The dictionary definition of the word ‘Idol’ is ‘a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered’. From an early age we begin to idolise people around us, whether that person is a parent, grandparent, teacher or even a celebrity. For many people the most common would be a celebrity. Being homosexual and a person of colour, I noticed that weren’t a lot of people like me on the tv and that led me to believe that I didn’t fit in. I later noticed that there was even more underrepresentation of the broader LGBT+ spectrum. Apart from Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black, there is very little representation of Transgendered people in the media. Apart from the reality show, ‘Rupaul’s Drag Race’ there is very little representation of Drag Queens/Kings in the media. In addition, apart from a few high profile models such as Andreja Pejić, there is little to none representation of androgynous people in the media. And as a result of this, many young people do not have an idol to look up to but also leaves people uneducated in the differences between these three individual groups of people.
In this project, I sought out to ultimately educate people and specific individuals that have broken boundaries, paved the way future generations and also helped bring these issues to the mainsteam media. I looked for individuals from different cultures too, especially from where I come from, India. I thought it was interesting to see the response in India and other parts of Asia. Even to this day, LGBT+ people are highly underrepresented in the media and I hoped that my project help shed some light.
I chose six iconic individuals from the Drag, Transgender and Androgynous communities to focus on in this project and created six photographs showing a representation of them. I also chose iconic people such as David Bowie and Grace Jones, that were not LGBT+ but paved the way for future artists (e.g. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and etc.) to be free to express themselves.
The six Idols I chose include;
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi (Indian Hijra) – India Transgender Activist
Bandō Tamasaburō V – Japanese Onnagata Theatre Actor
Divine (Drag Queen) – Famous Drag Queen of the 60s
Grace Jones – Singer/Actress/Model famous for her Androgynous appearance and her influence of cross-dressing era in the 80s
David Bowie – Singer/Actor famous for persona’s such as Ziggy Stardust, a gender nonconforming individual from outer space.
RuPaul (Drag Queen) – Drag Queen/Singer
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