Intimate Photos Of LGBTQ Youth In The Deep South

We rarely talk about the LGBTQ communities living beyond the cities that host our country’s most iconic gay pride parades.

May 25, 2018

As early as the late 1800s, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and other liberal urban centers became safe havens for gay folk seeking refuge from discrimination. Even today, we rarely talk about the LGBTQ+ communities living beyond the few cities that host our country’s most iconic gay pride parades.

Yet, all across America—and the world—people who don’t fit into stringent categories of gender and sexuality—“male/ female,” “gay/straight”—continue to find understanding in one another. These networks of support remain particularly important in the American South where discrimination is alive and well. Large Southern cities like Austin, Atlanta, and New Orleans—which has historically been a hub for LGBTQ+ Southerners—have growing gay communities, but coming into oneself in the rural towns outside of them is still often a brutally isolating experience.

Rian With Friends.2017 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford

It’s one that Atlanta-based photographer Peyton Fulford had while raised in the Sanctified Holy Church in a small Southern town.

“For the majority of my life,” she writes to Herb. “I was unsure of where I belonged in the world.” Fulford felt she couldn’t be her “truest, most open self” while conforming to the ideologies of her hometown. It wasn’t until she turned 21 that she finally came out and, as a form of self-exploration, began to tell the stories of others like her.

In her photo essay “Infinite Tenderness,” she captures the queer kids of the Deep South in moments of honesty: their sadness, their hopes, their loves. She never goes into shoots with expectations but rather lets them unfold organically. As she says, “the human condition is complex and always evolving.”

Two years later, the project is ongoing. The series is in several shows this year, including leading international photography fair Photo London, which took place in May at The Somerset House.

Rachel and Gabby.2017 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Kayana.2017 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Becoming One Annie and Trevor.2016 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Grace and Emmett.2017 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Searching for the Light Maggy.2017 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Hayden.2017 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Graham.2016 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Frances.2016 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
FrancesGrace and Gabi.2016 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Backbend.2016 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Hayden and Conor.2017 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Hannah In Her Bedroom.2016jpg Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
Graham and Summer.2016 Congress Blocks Recreational Marijuana Sales In Washington, D.C.
Photo by Peyton Fulford | @PeytonFulford
May 25, 2018