As a society, ambiguity makes us uncomfortable. Society wants everything to be binary: black or white, male or female, gay or straight, feminine or masculine. We live our lives with these ideals, but as we evolve within ourselves, most of us begin to realise we may not fit within these binary boxes. These boxes suffocate us from our true potential and that makes life at times difficult to bear. Thanks to the evolution of our intelligence, compassion, and frustrations of the world, many of us are standing up and demanding to be seen, to be heard, and most importantly demanding to heal because we will be invisible no more.
The I Identify as Me documentary and photo series’ goal is to do just that. The objective is to challenge societal ideals and show that gender fluidity is beautiful. We can find comfort in the gray area, we don’t need to fit into a box to deserve love and respect. More specifically this project is a platform to celebrate queer masculine-presenting and gender fluid women/gender non-conforming (GNC) people who are every minority race under the sun. Women/GNC can be masculine and feminine at the same time. As women/GNC people, we can work on our cars and get pedicures; we can keep our body hair wherever we want and wear makeup, we can wear clothing that is traditionally made for men and not necessarily want to become a man, because now is the time to love ourselves for who we are.
Three queer women from very different backgrounds and talents have come together to direct and produce this amazing project.
Monick Monell is a leader for queer-trans people of color (QTPOC) and within the entire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (or Trans), Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community. She works for the LGBTQIA+ community as a New York City (NYC) Correspondent for The Unleashed Voice Magazine (TUV), Rainbow Fashion Week, and SAGE USA #Sagetable. She commits to helping others to find safe spaces and information about LGBTQIA+ shelters and medical places within the area. This work is very important to her.
'I have lived most of my life in NYC; a city where same-sex marriage has been legally recognised. As masculine-presenting women/people, we still get whispers and stares from men and women, you would not believe it! We are misunderstood, but we still fight to be heard. How are you supposed to live in a place where you are supposed to live freely? Some days are frightening, but many days are joyful.
The I Identify as Me documentary will help validate our existence as androgynous women, genderqueer, and agender people. People have many ideas of how we should look or present ourselves. Working on this project will be an eye-opener, not just for the community, but our allies as well to express our right to be here and to be seen as human.'
Amanda Clare, born and raised in NYC, is a photographer and videographer whose work focuses on the raw natural beauty of each individual she captures. Her talent is to provide all of the people within her projects a safe space to be who they are in their purest form. She captures the essence and energy of what they may not know they possess. Amanda is an artist with genuine charm and wit, she strives to express the warmth and authentic truth of her subjects by creating a trustworthy and heartfelt connection with each and every one of them.
'Acceptance. The feeling of belonging. Being unapologetically myself. These are the things that I know I desire. But, for the most part, at least in NYC, I fit into the 'norm'. I don’t know what it feels like to walk down the street and constantly be judged by my appearance and the things that make me who I am. I don’t know what it feels like for someone to dislike me as soon as they lay their eyes on me.
The reason I’m doing this documentary and I’m so passionate about it, is because I admire the people we are highlighting. They are themselves every single day despite what others may say about them. They often go unheard, they’re so used to the negativity they receive from others, that it has become 'normal' to them. I personally think that is a huge problem. We, as a society can do better.
I want to help give QTPOC who identify as androgynous, genderqueer or agender people a voice. Their own voice. To give them a chance to tell their story in their own way. To make them feel like they are important because they are. They matter. I want people to see the life they experience. You’ll end up finding out that they go through a lot of the same feelings you do. Heartbreak, sadness, joy, what it’s like to be in love, how it feels to not belong.
I’m doing this because everyone deserves to be accepted, to feel like they belong, and to be their unapologetically beautiful selves.'
Tina Colleen is a queer body positive activist who uses art to promote activism that inspires love and healing for people of color. Her most recent project is the Black Queer Goddess Project: The Plus-Size Femme. It is a body positive photo series that celebrates black queer plus-size feminine women. Her creative background extends to writing for Wear Your Voice Magazine, event planning, and producing social/environmental justice fashion shows.
'This project for me stems from love. I usually date masculine-presenting and gender fluid women/people. Their fluidity and courage to present who they truly are daily is so beautiful to me. Yet, I have watched friends and lovers struggle to live their lives just because of the clothes they wear. Most of these women/people are the kindest people I have ever met. Their lives have impacted me directly and indirectly and that is what moved me to create this platform for them. I’m doing this for the women/people I love, have loved, and will love in the future. I want the world to see these incredible women/people for who they are on the inside.'