Intimate expression of queer culture in Tokyo, Bangkok, and Hong Kong
Photography By Sway
In August 2012, I was in Tokyo with my partner. Our relationship was on the outs, we needed space, time apart, and freedom to be with other women. We talked about what we could do and instead of heading back to the states I decided I would stay in Tokyo and create the book of queer photography I’ve always dreamed about. Photographing Queers, people of like minds, is something I’ve been doing since I first picked up a camera. I was always surrounded by a community of drag kings n queens who were willing to indulge in my photo fantasies.
The last time I was in Asia and having drag withdrawals, I reached out and photographed Coco Pop, an infamous drag queen in Hong Kong. It was this connection that ignited my desire to photograph queer culture in Asia to create a book. Fast forward 4yrs later and I find myself in Tokyo with no reason to go back to the US. The time was now and the plan was to stay in Tokyo for 6 months with trips to Bangkok and Hong Kong to gather enough images for a book.
I found a short term apartment in Shinjuku, bought a bike on amazon.co.jp, and started networking. I began going to bars, clubs, fetish events, women only parties, drag shows, and I connected deeply with all who opened their worlds to me and my lens. Together we created lasting friendships and unforgettable images. Despite cultural differences, we’re all of the same tribe, we are all queer, with similar dreams, desires, heart ache and joys. This led me to a deeper exploration of what queer really means.
For me the term queer is being reclaimed by a new generation of individuals who feel limited by society’s binary gender sexual standards. Queer culture unites all sexual orientations and gender identities with shared values of acceptance, open mindedness, mutual respect, and community. Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, genderqueer, polyamorous, a dragster, kinkster, fetishist, sex worker, or just unique in your own way, we are all queer!
I want to show the faces of queer culture to the world, so the viewer and subject can connect as people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As a global queer community, we are empowering each other and the next generation by using our voices to come out, be heard, and demand acceptance, whether it’s through celebrities in the media, queer performers, or all the people in this book. This growing movement is nearing a tipping point of global acceptance that’s evident in the wide spread legalization of same sex marriage and a younger generation who are finding it more natural to embrace their unique identity.
To me, that’s the power of Queerography.
Queerography: Intimate expression of queer culture in Tokyo, Bangkok, and Hong Kong.
The book comes out this December. You can get it on Amazon or Queerography.org.