Photography Asafe Ghalib
Styling Giulio Cascini
Art Director Gloria Cialfi
Interview Adrien Yakimov Roberts

Rebelling against toxic masculine images and always finding gender conformity uninteresting myself, although I’m from a very different generation, I know it’s something that I was aware of as a child, has it always been this way for you? What were your early feelings? I’ve always known that I was I. It’s been as instinctual as turtles to the ocean currents or the falcons to the sky. However, despite this deep inherent knowledge of truth, I found my mind fighting, gasping for breath to surface above what I wastoldtobe.WhoIwastoldtobe.HowIwastoldtobe. Reflecting the aesthetics and roles society sprung upon me always felt like a lie. And to some extent, a robbery.

Growing up, did you have any role models, did you admire anyone, or was there a total void as you felt unrepresented?
I didn’t have any specific role models growing up. My family was off the grid and in the depths of poverty so access to television, news or even popular music was rare. Most of the people I admired were in my immediate surroundings. But I never really connected deeply with them because they were always clearly part of a systemic society. Later on, when I found freedom, I fell in love with the likes of Erykah Badu, Jane Goodall, Sigourney Weaver and many many friends in selfless roles of activism.

Self-discovery is an interesting journey; do you think that living in these times there is more freedom, obviously depending where you live in the world, do you feel optimistic for the future?

I feel absolutely optimistic for the future. While it may seem like the world is more chaotic than ever, louder even, I would argue that this is a time where it is more connected than ever. Everyone is speaking because, for the first time, almost everyone can be heard. Vast swathes of people who have come before us were never able to be witnessed or remembered. They lived. They died. They were lost. These days with technology we can finally be in some capacity immortal and accessible.

I truly believe that through this new connectivity the world is literally breaking down borders and raising up ideas. We are swiftly finding solutions and can often even confront injustice overnight in a way never before possible. At the moment it may seem like many people are angry and screaming into the ethersphere. However, as we learn to wield this new tool of witnessing (aka social media) we will move towards powerful systemic changes through truth. It’s a battle with the past for our futures. It’s happening now. And if we remain steadfast, persistent, and patient yet expeditious, we will win.

Gender and identity are obviously not just about the way we dress, I love what I have read about how you “act”; how gesturing and movement is all part of

identity, how much of this is carried into life not just while shooting etc.?
Every day is a puzzle which, if solved, could unlock a brighter tomorrow. I used to feel like the binary world of male vs female was one of those puzzles. So I would shift my aesthetic to reflect whichever perceived gender expression would get me the most out of a situation. Male to walk home safely at night. Female to get free drinks.

But then, as I worked through my trauma and came to a resting place with my identity, I started to see the world not as ideas. But as individuals. People who behave certain ways not because of their gender roles but rather their unique lived experiences. Everyone has a different set of experiences, biases, and traumas. Once I began to realize this, I found myself not shifting my “masculinity” or “femininity” around people to connect with them, but rather I shifted my personal energy to meet their energetic language. It may be seemingly hippie-dippie but it’s powerful. It works. It’s the purest way to have the right to be treated as an individual, while addressing others as individuals as well. For some reason, besides gender identity, sexual orientation intrigues people, the “boxing” of gender and orientation seems to be so important in our current society, we love to stick a label on the jar, so we know the flavour.

Do you feel that we will ever arrive at a point that being a good person, in whatever we can be, will be of more importance than the rest, and is that your quest?

Yes. Once we address the impacts of gender, racial, sexuality and other based abuses I believe we will eventually reach a space where a person will not be their body but their BEING. The way they are. Not what they are. The only thing that ties us so deeply to our physicality is the devastating damage incurred towards our foundational well-being from historical hatred and bias. Less inherited wealth, employment opportunity, stability and opportunity. It may be scary but we need a bit of a reset and relaunch. It will happen. It will hurt. It will heal. We will become better because of it.

But just because we will be treated as individuals in the near future doesn’t mean that bias or prejudice won’t continue to exist. Humans as well as many other species have always had that as a difficult obstacle.

Reading about your life, eventually there seems to have been many happy coincidences, do you have plans or aspirations for the future or are you happy “going with the flow”?

I try to have a bit of a projected path towards some goals for the future. However, I’m very happy in a free fall of trust with this journey. Weaving in and out of the things NOW brings me and coming to terms with the THEN that was. I believe truly that come sadness or success I will always be sated.