to protect Black queer and trans lives, this year's pride parades are being rightfully transformed by long-overdue public actions towards solidarity and abolitionist practices. In the process, these rampant demonstrations are also reconfiguring community expectations around resistance, art, and healing.
This year, the queer community is finding new ways to celebrate, resist, and imagine other vehicles for expression and affirmation. Queer art has long offered an opportunity to reimagine creativity as a tool for evolution—and that remains especially true today. Thanks to digital platforms and no shortage of queer creativity, art continues to serve as both a remedy and celebration during this historic time. As social life reroutes to virtual spheres, so too has the search for inspiration and new modes of artistic engagement that speak to the various social and political challenges of the moment.
Artists have the capacity to transform social consciousness, and we’ve rounded up 15 queer, trans, and gender non-conforming artists of color on Instagram who are doing just that. It’s pride month, but LGBTQIA+ artists deserve to be celebrated year-round. Read on to learn more about each of these creators seek to honor and exalt queer experiences through their art practice.
Clifford Prince King, @cliffordprinceking, is a documentary photographer based in Los Angeles. After gaining a following in Arizona then Portland, King has built a practice of photographing queer Black men, capturing affection and realness through immediate portraiture.
Self-taught and based in Los Angeles, first-generation Mexican-American photographer Fabian Guerrero, @fei_bian, shoots to illuminate the vibrant intersection of queer experience and Mexican heritage. Check out their stunning ranchero portraiture and shimmering landscapes generate vast narratives of Latinx embodiment and cultural envisioning.
You might know Mohammed Fayaz, @brohammed, as an illustrator and organizer behind Papi Juice, the art collective celebrating the lives of queer and trans people of color through music, nightlife, and curated events. Born and raised in New York City, their work centralizes queer and trans communites of color through warm detail and brilliant color.
Gabriella Grimes, known as @ggggrimes, is a queer artist from New York City. Their work challenges binaried perceptions of gender through bright illustrations that portray queer people of color in their full humanity―"hurting, healing, and simply living happily.” Head to their website for beautiful bags, prints, paintings, and more.
Black lesbian illustrator Shanée Benjamin, @shaneebenjamin, paints relationships, family, solitude, and resilience in gorgeous, vivid strokes. Their work depicts an intimate sense of hope that radiates. If you’re looking for a new artist to obsess over, or a fresh canvas for your wall, check out Shanée’s work.
Ashley Lukashevsky, @ashlukadraws, is illustrating social movements “for racial justice, immigrant justice, climate justice, mental health and LGBTQIA+ liberation.” Their work has been shared widely as a tool for raising awareness for undocumented immigrants, Ahmaud Arbery case, prison abolition, and more. Born and raised in Honolulu, currently based in Los Angeles, their work envisions a safer world for marginalized communities.
Queer Chicanx collage artist and photographer Ruben Guadalupe Marquez, better known as @broobs.psd, celebrates the LGBTQIA+ communitiy through iconic collage art that merges religious and Latinx imagery. Currently based in San Francisco, Broobs’ work fuses botanical elements and vibrant color palettes to honor QTPOC communities.
Mexican painter Fabián Cháirez, @fabian_chairez, is challenging machísmo through sensual paintings that subvert sexist tropes and traditional gender roles. The artist recently came under fire for exhibiting a nude portrait of revolutionary Emiliano Zapata in heels and a pink sombrero. Protestors stormed the gallery and Zapata’s family threatened to sue. Yet Cháirez is committed to redefining Mexican masculinity, and his gorgeous paintings are inciting dialogue in brave and promising directions.
Philadelphia-based artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase, @jonathanlyndonchase, paints Black queer desire. Their pieces imagine new modes of representation through erotic and distorted images that feel honest and accessible. Chase’s practice is unapologetically charged, chaotic—and the results are mesmerizing.
Luther Hughes, @lutherxhughes, is a Seattle-based poet and the author of Touched. After founding Shade Literary Arts, an organization that empowers and expands literature by queer writers of color, the poet created a relief fund which has so far raised nearly $25,000 for queer writers of color impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Akwaeke Emezi, or @azemezi on Instagram, is a queer and trans Nigerian writer. Their debut Freshwater, is a novel that deals with spirituality and gender identity, and has transformed the fiction landscape.
Originially from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, Tommy Pico, who you can find on Instagram as @heyteebs, is a queer poet living between Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Pico is also the co-host of Food 4 Thot, a wildly hilarious podcast that discusses sex, relationships, race, identity, and more. Books by the author include IRL, Nature Poem, Junk, and Feed.
Adrienne Maree Brown is transforming conversations around justice through writing. They are the author of Pleasure Activism and Emergent Strategy, and co-host of the podcast How to Survive the End of the World. Brown also recently launched Octavia's Parables, a limited podcast running through the election that takes a deep dive into what Octavia Butler’s book, Parable of the Sower holds for this transformational moment in history. Their work helps imagine queer Black futures through transformative justice, creativity, and cooperation. Find them at @adriennemareebrown.
Chen Chen, @chenchenwrites, is a poet and essayist exploring Asian-American experience and queerness. Their work engages social power structures with earnestness and compassion. Check out their book, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter for hilarious, moving insights.
Denice Frohman, @denicefrohman, is a queer, Latinx poet, performer, and educator from New York City living in Philadelphia. Devoted to youth mentorship, Frohman has helped organize social projects like #PoetsforPuertoRico and The Philly Youth Poetry Movement. Their work engages identity, lineage, and cultural celebration.
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