The photographer named Lawrence Philomene is the kind of person who leaves us quaking with admiration; they have shot for brands like The Vogue to Netflix, but as an artist have managed to carve out their own aestethic and stayed true to it. Despite a penchant for super-bold block colors, Philomene’s portrait work has a distinct sensitivity to it, something that comes from making friends with their subjects and allowing them to decide how they want to be depicted. Lawrence Philomene, 23 years old, identify as non-binary. Their latest serie feature people who identify as non-binary too, this project started last year and I, personally, adore it. They capture the nuances of gender expression with extreme intimacy.
As someone who love both creating by art and photography (and who’s work has mainly been about masculinity and femininity) I can relate to Philomene. They, just as I, use their way of creating in a hope of finding themselves. They put masculinity and femininity in their work and tried to understand what it meant for them, just as I do. I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, which is probably why I’m still creating in the same way as I did two years ago. I remember just by young age how I felt uncomfortable being called a ‘girl’ because it always seemed to hide away the masculinity I felt inside. This pushed me to a “Am I transgender?” For awhile but the most emotionally resonant thing for me to do is to reject the gender binary in so far as my own interiotiry and accept that I’ll most likely never feel comfortable exclusively identifying as a boy or a girl.
I think the biggest thing is realising that there is no way to be non-binary. It’s not just a stereotypical “Arab person who’s into menswear and has a short haircut”. There are so many different ways to express the physically of being non-binary and so many combinations between male, female, neither or both – all of which has nothing to do with anyones bodies. The stereotypical rumour that circles around non-binary is that they all look adrogynous. The non-binary experience is not just limited to your physical presentation, it’s something that can in a lot of ways feel intrinsict to your personality and your essential ‘way to be”. Reminder that you don’t have to prove your gender to anyone. Just be you
People are luckily becoming more positive and aware of terms such as non-binary, queer etc. In a way and besides the tremendous amount of work our community needs in order for every human being to feel safe, people have a lot more to access on the internet right now and they can look up at people identifying as something else that heterosexual and cis. With help from Lawrence’s serie Non-binary this can really help, and the term can eventually become something regular and normal. Unfortunately, white people who identify as non-binary gets more attention and visibility because we are privileged in our ability to feel safe revealing ourselves as such – we need to be careful not to apply racist one-dimensional gender stereotypes to people of color.
I express gender just as I express my moods; it’s a flow, it’s not a static and it can be all over the place.