Queer Feelings

From the Queer Feelings photos series by Adrien Leavitt.

I sometimes write as a form of meditation, one in which I attempt to make sense for myself in a vastly unknown world. I use it to convey ideas to other people about what, why, and how it is that I know what I know. It is a delicate balance of what I’m thinking, and what I am feeling. I collect my thoughts by engaging in some kind of experience with the world. It always produces conscious and subconscious feelings. I put that experience back through a long digestive tract of thought, yak up a few fragmented feels, and eventually a little truth emerges.

They are the
wiry and wild hairs
that grow in recklessly
across your
bright shiny face
after the many missed
at the mercy
of a malevolent mind

They are the
altogether complicated
things that do damage
to your head
before you even get
up the courage
to casually invite them
intimately inside you

They are the
battle lines drawn
in the flesh
across your chest
in a glorious victorious
coup d’état
that they helped you fight

They are the
of day dreams
followed by the
of night screams

They are the
riskiest chance
that you
should not have
even ever took

They are the
last look
left in your
lit up eyes
before I told you
that they are not mine.

I think and I feel
I am.

I was inspired to explore my feelings about feelings and queerness by participating in a photo series curated called Queer Feelings, by the tenderly talented Adrien Leavitt. I had seen friends of mine participating and was captivated by their bare and brave ability to open themselves up to being viewed in such an intimately raw way. Each person involved is pictured in a special part of their home, in positions that suspend one’s beliefs about feelings in lieu of understanding the subjects.

“Queer Feelings is an exploration of queerness and our intimate relationship with our bodies, both physically and emotionally,” Adrien says, about the project. “This exploration started as a personal narrative. I have photographed myself over the past number of years as a way to conceptualize my own gender different body; helping myself heal from the trauma the outside world inflicts on queer bodies. Through formalizing the work, and expanding the subject to include other queer bodies, I wish to continue to explore our shared vulnerability, intimacy, and beauty held in person’s relationship with their own body.”

I contacted Adrien after seeing him put out an open call seeking participants. I had been losing my thoughts and feelings down a quicksand of doubt. I desperately sought a meaningful experience with someone in order to pull myself out of this sinking hole and reconnect with myself to write again.

“I’ve had the sweetest, most intentional experiences with people doing these shoots,” he says. “It’s been really nice.”

After engaging in a little preliminary discussion of feelings, I was able to take the first breath of fresh air I’d had in weeks.

Adrien came over to my home a few days later.We decided to shoot in a place where I felt most comfortable getting naked: my shower. It would also convey the most of me through his vision. It’s a place I am in every day and a space I go into for clarity and relief. It’s also where I am the most aware and in touch with body.

Any sense of discomfort I had about opening myself up like this went right down the drain. While I was spending this intimate time with Adrien, I was washing myself clean from all of the negative thoughts I had been so consumed by and upset about. He made me feel validated and appreciated for being present and aware of my queerness. Every droplet of water that came down during that shower was a different feeling felt sliding down my body, only to be let go to make way for many more.

It is difficult to admit that I am not always content with how I am feeling or what I am doing. I understand that my existence is prone to changing in ways that I can’t expect or may be particularly open to.

Through this process, I discovered that Queer Feelings are always involved in something; whether it is a concept, a process, a problem, a solution, myself, or another human. I’ve realized that I must give them adequate attention and then be able to reconcile them with the reality in which I find myself. Nobody else is going to do it for me.

This project opens us up to sharing our different experiences and modes of feeling. This is an opportunity for us to dig deeper and discuss how we use our bodies to navigate both the visible, physical world, and the abstract, emotional world.

I want to leave you with one meditation to reflect on. There is no knowledge without feeling, there is no action without feeling, there is no perception without feeling, and there is no recollection without feeling. Feelings play a regulative role to ensure the sustenance and continuity of the self. Whatever form they take, they are always the silver lining to remind us that we matter.

The project currently exists online, with a few of the images from each photo shoot selected to share. Adrien is currently planning at least one show over the summer, with many more details to come over the next few months. You can follow the progress on Instagram and Tumblr.