Queer Movements: Representation and Visibility in Fashion and Film
Culture — 31.08.18
If you didn’t grow up questioning representation in art and media, or a lack of representation for certain communities, then you were probably in the represented ‘majority’. Grace Gadd is a casting director and producer who is actively seeking to bridge this gap through her work in music videos and fashion editorials.
“I identify as gay, lesbian or queer. I’ve always been very feminine and never saw any women like me represented in the media other than the L word, which no longer screens. I wanted to shoot this series to show there is diversity. Often femme queer women, bisexual women and trans males who previously identified as gay women are discredited and marginalized even by some people within our own community.”
The resulting editorial and fashion film are definitively queer. Coming out at the close of pride season, Grace has brought together a team and cast of brilliant and talented queer folk including Sarah Moore, who works for The Labour Party’s digital campaign and spent the past year volunteering to set up an LGBTQ+ Community Centre in London, Charlotte Forsyth, an animal rights activist and curator, Izaak Adu, a male trans activist and the son of singer Sade, philosophy student Nancy Dawkins, and Tayylor Made, an American DJ and music producer, to name a few.
The editorial was shot by Grace Difford and the film directed by Sophie Jones, using the track “Release Me“ by Julie Chance and Jane Arnison, who make up the band Evvol, and are also featured.
“Evvols video for “Release Me” shows real queer women having sex, [remembers] thinking “thank fuck”. Here’s a video showing an accurate representation of lesbian and girl-on-girl sex. Put out there by two amazing queer women!” She reached out to the duo after listening to all of their music and falling in love with it. “I was overjoyed when they agreed to be a part of this project and ‘Release Me’ felt so fitting for our beautiful queer film.”
Grace has done an extraordinary job of bringing together a group of unique and talented individuals. Speaking to the cast about this project each of them brought up the same point, how important it is that young people are able to see versions of themselves in the media:
“Anything that champions queer artists is important to us because it’s not only that people see us as queer people but that we see ourselves reflected in media and that our queer community sees it’s champions and linchpins in their representations.” – Evvol
“Although it can be to blame for a lot of negative things too, social media has really contributed to [a changing awareness of the queer community]. I’m pretty firmly of the belief that visibility is super important” – Sophie-Rose Williams
“When I was younger, all I wanted was to see LGBTQ+ people, especially women, represented anywhere and everywhere. I was drawn to this project because it’s representing a group of people which can be really overlooked, both within the LGBTQ+ community and mainstream community. I want to be visible as a queer woman so younger queer women know they’re not alone.” – Sarah Moore
Daisy Jones, who works at Noisey and Vice, commented:
“Queer white dudes have been at the forefront of pop culture, for instance, for years. But I’d love to see more trans men and women of colour hold visible positions of power, for example, or queer people who aren’t middle class becoming more prominent within the media etc. I think the ‘LGBTQ+ community’ means so many different things to different people. That said, for queer women specifically – which is where I exist within that spectrum – there are so many new voices in music, media and arts today. It’s valuable to have many different people tell their stories and be visible, so that the culture and opinions the rest of the world consumes is reflective of reality, rather then just a tiny section of it.”
This is a group of people who have a shared belief in an increased visibility for different representations of queerness, and it’s a perspective shared by many of us. In major urban environments, like London and New York, where the creative industry is focused and there are large queer populations, it’s possible to lose sight of the fact that these places are an exception, not the rule. That is why projects such as this, and the work of the individuals involved, are so important. They are a reminder that social and cultural expectations aren’t rigid! That you can be anyone you want to be, present yourself in any way you wish to present yourself, and as Grace says “do you and be you and love who you want.”
To learn more about this project, visit the accompanying editorial here.