The Brother to Brother t-shirt graphic is based on the first edition cover of the anthology by the same name; edited by Essex Hemphill and Joseph Beam in 1991. It's full of poems and stories of black men connecting with each other and sharing experiences of love and loss.
Brother to Brother (and books like it) have given me, and future generations a roadmap for connection, love and friendship between men that is not consumed with toxic masculinity and violence.
I want to honor those that were a part of putting this book together. I feel affirmed knowing that I am apart of such a beautiful lineage. At the same time, I'd like to create a kind of visual through-line from the past to my present reality as a Black, queer trans man. I am also interested in exploring Black masculinity and all of its complexity.
I grew up a boy loving other boys too. But being born in a body designated female made my community, family and society at large see those connections as inherently valid and worthy. Physically transitioning made me see myself for the first time in the mirror, but it also made connections with other men infinitely more complicated.
All of a sudden, in the eyes of many, it was not okay to love openly. To be tender in friendship. To imagine a radical future together, out loud.
There were new rules of engagement at play here. Things to figure out about myself and the men I loved in a new world where "masc" is seen as currency, and softness in any degree as undesirable and weak. I looked to partners, friends, homieloverfriends and books like Brother to Brother to re-locate myself here.
The visuals are an ongoing mixed-media exploration of black masculinity – including photography, collage, animation, curation, writing (from the anthology) as well as other concepts and ideas.
To the countless people that were lost in the 1980s and 1990’s to complications from HIV & AIDS — including Joseph Beam and Essex Hemphill — may the legacy of your work, love and fight never be forgotten.
If you'd like to collaborate or discuss the project, fill out the form on the contact page.