Seasons of Queer: Autumn Dreaming
Seasons of Queer: Autumn Dreaming started as a project trying to capture the concept of longing. What did queer Asians long for? How did we define ourselves?
Longing in so many senses of the word, compounded by the various definitions we give to ourselves.
As the stylist of this story, I was well aware that a shoot featuring Asians might allude to imagery of fair, palatable East Asians. Perhaps it was my inner longing that led me to subconsciously cast (via Instagram/friends-of-friends) three queer Asians of Filipino origin.
The Filipino race from time immemorial has been blessed with the melanin of a mocha-coloured complexion. Hundreds of years of colonisation forced the darker of us to “whiten” ourselves and the fairer of us to be elevated, at the former’s expense. Today, it has a lasting impact on Filipino beauty standards.
It was therefore a dream realised to work with the varying complexions of JD, Marvic and Red.
Kayumanggi is the Tagalog word for brown. Poetically, I’ve always defined it as meaning “sun-kissed” while in reality, it means brown for colour, brown for race and brown for complexion
After shooting with these three models, its meaning has been further enriched. Knowing that Filipinos are not only made of many ethnic and indigenous groups but that our many “browns” also make up what I affectionately long for – seeing myself and my fellow Filipinx reflected in that kayumanggi.
As a reaction to the shoot, where I had subconsciously cast three models (who I somewhat saw myself in), I channeled my thoughts into the only true way I could express myself – a poem.
brown (race, complexion, colour)
Complexion, became complex.
Black is beautiful.
But what about brown?
How many crowns given to the morena?
Or how many stolen from her…
So many adjectives for the beauty that is white and silky.
Maitim (to be dark) is to cast yourself as shit-stained, dirty, muddy and poor.
Trying so hard to scrub white behind closed doors.
Trying so hard to look in the mirror and not be abhorred.
Trying so hard to just be a shade whiter,
As if that will make your future a lot brighter.
Exhausted not exotic.
Being called “chocolate” is not erotic.
Brown is now the crown you must bear.
For with it comes more than just tears,
Or fears and self inflicted spears.
Brown is the babe you learn to adore.
Brown is the beauty of the sun kissing your skin, absolving all the hatred from within.
Brown is the glory of your ancestors.
Words by Genesis Mansilongan
Model – JD, Marvic and Red
Photographer – Henry Ng
Stylist – Genesis Mansilongan