Photo First: Profiles in Gender

Photographer Dee Moore shares the stories of 10 artists (including herself) who are outside the binary norm


PHOTOGRAPHS AND STORY BY DEE MOORE


For me it all ended when I was eight years old and screaming that I was a boy and begging to be allowed to go to the boys’ bathroom at a posh restaurant. My mother told me I had to use the girls’ bathroom because I was a girl. I said no, I am going to grow a penis. I am going to be a boy. But I was told in no uncertain terms that day that I was not going to ever grow a penis. I was going to stay a girl.

I never felt comfortable in girls’ clothes. I was happiest in T-shirts, sneakers or boots, short hair, and no makeup. But I had a greater desire to fit in so I learned to apply makeup, to wear women’s clothing, to do my hair and to conform. Though try as I might, this didn’t last long. Like pulling on a costume or plastering up a façade,  it came off or it cracked and I returned to T-shirts, ripped jeans and boots. The only thing that really stuck was the makeup.

Dee Moore

Growing up in Southeast Texas in the ’80s there really weren’t words at the time for the way I felt, the angst and discomfort that gnawed away at me. It was easier to understand that I was bisexual than it was that I was caught somewhere between male and female. But all of those things were shoved into a deep dark closet thanks to culture, environment, religion and hate. It took awhile to unpack it all.

I began exploring my internal chaos while taking sculpture classes in college. It was easier to visually express it than it was to write about it. Today, I am still exploring the same topics – gender, identity, sexuality, self – in visual arts as a photographer and as a sculptor. During the day I work as a freelance journalist.

Most of my work intentionally has a post-apocalyptic, cataclysmic feel. The locations were chosen because the spaces convey a longing for beauty and demonstrate that there is beauty to be found in corruption, destruction and annihilation. The photos are kinetic and are meant to convey motion to make the viewer feel constantly in flux. They are sharp, yet blurred, the lighting stark and blown out.

For this project I took my self-exploration to a new level. I decided to use myself as the last model. There’s something very dangerous about self portraits. It’s a barrier that I’ve seldom crossed. There is a fear, but of what? I needed to explore this fear, to determine what it was that I was afraid of seeing or not seeing.

Personal info:  My name is Dee Moore. I am originally from Beaumont, Texas, which is less than an hour from the Gulf Coast. I studied journalism and art at Lamar University in Beaumont. I currently live in the Salem Metro Area where I work, sculpt and shoot. I am genderfluid (this is one word) and bisexual.


ALICE


Name: Alice Natalie Limer
Age: 19
Current Residence: Salem
From: Eugene
Orientation: Pan/Lesbian
Gender: Trans-Fem
Pronouns: She/Her

I am usually seen sleeping as my form of art, but I do play bass guitar, vocals, and I write more than I think.


ALLEX


Name: Allex Haro (Drag name: Boujee Cherry)
Age: 23
Current residence: Portland
From: Crescent City, California
Orientation: Gay
Gender: Cis Male
Pronouns: He/She/They/Them

Performer, Dancer, Makeup Artist

I relate to androgyny because no matter what I do I never feel held back from doing something feminine or something masculine. I can always do a mixture of both and know I can rock it, helps me be comfortable in my skin, just how I am.


BRIT


Name: Benjamin Zeeb (Drag name: Brit Neon)
Age: 22
Current residence: Vancouver, Washington
From: McMinnville
Gender: Genderfluid/ Bi-gender
Orientation: Gay
Pronouns: They/Them

I’d say my primary art form is related to drag/performance/cosmetics. I feel that this is my direct connection to how I express my gender-fluidity through blending masc and femme aesthetics.


CAMERON


Name: Cameron Egan
Age: 21
From: San Luis Obispo, California
Current residence: Idanha, Oregon
Gender: Cis Male
Orientation: Gay

Dancer, Model, Makeup Artist

I relate to androgyny because of the fact it’s no boundaries. There are no rules. You’re making them as you go. You have the fluidity of being a male (in my persona) and having the ability to wear, use and be girly. However you view it. I do what makes me happy, what could influence those around me. Pushing the limits, mainly. I love that I have the comfort of wearing what I want, how I see fit and having no one to be able to say no or question me if I don’t like it I don’t wear it.

I feel it’s essential to be into your masculinity and femininity. Why focus on one or the other? Why not feel free and blissful as you’re balancing both?


CHARLIE


Name: Charlie Leonaitis
Age: 27
Current residence: Vancouver, Washington
From: Mississippi
Gender: Nonbinary
Orientation: Pan
Pronouns: They/Them

Textile Artist

Learning that gender is a spectrum was probably the most liberating, life-saving information I’ve ever acquired. I knew in that moment that I wasn’t broken.


JENNI


Name: Jenni Smith
Age: 35
Current residence: Keizer
From: New York
Gender: Cis Female
Orientation: Lesbian
Pronouns: She/Her

Painter using acrylic and oils – abstract/impressionist style.

Gender is confusing. Social construct versus personal autonomy. I believe people should be able to do what feels right to them if it isn’t impeding on others’ rights to safety and to choose. Your body, your choice. Androgyny is attractive to me, like having good qualities from both genders. Don’t we all have a bit of feminine and masculine in us? Some days its jeans and a hoodie and other days it’s a dress and makeup. I don’t think hermit crabs worry about what their shell looks like, they are the same inside anyway.


KING


Name: King Whitman (Performance name: King Sundancer)
Age: 24
Current residence: Portland
From: Portland
Gender: Cis Male
Orientation: Queer
Pronouns: He/Him
Dancer/Performer

We have had a lot of great influences throughout media of androgyny. My favorite was more of the past artists that were androgynous like David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Prince, Madonna, and many more talented people that showed us to mess with gender and that it’s okay to be yourself.


KRISTINA


Name: Kristina McArthur
Age: 39
Current Residence: Salem
From: Florida
Gender: Genderfluid
Orientation: Pansexual
Pronouns: She/Her/They/Them

An oil painter of things.

How I relate to and feel about gender, specifically androgyny, is it is a natural state of being. I don’t know how to be anything else, I cannot see myself as “female” or “male,” I just, am. I never really fit in being masculine, and never really fit in being feminine. I fall somewhere in between.


MARLO


Name: Marlo Pereyra
Age: 20
Current residence: Salem
From: Salem
Gender: Cis Female
Orientation: Bisexual
Pronouns: She/Her

My art of choice is singing. I sing in my school choir and the River City Rock Star Academy.

How I feel about gender/ androgyny is a hard question to answer but I guess it all boils down to how one expresses themselves. I like to play with gender with the clothing I wear. I like to almost dress up like a different person each time I get dressed. It’s exciting to me that I can create an identity with clothing and can portray myself in any way I like. I get to decide how the world sees me and who they think I am and I feel power from that. I also feel power in confusing people. I want people to wonder about me. I’ve never ever wanted to be someone people can just forget. In my option gender is about the expression of one’s true self.


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