Gender Diversity in All Its Colorful Glory
March 26, 2015 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Drew Riley explores the visibility "explosion" for trans and gender-nonconforming people in gritty, vibrant portraits that capture the eye.
Transgender and gender-nonconforming figures rarely pop from the page quite like they do in artist Drew Riley's new collection Gender Portraits. Painted with splashes of bright color, full of dynamic movement or charged silence, and set against whimsical or brooding backdrops, Riley's portraits are nothing short of arresting. They pull the viewer in for a closer look — which is exactly the response Riley was aiming for, she tells The Advocate.

From the project's About page:
Not all gender nonconformists are transgender. And sometimes there is debate over what does and doesn't fall under the transgender "umbrella" label. Which is why I decided to call this project "Gender Portraits," and not "Transgender Portraits." I don't want to focus on a subset of the gender spectrum. I want to zoom out and view the full glory of the gender rainbow. That means full time and part time gender benders; cis-gender people who's gender presentation doesn't fit the norm; people who's gender divergence is their full identity, or limited to a hobby or profession; those who chose it, and those who have never had a say; gay, straight, passing, standing out, questioning, or decided. I don't expect to have the full picture represented by series release. This will be an ongoing series that uncovers more and more gender diversity as it goes. If you feel like a subset is left out, please contact us.
posted by Lexica (9 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
This is cool. Thank you for sharing.
posted by Fizz at 10:40 AM on March 26, 2015

I dig these. Lots of portrait series just wind up looking like a series of faces, but these have so much personality shining through.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:48 AM on March 26, 2015

These are awesome. They make me want to meet the people and talk to them.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:08 AM on March 26, 2015

I feel like the essay called Adolescence should be required reading for anyone who is or knows anyone who is trans or gender fluid. Such important concepts in there about authenticity and figuring it all out. The best part about the essay is the reminder about self-discovery in all of its ghastly and fantastic glory!
posted by Sophie1 at 11:31 AM on March 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

These are lovely!
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:12 PM on March 26, 2015

Man, a bunch of these are incredible (Gerry, Cavan, Rebecca, Harnaam) and a bunch of them just look like terrible bar art (Exploration, Glances). Hope Riley keeps going with it, but figures out how to get out of the Lucian Freud meets Billy Childish rut.
posted by klangklangston at 3:10 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding Sophie1 - if you look at nothing else, at least read the Adolescence story.
posted by desjardins at 4:23 PM on March 26, 2015

“Ideally I would like to be able to be called by whatever it is that I'm feeling that day without having to go through the explanation.” But Josh finds, “It's very confusing for a lot of my friends.”

I have been trying to train my students and colleagues that I'm just Joyce - not Ms. Joyce, and surely not Mrs. [lastname], and even that one little thing is taking too many brain cycles and is freaking exhausting. It's easier to just default.

Some nights, the blue makes you cry, and that's okay.
posted by joycehealy at 6:37 PM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Would "Professor Joyce" or simply "Prof" be acceptable for students? Addressing an instructor by their given name alone just seems so wrong somehow...
posted by Seiten Taisei at 4:43 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

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