Kimi (they/them) is a queer, nonbinary, and Asian person living in Salt Lake City, UT. They are an incredible artist in so many areas, including poetry, playwriting, acting, modeling, and intimacy directing in theatre!
Kimi and I met in high school because we did musicals with the same company. I'm glad I can't find any photos of us together from back then, because we were both basically unrecognizable - small, skinny minnie, cutesy, feminine little ladies. Good thing we both realized our full queer/nonbinary badass potential since then... 😅
Kimi's journey really began when they decided to shave their head. They'd gotten to a point where they felt like a pretty hairstyle with a person attached to it. Their hair was a security blanket and a wall to hide behind, avoiding others and their authentic self. Once that was stripped away, Kimi finally got to see themself for the first time - raw, unfiltered, a blank canvas that was ready to be discovered. They were ready to be KIMI.
Once they realized they could present any way they wanted on any given day (when it came to masc/femme/androgynous clothes, accessories, hair, mannerisms, etc.), they were able to reconnect with femininity on their own terms. But this was a different brand of femme - wild and purposeful in its statement, instead of the box that was handed to Kimi as a child to squeeze themself into.
Journeys of self-discovery aren't always consistent growth or positivity. Sometimes, after you work so hard to excavate a part of yourself that's been buried for so long, other people don't react the way you expected when you share that with them. You can feel loss and grief for the heavily armored version of yourself you've outgrown, or for the years you lost trying to be someone you're not. In the end, though, the growing pains are worth the lightness and joy you feel when you stop apologizing for who you are and start living as your authentic self! We decided to capture this journey and all its emotions with a super fun 70s/80s skate park shoot. Check out some of the final photos, and see how we commemorated the ups and downs, the awkwardness, the spills, and the triumphs of discovering your true self:
After we wrapped at the skate park, makeup artist Nati Noir transformed Kimi into a cherry blossom fantasy. Kimi is half Japanese, and the overall Japanese culture plus the traditional expectations for AFAB people were a lot to handle on top of all the pressure to conform Kimi was already experiencing. This concept is all about feeling trapped in cultural tradition and femininity when it's forced on you, and how - once you break from all of that and figure out who you are without it - you can return to aspects of both of those on your own terms. I am OBSESSED with these, especially the pearl freckles to enhance the ones Kimi already has!
I don't typically push the podcast episodes this much, but I really urge you to listen to Kimi's. The way they speak about this transformation of self and how they unconditionally LOVE all these facets of their identity that used to be hidden, shameful, or hated is so inspirational. If you're working on a similar journey yourself or if you simply want an intersectional look at how queerness, gender, and cultural/ethnic identity are woven together, this is the episode for you!
Free public access to diverse, intersectional LGBTQ+ education through real-life lived examples is CRUCIAL to the future of the US and the world, and you can help make this possible. If you're able, please consider donating to The Queer Soul Fund. 100% of the donations will go to providing this life-changing experience for FREE to queer people who wouldn't be able to participate otherwise. I'll be able to compensate the queer artists involved fairly, rent clients' dream locations, and empower them to be the representation they never saw for future generations of LGBTQ+ folks. Any amount helps - you can read more and donate HERE: https://gofund.me/5fd7e9ff
Don't forget to listen to Kimi's episode of The Queer Soul Spotlight podcast! We talk about making crappy art, having the freedom to choose what is authentic to you, the trap of traditional femininity vs the kind you choose on your own terms, and a closer look at how queerness and culture/ethnicity are inseparable for POC, which is an experience that white queer people will never understand. This episode is basically the coolest queer TED talk of all time. 🤩
The link opens in Spotify, but The Queer Soul Spotlight is also available on Apple Podcasts and Anchor.
Interested in getting involved with The Queer Soul Experience? Nominate yourself or someone else and get more info HERE:
Read about more Queer Soul stars HERE: jennichapmanphotography.com/blog
Follow Kimi on Instagram: instagram.com/kimilawls
Follow Nati Noir who did Kimi's hair and makeup: instagram.com/natinoir_mua
Follow me for more Queer Soul content: instagram.com/jennichapmanphotography