The photo book “Kings and Queens in Their Castles” captures the mundane and the extraordinary within queer life. 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.
All photos courtesy of Tom Atwood Photography.
1. George Takei, actor (“Star Trek,” “Heroes”), surrounded by gift wrap and bows in his Los Angeles home.
“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.”
3. 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.
“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.”
7. Carson Kressley, Bravo and OWN television host, takes in his reflection, surrounded by walls of pink in New York City.
10. Alison Bechdel (right), cartoonist and author of “Fun Home,” and Holly Taylor, compost maven, take in the greenery in Jericho, Vermont.
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.
13. Lydia Brown, Georgetown University student and disability activist, surrounded by words of inspiration in Washington, D.C.
“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.”
16. Anthony Bareto-Neto, former deputy sheriff in Barton, Vermont, stands in a world of green.
“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.”
19. David Meacham, drag queen, applies his makeup in Van Nuys, California.