Masc or Femme: Fighting Toxic Masculinity4 min read

Feminizing the Masculine Man

Toxic masculinity is as pervasive as our President’s perversions, but there are those fighting back. One of those is photographer Thomas Evans.

In his latest endeavor Feminizing the Masculine Man, Thomas decked butch, hairy, muscle-bound gay men out in decidedly feminine drag: blush, lipstick, eyeshadow, lacquered nails.

Perched atop barstools and in front of gray screens, naked, the iconoclastic photographer posed the men in positions becoming of a lady.

Vinny Parello modeling for Feminizing the Masculine Man

“I feel truly honored to be a part of this project” burly model Vinny Parrello told OutBuzz. “We live in a society where drag culture is becoming a lot more mainstream so those ideas of masculine and feminine are being broken down, and Thomas’ project forces you to see both sides of that spectrum. I can’t tell you how many positive comments I’ve gotten about the shoot from both my gay and straight friends.”

Other stereotypically masculine models involved were also excited to embrace their feminine side. “We got to see a side of ourselves we don’t usually experience,” says tatted model Antonio Cedeno. “I think we all have feminine traits, but putting them in front of camera lights was the fun of it!”

I had the chance to speak with Thomas Evans himself.

Thomas Evans: This project doesn’t have an answer; it’s ambiguous and leads different people down different roads.

Alex Blynn: Can you share the genesis of Feminizing the Masculine Man?

TE: I think this project really goes back to when I was a child… I was very feminine growing up; I was really into Madonna, I wore tight clothes, and I remember the kids being very cruel to me. Coming out was difficult… I felt such shame and guilt, so I hid my true self for a long time. I finally started to come out in my 20’s and began creating a totally separate world for myself, away from my family and old life. Now that I’m an adult gay man, I’ve realized that to fit into this community you have to be ultra masculine, and work out, and get tattoos. Society tells us that being feminine is the same as being weak or vulnerable, but I’ve realized that’s wrong. My idea is to break down stereotypes and really explore what it means to be a man.

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Thomas Evans

AB: How do you perceive masculinity?

TE: “Masculinity” changes, as does my perception of it. Feminizing the Masculine Man is also a response to our political climate. Trump represents an old way of thinking: he’s a white, heterosexual man, who’s grotesquely masculine and relies on power, aggression, and anger. I think that deep down everyone is caring and loving — feminine attributes — and if we could embrace that side of ourselves instead, the world would be a better place.

Thomas Evans

AB: How do you think your project helps to fight toxic masculinity?

ET: Feminizing the Masculine Man breaks down old ideas of what being a man means. Being muscular, having a big dick and a hairy body, being gross and aggressive… none of those things make a man, and I hope this series helps prove that.

Thomas Evans

AB: How did you choose your models?

ET: I was looking for men that fit into the idea of ultra masculine — muscular, hairy, bearded — but my first criteria was actually tattoos. I think tattoos are a form of armor — like, don’t fuck with me I have tattoos. All of my models are professed masculine gay men, but they’ve all told me how freeing the experience of participating in this was for them.

AB: Have you had any revelations since beginning this project?

ET: My art is constantly changing, but I always have an idea and an outline of what I’d like to achieve. During the artistic process, pieces fall into place like a puzzle until I see what I’d like to see, but I think working with these guys has changed the way I see gay men, certainly. It’s made me think even more about what it means to be masculine in our LGBT world. I’d like to begin working with self-identified heterosexual male models as well… I think that would have the potential to open even more minds. So we’ll see!

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Thomas Evans
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