Letter from the Editor:
I am so proud and excited to share the very first guest post on this little website of mine by long-time friend and partner in artistic collaboration, Shanee Nadine. This post comes at a time when so much is uncertain and so much feels like movement backward. Yet, a great deal continues to be accomplished. Progress IS happening, how and where it can. Today's landmark Supreme Court case is worthy of our celebration. In that spirit, we present you this small series of art pieces that we've put together, and wish you happy LGBTQ pride on June 15, 2020, the day LGBTQ workers become protected by federal law.
I had the privilege of styling Hannah Faye for this photo shoot alongside my friend and talented photographer Tyler Steimle of Ghost Code Studios. I have an affinity for all things vintage, and fell in love with the vibe of The Commons, a local eatery on Cherry Street. So naturally, I reached out to ask if we could have a retro photo shoot there. They were enthusiastic and accommodating as we finished up our brunch and sunk into a cozy corner to begin shooting.
Hannah is strikingly beautiful with intense eyes, high cheekbones and legs for days. I was thrilled when she said she’d model for our shoot. I put together some looks for her from my closet: A white, form-fitting 60s inspired dress with black piping. A sheer, plaid nude and black dress with a little faux fur vest. And a pink faux fur coat draped over a black cocktail dress with 4-inch heels. I ran between Tyler and Hannah, sweeping hair off of her shoulder, calling out things like, “Yes! That’s the look!” and “You hot, mama!” I advised on body posture, props, and fixing little details as Tyler snapped away. One of the things I really enjoy about styling a photoshoot is my ability to put others at ease, helping them feel comfortable and sexy in their bodies. I also love the way an editorial tells a story. The juxtaposition of a modern woman in this curated, vintage setting is interesting. Though aesthetically beautiful, we’ve certainly come a long way from the notions we had about women and gender since that antiquated era.
Hannah identifies as a queer woman. It’s been a long journey of healing and self acceptance, and today she’s proud of who she is and how she looks as a human.
Being able to express who she is gives her confidence and raises her self-esteem. That confidence came through in spades during our shoot in her effervescent energy and the way she carried herself. She says she sets an intention for what she wants and how she wants to be portrayed.
One of the best articles I’ve read on the topic of gender explains “The three separate but related features that make up gender are one’s body, identity, and expression.” (Fairygodboss, April 2019) Gender is a social construct. Many countries define gender as a spectrum with folks falling somewhere in between masculine and feminine. The U.S. has only recently begun to recognize non-binary. The article points out “[birth] assignment alone does not determine a person’s gender, the way a person experiences their body makes up one component of gender. The label (or lack of label) that a person uses to indicate their gender internally is their identity. The way in which a person conveys their gender publicly is the expression. This includes the way a person chooses to dress, the way in which they carry themselves, and the activities in which they choose to engage. Gender expression is based on how society as a whole interacts with people based on their perceived gender.”
I find that often, when people don’t understand something, they’re afraid to ask. This fear can foster indifference, intolerance, hatred and violence. It’s okay to not know. Admitting that you don’t know something is vulnerable. And vulnerability is the key to connection between humans.
We must be vulnerable if we’re going to try to understand where each of us is coming from and learn from each other. Knowledge dissolves fear.
Hannah prefers using they/them pronouns with folks she meets until they identify themselves. She feels that people aren’t binary creatures that need to fit into specific boxes. In college, a LGBTQ literature class opened her eyes to queer culture and ultimately helped her define herself. Her youth was stereotypically gendered, spending more time with her father going fishing and playing sports. When she grew her hair out, her grandfather yelled at her. She wasn’t allowed to express emotions, as the old adage goes, boys don’t cry. Entering the navy allowed her to escape the negativity, and she reveled in traveling and meeting new people, which helped her come out of her shell and improve her confidence. She also worked on submarines which until very recently, only allowed men on board.
This multi-faceted babe has many talents. Hannah practices the art of Shibari, which is skillfully tying rope into various knots and incorporating them around the human body. She first worked with rope on ship decks doing line handling during her years in the navy. Her technical knowledge of tying and memorizing different kinds of knots eventually transformed into a meditative practice that gives her tactile gratification and allows her and the person being tied to play with control, trust, and vulnerability in a safe space. Hannah is currently attending culinary school and her ultimate goal is to own her own business and become a personal chef and sauciée. She’s observed that having a personal chef is a luxury afforded to a wealthy micro culture and would like to change that. Ideally, she’d bring high-end restaurant experience to folks’ homes, focusing on the queer community, moms, and single professionals. There’s something really intimate about cooking in someone else’s kitchen that Hannah enjoys. Food can foster connection to each other and transcends language, economic, and social barriers.
You can find Hannah on Instagram @senuarope.