Rakeem is a queer artist based in Los Angeles, California. His work is an intimate celebration of beauty in shapes, sizes, and shades of people who aren't often seen in the media. Rakeem often features himself in his work.
He created this photo series for PRIDE, and he and his fellow models, Ivan Lopez and John Cagandahan, gave us the following statement:
"I remember browsing Twitter not too long ago and seeing a white gay man named Austin Armacost post a picture saying, 'This is my body. No 6 pack, no bulging biceps & a little chubby, BUT I LOVE my body. Don’t like it, unfollow.' Before you see the picture, you would think that this was a statement of body acceptance and self-love. However, upon viewing the image that went along with the statement, the audience can clearly see define pectorals, a semblance of a 6-pack, toned arms, and a stereotypically 'attractive face.'
The issue with these kinds of posts isn’t the message behind them. Celebrating your body in all shapes, sizes, and forms is something to be applauded. But just as words mean things, context matters. As queer people of color, we are often chalked up to and defined by our body types. Asian men being seen as submissive, black men are seen as hard, rough, and dominant, and Latino men are often seen as 'spicy' or a 'Latin lover.'"