Diptych portrait of Coco M.

Coco M.


How would you identify your sexuality?

A lover of ladies!

Why did you choose to be a part of this project?

My friend Jena said she had a friend in town working on a photography project called Gayface. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I love to support the community and especially other artists and have been pleasantly surprised at how it’s unfolded.

What do you think of your portrait?

It encapsulates my personality perfectly: shy and awkward, but happy.

Describe your coming out. Are you coming out in some way by participating in this project?

I was lucky, I to came out to a very open group of family and friends. I didn’t explicitly say “hey, I’m gay,” but there was a girl I hung out with every day, and when I started putting extra effort into my appearance, my family noticed and connected the dots. Having a conversation about labels or identity felt awkward because I really didn’t know what was going on at the time—I just dove into this new gay world. I’m grateful to have had a positive experience and accepting family because I know many others have very serious struggles.

Having a conversation about labels or identity felt awkward because I really didn’t know what was going on at the time—I just dove into this new gay world.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your gender or sexual orientation?

As a female, discrimination is inevitable, whether it’s intentional or not. California is really open, which makes being open easy and comfortable. However, during a recent trip to Morocco, my girlfriend and I avoided physical contact because we feared being mistreated. Any time we take a trip, we have to take that extra step to know the laws around homosexuality, but also what’s generally accepted by society.

If you could change one thing about mainstream society to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people, what would it be?

Violence against others. People should never be abused because of their identity—it creates fear, inhibits people from living honestly, and perpetuates a hostile environment. I understand that xenophobia comes from confusion, or sometimes disappointment, but it’s not okay to abuse others verbally, mentally, or physically.

Describe how this project has affected you, both personally and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Gayface has done an excellent job of showing all types of people within the community. The project has brought together strangers from across the country who may not have much in common aside from being a little different. When the giant posters were put up, it felt like I was waving hello to everyone in the community. I love how each personality is captured by the two photos; the closed eye version is just another person on the street, but the second image allows that person to really be seen—they remind us that people really just want to be happy and accepted as they are.

What advice have you been given by another LGBTQ+ person, or that you might offer someone?

The best thing you can do is be there for someone else—if you know someone who is going through similar struggles, support each other. Life is easier with a friend by your side and you never have to be alone.