By James Dillon III
Has it been 20 weeks already? I suppose judging time for this project in particular is a bit tricky given that it began at what we thought was the beginning of the end of the pandemic—a period of time I think most of us are still trying to contextualize for ourselves. It also had a lovely incubation period between when Country Queer initially reached out to me with a desire to publish and when we ultimately began running the series. Not to mention (well, here I go mentioning it) that during the course of this serial portrait essay publication, the Queer Americana series has been born anew as a docuseries. Visit our YouTube page to catch up on Season 1!
All that is to say: time has crept up on me. I wanted to use this last installment to mirror the prelude I shared in the spring. To bring focus to the Queer collective. To honor and pay tribute to Queerness in its many beautiful forms, as I observed them through meeting the many powerful and wonderful humans who took part in this series.
This series never sought to be an exhaustive catalogue of what it means or how it looks or what it feels like to be Queer (could any one collection do that? I think not). But I do hope it achieved—and will continue to achieve—a palpable sense that we aren’t alone. We never were. And we never will be.
Queerness and queer people and queer bodies exist in every corner of this country. We are part of a legacy that is often framed and communicated around stories of oppression and loss and hardship. These are important to know. They are vital to show us how far we’ve come and integral to our shared history. I hope this series has helped, for those who have seen it, imbue their broader understanding of Queer identities with notions just as vital and important: Queer joy. Queer art. Queer belonging. Queer family.
Every photo shoot. Every filming session. Every interview. Every part of this project has been and continues to be a gift. To me, as an artist. Queer Americana helped me realize that one of my most important creative callings is realized in making Queer art for Queer people… humanizing and mythologizing my Queer siblings, and bearing witness to the beauty, power and wonder that I see in them. Especially when they might not see it in themselves.