In the past years, people have become more open with their sexuality and presentation of gender. Yet, there's still a lot of work that has to be done in order to reach complete acceptance. Thus, contributing to a broader awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, British photographer Heather Glazzard creates her works, including the project Queer Letters, where she gives queer people a space to tell their stories, share the difficulties they had to overcome and provide a positive example to those who still didn't have a chance to speak up.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did your photographic path start?
I grew up in the UK – Halifax in Yorkshire. I think it started when I was a kid. My dad was always teaching me about how to use a camera – he had a darkroom in my grandad’s pantry. I started taking pictures when I was a teen but I didn’t really become obsessed with it until I was 19.
Your style can be described as very authentic, even for highly fashionable magazines you create very unrefined photographs. Have you always gravitated towards such aesthetic, or did you develop it over time?
It’s been there since I started shooting. I first just photographed the people I was sleeping with, so I think it’s always been authentic and just of what’s around me.
The people that you feature have undoubtedly really unconventional beauty. So how do you manage to find them, or are they the ones who find you?
Most of the people I shoot are friends or friends of friends. Anyway, what is conventional? That means something to one person and another thing to someone else.
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I see you’ve portrayed dozens of people. Who was one of the most inspiring people you’ve met, and what was so special about him/her/them?
David Hoyle – I am a huge fan of his work, so shooting him was a fucking dream. The whole time I was shaking with excitement. David Hoyle was queer before it was even cool, his queer is punk, not this commercialised queer we see today.
In some of the photos, you featured yourself. Does it feel any different from being on the other side of the lens?
A little. I’m probably less patient with myself than other people… I like it though – from photographing myself, I’ve begun to understand myself and embrace that performance element of my self.
Some of your photos feature homosexual couples, which can still be a controversial topic for some people, even in modern society. Have you ever met any criticism or misunderstanding of your works?
I don’t remember ever photographing couples. I think this is an outdated way of seeing queerness, I don’t think it’s controversial to me or most artists. I think we need to move past these negative stereotypes, at least in the West. If someone holds homophobic beliefs and finds queerness controversial, then they should educate themselves and wake up to the world around them.
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Your project Queer Letters is very touching and, in my opinion, contributes a lot to a general understanding of queerness and queer identities. The main question you asked was ‘What does the word ‘queer’ mean to you?’ But what is your personal definition of it?
Queer is defining yourself rather than letting the system world decide for you. If you want to be a masculine you one day and a feminine you another day, it’s that. It’s somewhat political, however, the system has taken the word and used it for a gain – basically it is not Queer Eye.
Did you face any difficulties asking people to tell their stories? How do you build a trusting relationship with the subjects you portray?
No, people were generally quite open. Once I’d done a few people, others were quite eager to be involved.
What are your thoughts on body-positive movement since some of your photos show the human body ‘as is’ – with body hair, stretch marks, etc.?
I just think a body is a body. We need all bodies represented, and many people around me are working to change that.
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What was the concept behind your project Porridge? Was it a way to let people have a glimpse of your personal life?
The project is mine and my partner’s, Nora Nord. I’d broken my leg, so we started taking self-portraits together to pass the time. It evolved into a larger project that showed our domestic life together. We wanted to dismantle the (male cis) voyeurism we experienced and show our relationship on our terms.
Do you think that the perception of the LGBTQ+ community by non-LGBTQ+ people has improved in the last few years? What, in your opinion, are the main changes that shill have to be made? 
No, not at all. You’d think so but no. The straight, cis community still just sees things like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Queer Eye and think that’s the LGBT+ community. It’s honestly so stale. I think changes-wise, we need less decayed stereotypes. We need more representation for the trans community because trans people, especially the Black trans community are dying and being attacked at an alarming rate. But also in many countries, rights have never been granted or have been reversed. And while that LGBTQ+ community isn’t free in their places, none of us are.
What's the advice you can give to our readers who still struggle with accepting themselves and social prejudices?
Reach out to someone.
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