Posing with a Disability: Introducing the Queer, Curved and Crippled Male Model – Vancouver Boudoir Photographer
I was introduced to Andrew Gurza through a friend on facebook. He was going to be visiting Vancouver and was looking for a photographer; it didn’t take much to convince me that I needed to meet Andrew in person and capture his story. This man is going to move mountains, if you don’t know him yet, you will soon. His voice is strong and true when it comes to his advocacy of the queer disabled community. He will not be silenced. I am proud and honoured to now call this man my friend. Please go check out the work he is doing over at Deliciously Disabled xoxox Jessica Rae
Posing with a Disability: Introducing the Queer, Curved and Crippled Male Model
Pictures have always been really important to me. I have always loved what it is that they represent. When you take a picture, you capture a moment in time. Not only do you capture the image, but if you look closely enough at the subject, you might actually be able to see what they were feeling as well. For myself, as a man with physical disabilities, the idea of taking a picture holds real power. When I take a picture, I want to show the world that I am in a wheelchair, that I am proud of it, and that I own that part of my reality. Each and every time the camera shutter clicks I want the viewer to know that my disability is right by my side, and won’t be ignored.
In my work as a Disability Awareness Consultant, making disability accessible to the queer community via Deliciously Disabled, I have happily volunteered to take many a picture of myself. I did this, always, to ensure that Queers with Disabilities were somehow represented in queer media outlets. I loved these opportunities for a few reasons: 1) I love attention (no shame in that, right?) and 2) I finally got to see myself. For so many years I have begged, fought and clawed for representation and just to be noticed by my community, often feeling invisible in it. These pictures would help me change that, and show others in my position that they had a place too.
I had gotten used to these photo shoots being done with just myself and the photographer – the two of us spending time working together to make me and my disability shine for the cameras. I was comfortable taking up this space on my own – there is an unmistakable power when you are the only sexy, seated and disabled guy in the room – and I jumped on it.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to work alongside another model. I remember when I was asked, after the excitement of being professionally photographed had subsided (fame-whore, remember?), I was scared. I was immediately concerned about my body, and whether or not this model would be comfortable working with my unique body and me. My body that curved and contorted, that was seated and spastic and scarred. I started to worry how I would look next to him. I envisioned that he would look all sexy and suave, and I, try as hard as I might, would not. The camera would capture his beautiful body, and all the camera would see of me, was my cripple. I started to wonder if I could even go through with it.
The day came. The first couple of shots were of me alone — fun, relaxed, and easy. I smiled and laughed, the photographer putting me at ease. When those were done, it was time for me to be with the other model. I was excited because he was so sweet, but I also felt that pang of self-doubt. We both took off our clothes, and got in the position for the shot. At first, I didn’t dare move. I wanted him to call the shots, and I remember feeling that whatever I did, I had to make sure that my disability didn’t distract him. Here I was lying next to this model, I couldn’t be all disabled about it? Slowly though, we got comfortable with each other, and I was so happy he was with me. In those moments, I got to introduce him to my disability, and show him what being deliciously disabled is actually all about. He got to hold my spastic hands, nuzzle himself in the contours of my cripple canvas, and realize that I broke all the molds.
As the camera shuttered on and off around us, I felt a sense of bliss come over me. I couldn’t stop smiling because I knew that when these images were developed, they would capture something important. They would show the world two very different men, one able, one not, lying together in happiness. They would show the world that the male form, no matter how it is configured, is a beautiful creation. Lastly, if you were to look really close at these pictures, you might see what I was feeling – I was both happy to show myself, my truth, to someone, and even happier that he actually saw me for the queer, curved, crippled man I am. – Andrew Gurza
Published in Vol 7 of Philosophie Boudoir Magazine
**This post contains nudity