Words & Images © Elianel Clinton. Team New York No. 1.
A year ago I was heavily inspired by a news story that came out about Giovanni Melton, a 14 year old gay teenager who was shot by his own father. According to his foster mother, the father, Wendell Melton, shot Giovanni because he was against his son’s sexual orientation. Giovanni’s foster mother stated “he’d (Wendell Melton) rather have a dead son then a gay son.”
Today, just as in the past, many people within the LGBTQ community are being killed, harassed and treated unfairly simply because of who they choose to love or what gender, if any, they identify as. With Giovanni’s story in mind, I set out to create a photographic fashion essay specifically for the queer youth of today: a visual message of hope and hardship, something to inspire them to be themselves and to be proud of who they are, a message letting them know that they are not alone in this world and that many others share similar experiences with them.
In my work I strive to get past the cliché ideas of contemporary fashion and gender conformity which dictates what a man or woman should or shouldn’t wear. With this project I chose to collaborate specifically with people of color as I also wanted to shine a light on the diversity we don’t see enough of in the industry today. I want more queer black boys and girls, as well as Hispanics of all shapes and sizes to see themselves in this body of work and let them know that one, we need to stay strong and two, we stick together.
To see more work by Elianel, please visit his website.