Chicos is a public art, gay and independent project/publication that aims to achieve such plurality through records inspired by Fábio Lamounier and Rodrigo Ladeira along with their collaborators. It is a perspective within the life of each gay character. Named after the Spanish term and also after so many unknown ‘Franciscos’ in the world, the project will be made of interviews and experimentations which are related to the personal and collective experience of what we truly are on a daily basis, of our bodies, our discoveries and opinions.
Since Fábio and Rodrigo were sixteen, they have lived with the (nowadays accepted and amazing) fact of being gay. If at the very first beginning it was sort of a burden – more as a consequence of others than of themselves – now, almost ten years later, and after a lot of personal and social struggles, the desire of documenting in paper or screen those experiences that wrapped their construction of sexuality and identity — which now they own with pride — was always present. Not just exposing those experiences but also the narrow connection with our bodies in a society with such strong sexist archetypes and prejudice.
And now, a bit older, alive and fairly healthy, yet with the same will of sharing that old idea of bringing together different experiences, identities, sexualities and bodies in a space where it all can exist without taboos. To teach ourselves that our naked bodies are beautiful, because we own them, as laborious and liberating as it can be.
YASS Magazine met the influencer duo (Fábio Lamounier + Rodrigo Ladeira) who are the creators of Chicos and is presenting everything to you!
What is the story behind Chicos?
We launched the project on the 20th of June in 2015, but we’ve begun it some months ago photographing some of our gay friends and neighbors. We wanted for some time before to photograph gay guys and get in touch with their background stories, relationships, and their identity as being gay men in the world we live in. We both are also gay, but we had such different stories regarding our own grown, so we wanted to expand it beyond ourselves and our social circle.
What is the mission of Chicos?
To explore the male figure but mostly the sexuality and identity of gay guys: how we feel about ourselves, our culture, our bodies and being gay nowadays.
How easy or difficult it is to expose your experiences and the narrow connection with your bodies in our society?
Our society, culture and media privileges a – everyone on the edge of those standards usually feel underrated or insecure with their own body. Exposing those fragilities within the way you see your own body helps to create connections among other people with similar story, but also strengthens yourself. It’s an empowerment act. But it doesn’t cut off the difficulties related to being exposed on the internet and also facing your own fears and traumas.
Who are the many unknown ‘Franciscos’ in the world?
We believe we are achieving more equality, while facing retrograde forces all around the world. The internet is helping people to express themselves and finding others to help them with their own struggle. Being gay now is different from 10, 20, years ago. We are overcoming the fear of being gay and telling people. More and more Franciscos are getting out of the closet.
Have you experienced any difficulties that far?
Yes. We have been criticized not only by homophobic people, but also from groups inside the LGBT community. In some ways, it helps us to understand more about the readers, what they do expect, and also what we should aim or improve. It’s a challenge to get to know people and have their trust to share their story and let them be photographed by us and exposed on the internet.
Who is your biggest audience?
The majority comes from Brazil, people between 25 to 40 years, mostly gay men. But also we have readers from USA, Mexico, Argentina and other countries we have sold our book.
How did your audience react to the project?
We had different reactions throughout its entire life. When we begin, people used to ask for more diversity, than they started suggesting that we should visit more cities, and then to have a printed edition of the website. People get really involved with it, and they do help with suggestion, or telling their story and offering to be photographed.
Has your sexual identity ever been a burden?
Yes. When we were young, by our sixteens, it was hard to tell people or even to admit that we were gay. We had to be inside the closet until we were faced or we wanted to tell our family and friends. The reaction was no good back then, but Time and love helped things to get better. Nowadays, we live a different time and also inspire people with our and other stories of overcoming and being closer to family.
Apart from the web platform you also release an art book. Was that difficult or it was the normal evolution of things?
We had so much photos and interviews by our first year of doing the project that we decided to take one step ahead. We managed to release the book through an crowdfunding platform. We raised up to 137% of what we first asked. At first it would be a 200 pages book, but with the extra money we made it hard cover and with 304 pages – also making it bilingual. It was hard during the campaign of raising the funds, two months of every single day reminding people of the project. After that, another months of keeping up the book being printed, and then launching and sending to over 800 people who had bought and helped the campaign.
Who is your favourite Chico?
It’s hard to answer that question, because very one has its own importance of being there, trusting us to photograph him, and also telling his own story.
What are your male iconography and homoerotic inspirations and references?
We love the work of Alair Gomes and Robert Mapplethorpe and. Also Ryan Mcginley, Gianfranco Briceño, Guy Bourdin, Nan Goldin, the guys from Pornceptual (they make a really nice work deconstructing the idea of pornography), inspires us a lot.
How can someone become a part of your project? Where do you find your models?
People become part when they simply ask to and we can arrange our agendas to work together. Of course by the time we got so many request that we just can’t photograph them all, so we chose by the story or body that haven’t being explored the most. Sometimes we ask people for suggestions.
Are only Brazilian males featured in your platform?
Do you celebrate a specific type of masculinity or you embrace the male beauty in all its forms?
We would like to embrace all forms of male beauty, but we still need to photograph more!
Did you feel uncomfortable when you posed naked for Chicos?
Since we asked all the guys to be naked for our project we thought it would be fair that the both of us, Fábio and Rodrigo, we naked first. In our “about” picture, and in the first pages of the books we are featured naked. We like to face it as a natural thing.
What shall we expect from Chicos in the future?
We had an hiatus of almost 2 years. But we are back again and launching a graphic pack we are calling a Zine: 12 photographs with stories, 02 zines and 02 posters. After that, we will start again photographing but with another focus: we want to photograph couples, single men, or poly-amorous groups, to talk about love and relationship regarding, of course, sexuality and body.
More of Chicos here:
*all images are courtesy of Chicos