Iwas and continue to be thrilled with my portrait. I have used it on many occasions as my headshot—so often that a friend once commented that I needed to take another picture because I had worn that one out! In response, I recently asked Ash for another series of portraits.
I love the colorful background that I selected, and I still have the paper hanging in my living room.
I came out to my family and friends after I graduated from high school. I had some hiccups with family and friends around acceptance, but I generally experienced a sincere and appreciated response to coming out.
It’s pretty widely known that I am gay—my Instagram handle is @fagalho, after all, queering my last name, Fialho—so this project wasn’t too much of a coming out, other than to people who don’t know me.
Personally, my parents supported me in countless ways for the first eighteen years of my life; although when I told my mom that I was gay, she cried, fearing for my safety and probably mourning some of her lost dreams. My father and I didn’t speak for weeks after I came out to him. They are both very supportive now. I bring this all up to say that the fight required to love who we want—to be gay—is a process, at times immensely painful.
I think I would change how LGBTQ+ people often feel the need to perform, or overcompensate as a result of the trauma from growing up in a heteronormative society.
in the world, and it implies that there is some identifiable marker, phenotype, or facial expression that relates to sexual identity that can be read as gay. (Admittedly, I often think a man with a well-moisturized—or even a little Botoxed-face—might be the closest thing to a “gayface!”) Jokes aside, taking part in the project meant claiming my identity in a powerful and straightforward way for an audience outside of the one I know.
Rather than a typical celebrity as role model, I think the queer people I’ve celebrated in my life as friends, mentors and creative inspirations mean the most. For example, Buzz Bense (1949–2016), an ardent activist, seasoned performer, and sex-positive force in San Francisco throughout the ongoing AIDS crisis.
My dear friend and mentor Dan Cooney has meant a lot to me in recent years.
Queer authors and artists—too many to list definitively—have also been incredibly influential: Keith Haring, Richard Meyer, Lyle Ashton Harris, Kia LaBeija, Douglas Crimp, Gregg Bordowitz, Chloe Dzubilo, Viva Ruiz, F.lix Gonz.lez-Torres, and David Wojnarowicz come to mind, among so many others.