Pride Is A Riot: Meet the London Club Kids Who Continue The Fight.
Words & Photography: Jordan Rossi
Pride is over; and for most that means their yearly quota of rainbows, sparkles, drag queens and club kids has officially been fulfilled. However, what always gets lost in pride season, particularly in recent years, is that pride, the event, started as a riot. It didn’t start with brands printing rainbow flags on their merchandise and donating a tiny portion to an appropriate LGBTQ charity or ally. It started with Marsha P Johnson, an African-American trans sex worker throwing the first brick at the Stonewall Inn. Marsha incited a riot. She also incited pride, the meaning behind the month.
This is a rather roundabout way of introducing the members of this feature but it’s an important introduction. While many will have now put away their unicorn onesies for the year there is a group, and a large one at that, who fight for their pride every day. Who continue the battle Marsha started all those years ago – almost 50 to be exact.
This description makes it sound like there is a group of individuals who take up their torches and pitchforks every weekend, apply some eyeliner and head out as a militant brigade of those fighting for gay liberation and equality. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The individuals featured in the images presented by Reform the Funk today continue the same fight but in a much different guise. Pride for them isn’t a day or month long event. It’s a year round thing. I use the word “thing” to illustrate how pride here almost defies definition, escaping the boundaries of how we traditionally define an ideological fight, as it’s not as historically localised as the Stonewall Riots. It’s much larger than that. With the advent of the digital age, this battle now crosses countries, continents and generations. It’s much larger than one singular event.
Now I don’t want to put words in the mouths of these amazing and talented individuals but I would guarantee that they all identify as queer in some way, shape or form in their lives. For Sam Costello, Kyle White, Luke Harris, Philly, Hermione, Saffron Slayter and Prince JayJay their strength and power in the fight and struggle of equal rights comes from their uniqueness. It comes from their “don’t give a fuck” and non-conformist attitude.
We shot these images a while ago and for months I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to present them to the world. I finished these images in time for Pride but for some reason broadcasting them in amongst the bevy of rainbow content just didn’t seem right and it wouldn't have done these amazing talents justice. They’re all unique in their own way. Sam and Kyle are sickening dancers, Luke turns stunning looks like no other, Philly, Hermione and Saffron and three of my favourite Queens and JayJay’s aesthetic speaks for itself.
It took a long while but it finally dawned upon me. What is both equally amazing and powerful about these talents is that they are all totally unique from one another which is something so incredible yet so simple. This is the power you find in the Queer scene. Strength through individuality. And even though the uniqueness of these talents can be traced all the way back to the fight that was started at Stonewall, generations have moved on, and so has the struggle.
They’re not necessarily fighting to be openly gay but for the idea of queerness, and individuality, to be accepted. For gender boundaries to be deconstructed. For it deemed to be okay for women to be drag queens (sorry RuPaul, you’re wrong). The fight isn’t against patriarchal destructive masculinity anymore (although that still plays a large part of it) but something more intangible - a fight to be ourselves.
Words & Photography: @thejordanrossi100