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15 years ago, Tom Atwood noticed something flipping through photography books capturing gay life: Everything looked the same.

The subjects were young. The aesthetics were trendy. They only featured people and stories in big cities.


Atwood, a gay photographer himself, had an idea: Why not capture LGBTQ people — ordinary folks and celebrities alike — living in the everyday?

In "Kings & Queens in Their Castles," a photo book documenting members of the LGBTQ community in their homes — including about 60 queer celebrities and influencers — Atwood finally brought his idea to life.

1. Meredith Baxter, actor ("Family Ties," "Glee"), thinks over the day ahead in her kitchen in Santa Monica, California.

All photos courtesy of Tom Atwood Photography.

“I think someone’s home tells you a lot about them," Atwood explains.

"When I began, I was shooting mostly subjects in New York, with their often dark, cramped spaces," Atwood told Feature Shoot. "I lived in L.A. for several years, and during that time, I noticed there was much more space and light in my photos. And I started including subjects in their yards. As I started shooting subjects across the country, including rural subjects, more land and sky appeared.”

2. Don Lemon, CNN host, takes a phone call on his New York City balcony wearing an outfit most will never see him in: a T-shirt, sneakers, and jeans.

3. Billy Porter, actor ("Kinky Boots," "Jesus Christ Superstar"), enjoys a room with a view in New York City.

4. Barney Frank, former U.S. congressman, feels at home behind his desk in Newton, Massachusetts.

5. Elizabeth Streb, acclaimed choreographer, and Laura Flanders, Air America radio host, surrounded by books and creative works in New York City.

Atwood's photos are a balance between reflecting the ordinary and the uniqueness of LGBTQ life.

“When I started, I really wanted to show that LGBTQ people are just like everybody else," he says. "Then I started to realize that for some people, there actually is a gay sensibility, and I wanted to celebrate that and feature it.”

6. Carson Kressley,Bravo and OWN television host, takes in his reflection, surrounded by walls of pink in New York City.

7. Bruce Vilanch, comedy writer and actor, has knocked out his groceries list in West Hollywood, California.

8. Doug Spearman, actor ("Charmed," "Star Trek: Voyager") and Marc Anthony Samuel, actor ("Imperfect Sky," "Parenthood"), relax in Los Angeles.

9. Alison Bechdel (right), cartoonist and author of "Fun Home," and Holly Taylor, compost maven, take in the greenery in Jericho, Vermont.

10. Alan Cumming, actor ("Hamlet," "Cabaret"), stands in front of his personal library in New York City.

11. Randal Kleiser, film director ("Grease," "The Blue Lagoon"), passes the time with his four-legged friends in Los Angeles.

True to the book's initial concept, however, most of the subjects featured in Atwood's book aren't celebrities.

Atwood traveled to 30 states through the years, documenting a diverse array of subjects coast to coast, from farmers and students to lawyers and beekeepers.

12. Lydia Brown, Georgetown University student and disability activist, surrounded by words of inspiration in Washington, D.C.

13. Patrick Standley and Matt Russell, farmers in Lacona, Iowa, look for a critter in the tall grass.

14. Rhea Reeves, a barista, pops open a drink in her cozy Raleigh, North Carolina, kitchen.

“The current political climate makes the book, which portrays LGBTQ folks from all walks of life, all the more necessary, in my opinion," Atwood told Feature Shoot. "It makes me extra eager to share it more broadly."

"I hope, in particular, that those in this country who emphasize differences among us might be able to relate to the subjects in the book — especially the dozens of rural and blue-collar subjects," said Atwood, who's originally from rural Vermont. "And that the book reminds them that there are LGBTQ folks living in their communities who are just like them in many ways.”

15. Anthony Bareto-Neto, former deputy sheriff in Barton, Vermont, stands in a world of green.

16. Jeff Mallory, nonprofit trustee, and Kevin Smith, writer, sit cross-legged by their pool with the Big Sur, California, sun shining down on them.

17. Gary Tisdale-Woods, community volunteer, stands in style in his Greensboro, Georgia, home.

“I also love the idea of having role models for kids,” Atwood says, noting young LGBTQ people may see themselves in these photos and realize there are people like them everywhere — not just in cities far away.

“It’s been touching — younger people have reached out after seeing the project and told me it’s inspired them to either come out or go into photography," he explains. "I think that’s nice to know that younger people can see these pictures and maybe discover someone they relate to in them."

18. David Meacham, drag queen, applies his makeup in Van Nuys, California.

19. Mary Celley and Sue Williams, beekeepers in Brooklyn, Wisconsin, work under a bright blue sky.

20. Ted Haykal, an artist in Peaks Island, Maine, gets cozy in his backyard fort.

All photos courtesy of Tom Atwood Photography. Learn more about "Kings & Queens in Their Castles," or check out Atwood's Facebook and Twitter pages.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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