…………………………………………….. ‘The Luminary’ Alba Avella ……………………………………………..
“When I am on the mat or in a dance studio, there’s no room for criticism. Yoga and dance are my platform to express myself completely and honestly, without judgment. When the human soul is on fire, magic happens, and I believe this is what will change the world.
I use my body in so many ways: to guide my students both physically and on a deeper inner level. The inner bodywork I do through yoga and dance is my form of not only contribution to others, but my own motivation on my journey.
Expression lays the groundwork to live a full life. For me, it’s to close my eyes, see what’s inside and be OK with and celebrate what I see.
I believe in living and traveling off the beaten path, finding my own way; which can sometimes be a struggle. I aspire to live with courage and bravery, and because every single one of us knows how short this life of ours can be, the time for living is now.”
…………………………………………….. ‘The Patrons’ Lawrence French and Gregory Sargowicki ……………………………………………..
“We are both so far out of the closet that we often joke that there isn’t a closet big enough for us anymore to get back into. We enjoy and support the arts, especially the performing arts, and reflect that in our appearance. We wear bright, flamboyant styles that are a bit theatrical. We surround ourselves with people who give of themselves and enjoy life to its fullest.
We own a catering company as well as an event facility, and our expression comes through being noticed and memorable, at all times, whether we are out working, socializing or enjoying life.
Part of our expression is the work we do to make a better life for others in the community – support of charities, groups and causes to benefit the underserved or under–represented.
We want to be known and remembered as Gregory and Lawrence, two guys who are fun, giving, caring and who enjoy life and want to make it more enjoyable for all of those who they come into contact with.”
“I express myself through my artwork, my designs or from just walking into a room with a big smile on my face – most people have a hard time not smiling back. I play a berimbau, which is an instrument of Capoeira, representing the musical nature of the art. Capoeira to me represents the musical, athletic, combative and graceful parts of who I am. I love looking good and I especially love when people notice my style and dress. I have started to put my artwork on clothes and creating a side profession out of it through my website AfroTriangleDesigns.com.
Expression for me is how I am perceived in the world through my dress, the way I act, the way I carry myself, through the art I make, the way I move and how I sound. Individuality is key for me, and I love confident, caring people who just do their own thing, regardless of what others around them are up to. I’ve always pursued what interested me and I like it when those around me do the same.
My confidence will always set me apart – I carry myself with a comfort and grace which makes people see me as someone who knows what she wants and will get it!”
…………………………………………….. ‘The Open Book’ Leo Kattari ……………………………………………..
“Both my partner and I are sex educators. The props in this photo are stuffed STI’s: syphilis and herpes. I work at a statewide nonprofit, Colorado Youth Matter, working to ensure young people have access to sexual health information that empowers them and is non–judgmental.
As a trans man, my gender expression communicates who I am and how to interact with me. Most of my life I expressed my gender through clothes, hair and body language, and that was perceived by others to conflict with the gender they assumed I was. My gender expression is essentially the piece of my identity that I am always hyper–aware of and consciously performing.
My individual expression encompasses my various identities from my gender to being an advocate for social justice. As a white, middle class trans person who has a wonderfully supportive network of friends and family, I recognize that I have a lot of privilege. It’s most important for me to use that privilege to be open about my experiences because not all trans people can be. Also, as someone who passes most of the time as a straight guy, it’s important to me that my queer identity is recognized.
Most of the time you’ll find me sporting a quirky, humorous t-shirt (like the one in this photo: a picture of sushi and underneath it says ‘This is how I roll,’ which signifies my easygoing nature, and I seldom pass up the opportunity to dress things up with a bowtie (extra points if it sparkles).”
‘The Superlesbo Hipster’ Rachael Axtman
“I love to take photos; there is no prop or subject too ordinary to make into art. I take pictures every day and upload them on Instagram (@superlesbo). It helps me to feel connected with people who may not be right in front of me.
My individual and unique expression comes through and from my art, whether it’s the melted crayon on canvas medium, my instagram photography, my tattoos or the conversations I have with others. I’m expressive through my inquisitiveness, too. I prefer to ask questions whenever possible and learn from other people’s experiences.
I feel most expressive when I and others see my tattoos, when I’m making art come to life or when I’m laughing with friends. My expressions translate from my physical body, to my personality and quirks.
My tattoos set me apart the most, but conversation is where I feel most alive, present and me. I am very comfortable with what makes me different and have found that at times it pleasantly surprises others around me who may have not opened up otherwise.”
“As a full time mom, my everyday life is pretty much consumed with ‘mom’ related things. My children have helped shape the way I view the world, and I try to see the world through their eyes, which allows me to be the best mom, ally and advocate for my kids. Humor is critical to my survival, as well as my boys’. I believe that finding the spark of humor – that hopefully evolves into a laugh – can ultimately change how we view our situations and the world around us.
It doesn’t matter if I am entertaining my boys with an interpretive dance to one of our favorite songs, Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” or if I am engaging people in conversations they may usually shy away from. Humor, when used appropriately, allows people to feel safe, and in turn more open to difficult conversations. My sense of humor is the premise for everything about my expression, from how I parent my two children, to how I interact with people I meet and how I view the world.
I try to see at least a little nugget of humor in all situations, no matter how seemingly dark and hopeless they may seem.”
…………………………………………….. ‘The Black Butterfly’ Lonnell Callum ……………………………………………..
“I’ve come to a place in my life where I have finally digested the man that I am, and the man that I’m becoming. The way I look is a part of who I am, but the leather and props in this photo don’t define me as a whole. I am like a caterpillar coming out of its cocoon; I am a gentleman who happens to be black, and who enjoys the leather and fetish lifestyle.
I am not as unique as I once thought, but I live my own life in a different way. I am open to suggestions about who I am, but I respect myself today, which allows me to respect others.
My individual expression is more than just my style and dress; it’s my attitude. I feel the most truly expressive by just being me. What I mean is that I strive to do something better for myself through being of service to others and by taking a genuine interest in what others have to offer. I have found that by just being ‘real’ and ‘authentic,’ I am expressing myself enough.
Being named Mr. Leather Colorado 2013 has allowed me to celebrate and enjoy my role in the fetish arena of the leather community. Leather culture is not what it has been in the past. Now, it’s very mainstream and I’m finding more and more that many people still have a misconceived notion that leather is debaucherous, kinky or sleazy. But I would say that Leather is an attitude: I’m passionate about Leather and I look damn good in it!”
…………………………………………….. ‘The Bibliophilic Femme’ Elisabeth Long ……………………………………………..
“I love big books! I sleep with them, write in them, buy too many of them, share ‘em with lovers, check ‘em out at house parties, hurt my back carrying to many around, and I’m preparing for a professional life covered in ‘em. I am a sex–positive femme who expresses an over–the–top ‘too much’ femininity and I prefer libraries over malls, writing over small talk, stories and theory and a glass of whiskey over pretty much everything.
I resist B.S. notions of ‘femme–ininity’ as passive and consumable in my sexual celebration of self–determined desire and unapologetic pleasure. What is often seen about me is an overtly sexual femininity, loud gender and loud politics. But what is often not seen is my introversion, my connection with animals, my sensitivity and emotional expression. I think of a courage in my convictions, healing and justice-lovin’, deep dreamin’, stilettos–and–fishnets–wearin’, sensitive and fierce femme babe.
I feel most like me in the sea, in vintage lingerie reading and writing in solitude, proving my worth to aloof (non–human) animals, listening to stories and telling others how fabulous they are.
Other people have told me that what sets me apart is my fierce desire to love, and a kind of firm tenderness. Also, my ability to hold on to cultural contradictions and orient myself within them. I continue to try and make those things others see about me a reality.”
‘The People’s Paintslinger’ Laurie Maves
“It’s great being an artist – I can wear what I want, have my hair how I want. I’m drawn to people who have an approach to life that sees it as a sacred thing, with a purpose – I find more and more of these friends these days are in search of that, inspired and consciously seeking purpose.
Sometimes I feel like I have this God–given gift, that I’ve always been an artist and have only more recently connected to it. I’m here to serve other people; when someone comes to me to paint a painting for them, it’s a spiritual thing that serves a greater need.
The easiest way for me to be expressive is painting, and taking creative approaches to things from my style to how I solve problems. Painting – creativity – helps me in everyday life to know there is more than one way to do something.” . .
…………………………………………….. ‘The Philosopher’ Mary McDonough ……………………………………………..
“Expression seems so external to me, it is an individual’s personal mode but can only be read or interpreted by the rest of the world. I feel most myself is when I am writing and thinking. I don’t wake up in the morning and say to myself: ‘I’m going to be expressive today!’ Rather, I wake up and say ‘Today, I’m going to be myself.’
My (poetry) notebook is my totem; my companion and my appendage. When I leave it at home I feel like I have no knuckles or connective tissue. It represents me and my work.
Individual expression is just that, it is individual. Physically, I think my butch identity sets me apart. My interest in art and poetry doesn’t set me apart so much as it helps me communicate with other people interested in community. My expression is the look on my face; the breadth of my shoulders. When I’m on stage and I lock eyes with someone I’ve never met but know that I know them in the depths of me, they understand, too.
Most days when I look in the mirror, I feel charming, oh so charming.”
…………………………………………….. ‘The Stage Stomper’ Andrea StaxXx ……………………………………………..
“I feel like I don’t blend in, and hopefully people can appreciate what’s unique and different about me and not say that I look like just another drag queen. I’ve been known for rocking the red hair, and my specific style of dress. I really love being just a bit different; people notice when you stand out.
I think someone’s style tells you a lot about a person and how they carry themselves in life. I have a mix: I like being pretty and buying that cute dress to wear out, and then I also love being a little bit more on the dark side and love anything with crosses, spikes, skulls, cheetah prints, and that’s what I would say most people know Andrea for. I like being creepy, but like to keep the creepy pretty. I love things that are out of the ordinary, and that’s really what I’m all about.
I’m definitely most expressive when I’m on stage performing, especially when it involves choreography because I’ve put work into my whole number and I want to show everyone what I can do both through my style, dress and performance.”
…………………………………………….. ‘The Chameleon’ Jack Morgan ……………………………………………..
“I think of myself as being able to fit into any segment of the community. I can be me dressed in a tux at an HRC dinner, decked out in leather at the Denver Eagle, wearing a suit and tie for work, or put on a cowboy hat and boots to dance at Charlie’s. I always aim to try something different or new in life. I don’t want to set boundaries until I try it. I am adventurous and change my plans on a dime. But I’m the same person wherever I am.
I can have conversations with intellectuals and get fueled by talking to them about big ideas, or I can laugh with a comic. One of my gifts, or something that sets me apart, is my ability to piece together different aspects of different communities: that allows me to relate to anyone.
As a Colorado native who has moved around a lot, I keep coming back home, and my Country Western style is representational of home. I used to not feel comfortable at dance clubs, but that changed once I found country bars like Charlie’s.
I’m a rescue diver, so most of my tattoos are aquatic, like my most recent: a giant coy transforming into a phoenix. I just moved back to Colorado, and needed something was representative of a new start or rebirth. This tattoo is a reflection of me, where I’ve been, and who I am.
The country western lifestyle is also reflective of a down to earth and humble nature, and that is something I love and identify with. Being honest and truthful and doing what I enjoy sets me apart.
I’m a helper. If I can impact someone, or help them, my life will have been worth it.”
About The Photos
Hans–Rosemond has been an active magazine, portrait and headshot photographer for the last seven years. He enjoys all things film – from The Lord of The Rings to Dumb and Dumber. The only thing better than a good movie is making the subjects in front of his camera look and feel like rock stars. Hans is especially excited to see the ongoing struggle for marriage equality finally making progress.
Laurie–Maves, featured in this photo essay, lent her warehouse–style but intimate studio – new to her this year – to Out Front’s photo shoot with visions of turning it into a place that supports her community. “It’s my office on a daily basis,” she said, “and a place for people to meet and find out what I’m about. I’ve been looking for something like that for a long time – it’s a private space but I have a feeling that it’s going to be serving the community in a creative way.”