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How is the queer boy's imagination given life? I have often asked myself this question as I navigated the middle space of who I am and what the world depicts me to be in visual culture. I surmise that images that have gone on to represent COUTUREBOY have always been a kind of Horcrux, an object that holds a detached fragment of my soul as I see myself in the world that perpetrates emotional, visual, and physical damage to personage. As long I could hold on to my imagination through images, the part of me attacked by society could keep living. With this brown life, one becomes acutely aware at an early age that there is a lot of violence to attend to trying to live a queer life. A life where the non-normative is pushed or dragged into closets and tightly shut. Or a life where family religious teachings, which I could never really embrace, ran counter to the desires of my queer imagination. It was always a quest for beauty. What I know for sure is I cannot speak for every queer boy, as our traumas or absence of particular kinds of traumas are uniquely different. I can only uniquely speak to my experiences growing up in the South in the 70s and 80s. I am not talking about queerness as only defined by sexuality. I am speaking about my presence that generated a space different from what my environment required or expected from the norm. However, my presence shifted the people in time and space who loved me to make room for what they did not understand or languaged as the feminine and not the masculine. As a child, I toyed with both and loved deeply in defiance and sometimes in refusal of my supposed differences. In my quest to understand male beauty, no more essential figures than the men in the attached picture played a vital role in my imagination than my late uncles, Cecil, and Ivory Sharp. They are the DNA and first embodiment of a COUTURBOY—flawed, masculine, athletic with moments of softness, sophistication, and imbued with style.

COUTUREBOY is a studio multidisciplinary practice that operates at the intersection of identity, photography, commerce, and advertising theory. It is my queer imagination set free as a critique of a particularly glamorized form of masculinity that informed my identity through my Uncles Cecil and Ivory Sharp. It is an ongoing inquiry of a potential life uninterrupted by depicting the best of their unresolved imagined selves and, in some cases, showing their vulnerability, often overshadowed by societal expectations of masculinity by focusing on the human presence, not just a body.