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.
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.
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.