Chicano Couple Shines in Photoshoot by Mexican Photographer Who Wants to Redefine Queer Love for Latinos
The art of photography is known to explore important themes, like gender identity and sexuality, which are still taboo topics in the Latino community. Perhaps it’s because of a largely Catholic population, along with the pervasive machismo that has become synonymous with Latino culture, right alongside birria tacos and “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.”
However, as much as we love our papis, their ideas of masculinity could use a serious makeover. For many, this image of masculinity includes tattoos, silver chains, crisp white tees and Timberland boots, particularly in Chicano world.
So, when photographer Henry Jimenez did a photoshoot of a gay couple matching this exact description, the internet ate it up — and with good reason. The LA couple, Trino and Adam, have been together for nearly two decades, so it was about time that someone told their love story on film.
Jimenez was the perfect man for the job
As a professional photographer who is also gay and Mexican, Jimenez was lucky enough to run into the couple on the street. He approached the couple and asked if he could take their photo. What ensued was a powerful depiction of male tenderness, love, courage and strength in a culture that shies away from same-sex romance.
In an interview with mitú, Jimenez shared his experience photographing the couple, along with his own personal journey, and his message about acceptance to the world.
Delightfully authentic and creatively empowered, Jimenez is restoring our faith in humanity, one scantily clad, Barbie-inspired flower bomb photo at a time.
How would you describe your upbringing?
Well, I was born and raised in Tabasco, Mexico, and I come from a really big family of five brothers. My brothers were the ones that got me into photography because they had a little photo studio growing up. I used to shoot weddings and quinceañeras and all sorts of stuff with my brothers. When I was 14, I started working with them and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a photographer for a living.
When I became older, [I realized] I didn’t want to do social photography, I didn’t want to do events. So, I was like, “Okay, I’m going to try to find my own style, my own personality.” So, I moved to Mexico City and that’s when where my career started.
How did you get reach the community of over 2 million followers you have now?
When I moved out for college, I had no social media aside from a personal Instagram. In Mexico City, social media was like the hot new thing. Everyone was making these deals on Instagram, making money from posting cool content. So, I was like, “This is my moment to jump on Instagram and try to make something unique and different and show my personality.”
I started shooting smaller influencers, along with my friends and everyone around me, practically. People started getting super interested. Then, one of my really good friends, his name is Sergio, he’s a famous actor in Mexico City, put me on the map. Once I started shooting him, everyone was like, “Oh my God, this photographer is so talented.” All the celebrities started [noticing] me finally and that’s how I blew up on Instagram.
In six months, I was shooting every single celebrity in Mexico City. Then, I decided that I wanted to travel the world, so I traveled for about two years and I documented my whole experience. I was shooting everything I could! I was shooting myself in beautiful destinations, and that helped me grow a lot as a person and as a creative.
How would you describe your personal photography aesthetic?
I love playing with green colors. I love the contrast between the jungle and the color of skin, because I grew up in a really green environment. In Tabasco, we have swamps and jungles and its really humid. So, I feel like my whole photography inspiration comes from my hometown. I would describe [my aesthetic] as a photographer in two words: sensual and wild.
How was the experience of photographing Trino and Adam?
It was a really particular thing because I didn’t know how to approach them. I saw them walking on the street holding hands. I was with my friend and I didn’t know if they would agree to take pictures and be comfortable. So, when I walked up to them and they said yes, I was like, “Oh my God, this is this is going to be something beautiful.”
And they have the most beautiful energy. While I was shooting them, they were so happy and so honored that I was taking pictures of them. I was like, “You guys deserve the world, you guys are the best people ever.”
For me, growing up in Mexican macho culture, [seeing them] was an eye-opening experience. And like me, they come from a religious family, which made it really tough for me growing up as a gay man. It was just beautiful to see. I was so happy with the results and that I got to meet them. They’ve been through a lot.
It’s not something that we are used to seeing. I feel like we have this idea of these type of guys and that they’re not sensitive, that they could never be gay, all of these wrong ideas that we have growing up. And now, it’s just like, hey, love is love and you can find love in every single human being. That’s what makes a photoshoot powerful.
What would you say to young Latinos who may be struggling to embrace their authentic selves?
I came out to my friends at 19, but my biggest wall was telling my mom that I was gay. I did it when I was 22 — it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. It was so hard and I was so close to giving up and not telling her, but I [thought] one day she’d find out. I thought that the best way for her to find out would be from me. It was tough, and even today, it’s still really tough, but it’s coming along.
I just care about my happiness. I love my mom and my family with all my heart, but if they don’t agree with the way I see life, with the way I want to live, that’s their problem. My goal is to be happy and to inspire as many people as I can to be true to themselves, to love themselves. We only live once!
My message is: if you ever want to do something and you’re afraid of what people are going to think or say, just do it. The only thing that matters is your happiness. If it makes you happy and it makes you feel fulfilled, do it for yourself and not for anyone else.
I just made a TikTok about that. I was saying how I wish I knew this before because I was super insecure and had so much anxiety about what people thought of me. So, I think that’s my greatest piece of advice for anyone hearing this. If at least one person relates to this and feels motivated and inspired by it, then I’ve fulfilled my mission in life.
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