Exploration, Optimism & Fashion:
An Interview With Jackson Montgomery Schwartz

by Jay Armstrong

Jackson Montgomery Schwartz

Few have offered exciting positivity to fashion photography the way Jackson Montgomery Schwartz (JXNART) has. To do it with appreciation instead of arrogance is notable in itself but to exist creatively in a way which inspires those around him to aim not high with their ambitions but instead to look within themselves to embrace the joy which comes through finding an artistic vessel worth pouring oneself into again and again on the path of self-exploration forevermore is as beautiful as the work Schwartz crafts. Be it musicians, writers, models, whatever the walk of artists currently calling Austin home; all seem to see his creative presence as a mirror before which they may see their better selves reflected. Inspiring. Talented. Searching. This was my read while knowing very little of the artist themself. So at the end of March I reached out to see if we could find time to have a conversation. Barely having gotten into our current stay-at-home life of Covid-19 adaption. We had no idea then just how far things could escalate in social intensity. As the months between then and now have given us a distance, feeling more like lifetimes rather than weeks, I reached out to Schwartz again last week for a follow-up. To avoid repetition some items which were repeated have been omitted.

How’s it going?
Just waking up. Starting my day. Had my breakfast. Feeling good ya know.

Have you been stir crazy or what?
Not really. I’ve been really lucky. My friend Michelle came into town and we just hung out and when it started getting weird we got to be there for each other to make new routines, workout, and enjoy nature together. She just took off so now I’m starting like the solo life and it’s fine so far. How about you?

Doing good. Luckily there’s a few of us in the house. There is a lot of stress to work through, none of us were prepared for this so there have been the occasional days where one person or the other is in a rough place feeling overwhelmed but overall it has been as positive as anyone could hope for. I’m glad we decided to go ahead and talk, I wasn’t sure about doing the interview with everything in limbo but why not, ya know.
(laughs) What else are we going to do right? Might as well.

Have you been able to do much work around the house to allow you to feel you are making progress?
Yeah. Totally. I have been—honestly it has been a breath of fresh air to have the time to get on stuff I’ve been putting off for a while. I’ve done a few photoshoots here in my house. When Michelle was here we did some headshots. I am very limited on equipment I have here. We made a softbox out of hanging a t-shirt from the ceiling with another one behind it. We fleshed out some curtains for a backdrop. It has been really fun making whatever you can out of whatever you have.

Before quarantine things were just starting to pick up for you. You had your first fashion show at the end of October and then just before quarantine you had the feature in Vogue come out; how did that come about?
So it was this photographer Kat Alyst. She is an amazing photographer. I met her last summer at a photo booth I did at Kinda Tropical and she posed for me—her and her partner—both are just amazing people. We went out and had lunch together and we were talking about how fun it would be to shoot each other since we both are mostly behind the camera and so yeah we put that together. She rented out Laguna Gloria—it’s a big nature preserve in Austin—and collaborated with a bunch of local clothing designers and assistants and whatnot and just made this shoot. It was my first time modeling in almost two years. I was really—uh I don’t know—timid about it but it was fun to show up and give it my all and not be afraid to look stupid. It was fun.

Have you moved away from modeling or is that still something you are actively thinking about?
It has been really casual. Never has it been a very formal thing. A few years ago when I was doing it a lot more it was mostly self-portraits and some stuff for other people but mostly Instagram for funsies. It is something I really enjoy though and I feel I have more to offer than just being behind the camera. I’m naturally an introverted person so it is easy for me to sync to the background but there is also this part inside of me that wants attention and wants to pop out and look zany and look crazy and, you know, feel good about myself and show that off. So I am embracing that and trying to explore that more.

That seems pretty unique. Most people who get behind a camera want to stay back there so that balance is not all that normal. At least that has been my experience.
I think that’s accurate. Yeah, you are kind of one or the other. I am obsessed with these concepts of duality or maybe even just not limiting myself. Being able to try everything at least once. I’m always exploring.

So you had the fashion show in October. How did that go? What is worth noting about it now?
It was so badass. It was the first major event I had thrown. I had done a couple of popups with fashion designers selling their stuff while I did photobooths but those were a fraction of what the fashion show turned out to be; both in preparation as well as attendance and reception. It was wild. It was a lot of work and it totally paid off. Everyone I asked to be a part of it, they were all “fuck yeah” right out of the gate. So that was really exciting and almost flattering, I guess, to see that everybody was so supportive. To have an idea and have people one hundred percent behind me who also wanted to be a part of it. So that was encouraging. The universe teaching me—like day of the fashion show, people just showed up out of nowhere and kind of jumped in and took over the jobs I didn’t even know needed to be done. It just went so smoothly. It was surreal….and really gratifying.

The way it came out was huge. Everyone was excited to be a part of it. It felt—not so much the show itself but the timing of—I’m trying to find the right way to say—it’s got to be strange to go from kind of trying to find where your voice is through all of this—find what your style is I guess—and it seemed that show came about at the exact moment you stepped out from being someone who was trying to figure themselves out to being someone in town who other people are almost trying to emulate. A lot of that comes from having a positive attitude and being super excited about it but then again excitement doesn’t always translate well in fashion and art where most come off feeling so burdened by the structure and limitations of just trying to do something well and your excitement speaks through the work without seeing the artist behind it at all. Do you notice people gravitating to that excitement? Is that something you are aware of?
I think so. The whole thing was very fluid and organic for me. It is difficult for me to show excitement when it is not there. I am not a good liar in that way. There have been times when I don’t have that excitement in me and I will pull back for a couple of weeks at a time and regroup and take a minute off of social media but then there are times I am so passionate about it and it truly is my reason for living or whatever just to get to create something that I think is fucking beautiful and get to share it with people. And I do think people respond to that and to me particularly in the places I inhabit in this town like getting to work in a bar scene and then getting involved with documenting the drag community a little bit and honestly I think just working in the service industry in Austin for almost eleven years now, I have met so many people through coworkers or regulars or just being around town—

Model: Acey Monaro

Do you think being at the bar —I’m speaking a bit here from my own personal experience. I use to be incredibly shy and introverted and I worked and bartended at a busy bar in Indianapolis for like five years, six years, and it changed all of that about me. It made it like way easier to be excited about stuff. I am probably still boring but in a way it helped me get past being embarrassed to be excited about something and make myself be out there. Do you think the bar did that for you more or—
Come-pletely. One Hundred Percent. When I moved to Austin I was just a barista who worked at Spider House and I would just hide in the corner and not talk to people. I had very low confidence. Very introverted. Then my manager at the time who now owns Hotel Vegas[Brian]Tweedy—he kind of forced me to bartend. He was like, “hey, you’re gonna be a bartender now” and even within six months of that time I had opened up so much more and learned to be confident just by having to cut people off or talk authoritatively to a customer. I am so grateful for that.

How hard is it for you to get out of the slumps? You mentioned the periods where you pull away from social media. Is that becoming a bigger problem to get out of now or is that easier? What’s that like for you?
Overall I think it is easier. The past few years, dealing with depression—I think depression is a lot scarier when you don’t know what it is or you just don’t understand what is happening. One day you just realize, “I’m not well.” That is the scary part. But having experience with it and going through hella therapy over the years; I can see warning signs or notice as it is happening and not put so much stock in the fact that is happening and be self-aware and ride the wave while getting myself to do things to make myself happier through routine ya know, sleep/exercise/good food/accomplishments.

You make me think of when we are younger—and certainly depression is a big part of so many peoples lives—there seems to be this belief that getting beyond depression or through it means it will no longer be there and I wish people could get that more into their head that; no you’re going to feel this again but you have just got to find a way through it. And I don’t mean that it is just up to us as individuals to pull ourselves through it. I don’t mean it like that. Therapy, books, movies, all of those things we take from along the way to kind of set us up better to be mentally prepared on seeing beyond those dark moments. Sure the strength comes from within but often it is learned strength if that makes sense. Are there any books/movies/music you have found which helped you along the way you have drawn strength from?
Yeah. Totally. Honestly, podcasts have been a big one. Specifically, storytime podcasts like Risk. There’s so much connectivity hearing people tell their intimate stories. Hearing other people’s stories really helped it feel less taboo or overwhelming for me because it is pretty normal honestly.

I assume at least for the first couple of months people read this they will be in isolation and often what we hear beyond the connection of realizing we are not alone in these experiences is the advice to get out there and assert ourselves socially to help coming out of those dark moments. Is there any advice you could give for people while they are in this moment cut off?
The biggest thing for me has been holding true to some sort of routine. Even if it’s loose, try to at least fit a couple of things into your day. Specifically, I work out regularly but it is usually at a gym, so now I had to figure out how the fuck do I sweat in my house. That’s not something I did before. So Youtubing workout or yoga videos and being that mid-nineties mom doing the moves. It really helps and it is thirty minutes out of the day where you feel accomplished and really awake. Then you don’t feel as bad about yourself for fucking off too much and watching too much tv.

Are you more of a daytime or nighttime person when it comes to creative shit?
Generally night. I’ve been a night person since I was eighteen. That’s when I took my first overnight job at UPS and ever since then I have worked nights and kept night hours. Which is a really long time but now it feels right for me.

Any upcoming projects or plans you have coming up?
Honestly, not much right now. I mean I had April mostly booked with music videos and photoshoots but all of that has mostly cleared out because putting makeup on people’s faces and taking photos is way closer than six feet. Now I am trying to do mostly backend type of stuff and lots of business strategies, redoing my website, and editing a lot of older projects I have been sitting on. Also, just trying to be innovative in coming up with how to generate any sort of income from my art during this crisis. Whether it is merchandising—I am in a period of thinking outside the box and trying to innovate.

What is the ultimate big goal? I know that is always the worst question to ask anybody because whatever door opens that is what ends up guiding us along but ultimately where are you hoping to head and what happens?
I don’t really know. I remember being a little kid and looking at fashion magazines and being drawn to high-fashion editorial. So that is always kind of in the back of my mind but I don’t know. I have been playing with the idea of fluidity in careers lately and how you can, our generation especially, can jump from career to career and you can complete one area of your art and expand to the next and so I don’t know if that would be movies—directing I’m kind of interested in that—or being in front of the camera more….who knows. I am really open.

Model: Sydni Adams

It seems to me that defining yourself by boxes is one of the worst things people do. You hear people say to set goals and go for them but those goals should really be loose to make space for how they have the potential to go. You end up just being disappointed. I mean let’s take your fashion show. If you decided the next one would be a bigger one this year as a set goal, those things are cool but then there is the disappointment when you feel drawn in another direction feeling so determined to hold tight to an idea of how you yourself saw things going instead. When you mentioned music videos are you talking of shooting them yourself or just doing makeup and looks for them?
So far it has been only makeup but it is something I am deeply intimidated by but also really want to try. Shooting is something I definitely see coming up next or eventually.

Is there anybody you would like to shoot a video for?
Let’s see. (pauses for a few seconds) No band specifically comes to mind. It is more the type of band. I would want to shoot someone who is either up-and-coming or just starting out. (Laughs) Just so there won’t be the pressure of having to deliver an amazing project on the first one. People who are easy to work with but most importantly people who are passionate about what they are doing. If you are casually doing something I don’t necessarily want to work with you. I want someone who is trying to better themselves and believes in themselves.

That is a very Austin mentality to have. Do you think that would have been your attitude before-where are you originally from?
I’m from South Dakota.

Did you move anywhere else before moving here?
No. I came straight here.

How old were you?
I had just turned 21

And you’ve been here how long?
I have been here almost eleven years. Damn, wait. I just turned thirty-three so almost twelve years. I don’t know. It all runs together.

You mentioned the drag community. What’s it been like for you getting involved with that community and getting to meet the people? Like you did the Louisiana Purchase photo shoot. You’ve done a lot of cool projects with people. What’s it like to be in the middle of that community now? Have you always been drawn to it? Is it something that the art led you into?
Well first I want to say I am not as involved as many—basically due to my bartending job and working every Friday and Saturday I am usually trying to make money when all the cool drag shit is happening. So I always feel guilty about that. I love so many people in that scene and have worked with a lot of them in photos but I rarely get to go support them IRL. But definitely through photo work—and I think a lot of that has to do with anxiety too like not necessarily wanting to go out into a huge crowd of people. I love working with people creatively in smaller groups and so my art is the way I bond with people. I don’t know, I appreciate the fluidity of that crowd and how gender isn’t taken that seriously. It’s an exploration as something you get to play with and you get to express it freely and that is something that I am really drawn to which is really my own journey.

So being drawn to that. Obviously I am a huge fan of Hotel Vegas. Vegas has some of the most open people you can get to know but it is also a gendered crowd if that makes sense. Fluidity is cool to be around but I feel at Vegas it somehow carries a male machismo attitude to it. Do you find that a weird dichotomy to be balanced between?
I don’t know. I feel Hotel Vegas is a little more reserved than it used to be culturally. There are still people who are very open and playing with gender roles and gender expression.

Do you feel that is reflective more of how the town is changing?
No, not necessarily. I feel like it’s more its neighborhood is changing and how the evolution of crowds move through businesses and how quickly scenes jump around town. I guess that is due to growth for sure but also due to people wanting the next hip thing.

For sure. There has never been—I guess for me it is CBGB’s which was the coolest spot ever and there is no way you could ever sustain that. It is only a matter of time before those who create a vibe of a space feel detached from it and want to go in other directions. Are you still super in love with Austin? Have you ever been super in love with Austin?
I guess I was more perplexed by it the first four or five years I lived here because it felt kind of overwhelming. It is almost a million people, I’m from a town of like a hundred-and-fifty-thousand people. So it took me a while to get used to it but now I absolutely love it. And the more I travel and come back I am so grateful to live here. It is the perfect mix of rock n roll and art world and you get to be strange and queer and all of that together. It’s not so uptight or so limited. It’s not very judgmental either. I really enjoy that freedom.

Do you feel the new influx of people still sustains that? I personally do but I’m not trying to throw my opinion out there but I know it is pretty easy to shit on seeing condos go up or looking at The Liberty surrounded by these ugly buildings towering over it on both sides. Do you see all of that and still feel that the thing you love is sustaining itself?
Yeah. I don’t know if necessarily more weirdos are coming here—I say weirdos here lovingly. That is who I identify with. I think everyone who moves here has a perception of what Austin is and it is this kind of weird kooky place where you get to be yourself and I think people are open to that even if they might be more normy or techy or whatever. I think they are very open to that and when they go out for entertainment that is what they want to see and they embrace that. I think the appeal is still there whether more weirdos are moving here or not. No, I don’t think the scene is in danger of disappearing.

I feel the same way. I get worn out hearing people go on about it is dead. When I really want to point out that they don’t really go out to bars anymore and they are not committed anymore to putting in the energy it takes to stay involved. I’m not arguing with anyone about their negativity but I’m not in any hurry to jump ship.
Yeah. It’s pretty defeatist. I don’t know, I feel like when you give up on it you want to say it’s over when it is still here.

Model: Louisianna Purchase

Were you into photography first or makeup?
Kind of the exact same time. My brother passed away unexpectedly six years ago and when he died I inherited his camera. He had a pretty nice DSLR. I had no idea how to use it so I took a month-long course and learned how to use it and also started taking makeup classes at Mac Cosmetics and kind of got in with the people there. They offered me a job as a counter boy doing makeup. So I did that. They have a great employee teaching program so I got to learn a lot. After like eight months I had built up my makeup kit and decided to quit and do my own thing freelance. I started combining those two. Always painting up my very patient friends and making them pose for photos. That’s how it all began.

Who are some of your favorite people you like working with around town? Have you had any models that stand out?
Totally. I think of them as Instagram names when trying t0—Allyssa, Baldie_Loxx, she’s amazing with the most magnetic energy. Sabrina [Ellis] with Sweet Spirit, A Giant Dog, and Heart Bones. I always feel such a connection with them. They always come with a great concept. Of course Louisianna Purchase, we always have so much fun going in and getting to create with her. I think it has been a little over two years or two and a half years I have been her photographer. We’ve done almost eleven shoots, I think, and it has always been such a blessing.

Obviously I’m not looking for names specifically but what’s it like dealing with frustrating models; those who are distracted or not as committed. One, what’s it like working with them? And two, how have you gotten better at getting the end result you are going for within those situations?
I have been lucky to not have many experiences with that. I kind of vet people pretty well before I work with them. Whether I know them from the bar or I have been following them online for a while I will check with friends and ask how the person is to work with. There have been a couple of situations I have been in that have been challenging. Communicating my needs is important. Sometimes on music video sets the people I have done makeup on are very distracted because they are trying to direct and be in charge while getting their makeup done and that can be challenging when people are refusing to look at you or pay attention to you while you are trying to work really fast and they are just not present. That can be an issue. Honestly, just trying to be posi and be accurate, do a good job, and do it really fast. Basically, making the best of it regardless. Being cool. Being diplomatic.

I have been excited about everything you have been a part of. You have been familiar for years but it has been cool to see what you have put out there. You don’t seem to mind being a fly on the wall in a lot of situations, it has been great seeing how creative you can be. What I hear from others a lot whenever you are brought up is how wowed people are, not just by the fact that it is you making it but by what the work itself IS. That has been so great to see and still you find a way of impressing people in new ways. No doubt you are only beginning to show the potential of where you will be. Being at this seemingly pivotal moment on your path, what are like three of your favorite things you have done in the whole scope of your projects. What has your name been attached to which means the most to you? I’m sure you would say the fashion show because of the scope and success of it so outside of that one particularly, what stands out for you?
This isn’t specific projects but maybe almost milestones or discoveries I’ve made about myself. When I fully embraced color and was honest with myself about how much I truly love color and wanted to feature it. That was important and defined what people are attracted to about my style.

Were you nervous making that transition?
Not really. I didn’t really understand it. For almost a decade all I wore was black head to toe. So it was confusing to me when I started moving into a lot of color. It almost seems reductive now cause like what you think was happening was happening with black symbolizing hiding from the world and moving into color being acceptance or just me being very free with sharing myself and that is very much the arc of what is happening with me. It feels great.

Were there any accessories early on you remember putting on as part of stepping out of your box that you tried on which now mean something significant in a way those seeing it on you out might not have realized the bravery it reflected in you?
I remember my very first time putting makeup on myself. I did this messy-ass all white and purple and very garish. I remember just having gotten the Instagram app and I didn’t realize it was sharing and I just took a photo of myself and somebody responded right away, “did you mean to share that in public?” (laughs) I was really embarrassed and took it down right away because nobody had any idea. They didn’t know what to expect and they didn’t know I was doing makeup at the time. Now that is completely natural for what people expect for me to show online.

I remember you bartending, I feel like it might have been Vegas two years ago during south by, you had on a scarf or necktie, I think it was red, maybe purple—doesn’t matter—it felt normal to see you in it but at the same time it was unexpected to see you having it on behind the bar. Bartending, it made it more of statement. I thought it was really cool. You should have a presence as a human being whether you are pouring drinks, not just this nameless person back there—
Depending on how much engagement I want to have with customers; if I am feeling extroverted I’ll dress pretty garish because I know that invites a lot of interaction but if I am feeling pretty reserved I’ll dress in all black with just like a chain and build more of a wall between us.

So I am thinking of two people. You ten years ago, five years ago, whenever the transition from old Jackson to this Jackson, which is a giant grey area of change, think of old you and think of the you ten years from now into the unknown; what is some advice you would have given yourself ten years ago that you would have actually taken and what is some advice you can see a certain path for you down the road of the future that you hope you will always go back and take from yourself?
I guess for younger me it would be, “don’t be afraid to follow your intuition,” and also, these probably seem really cliche’ but they are so true for me, “and also, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Truly just like fuck what everyone else thinks. You will be—it might be scary to be yourself or to take those risks but you will be so much happier. You might piss some people off, you might lose some family, you might lose some friends but ultimately the more you, you can be, the more the right people will be drawn to you.” Future me? (deep exhale) I don’t know. I guess just capturing the mindset I am in right now of fluidity and ease. I am a firm believer that you are never too old to reinvent yourself and I get especially inspired by stories on Reddit of eighty-year-old ladies becoming ballerinas or, I don’t know, I saw this old man retire from a railroad company and he built a miniature railroad all around his house and it took like years.

Oh my god I saw that. I’m not all that into trains but when you read the story on it, I find it so awesome.
It’s so fucking cool

And to dedicate that much time into it. That focus and being that passionate about it is incredible. Old people—or hell not even old people—boring people, they bother me…in a big way. It’s like find something, find something you are motivated about. Everybody either thinks about whether something gives them status or money and it is like those are not what matters at all for your well being. You gotta let go of that. You have to find something. I mean it is easy for me now but I got made fun of for reading as a kid. So I would read all these books but everybody would call me dumb for even reading them and I would just be really shy about acknowledging the fact I just wasn’t like them, ya know. Why be so nervous about people finding out I read books? It’s so stupid. Those books were doing more for my mental health and nurturing the defining traits about myself I am so proud of today than all of those people combined but yet I felt so ashamed to let anyone know about it. Pulling on that thread, I know very little about your past but you mentioned the depression and you mentioned the shift towards what embracing color represents for you. Knowing where you are now, are you happy with how you evolved, and are you still pushing yourself to evolve in a way where you can find even more happiness with who you are as a person?
One of my ongoing mantras is, “never peak.” I think about it constantly and it has been true to my life ever since I was like twenty-six when I got intentional about how I was living and being honest that I wasn’t happy with a lot of the things I was doing that were holding me back and making me unhealthy. Ever since then, it has been a slow steady climb and that feels wonderful. I want to maintain that until the day I die. I never want to sit down and just watch tv for forever, ya know. Yeah, always improving myself mentally, physically, artistically.

Model: Sean Burns

Can you explain “never peak” a little more?
Just keep challenging yourself and I kind of view it as all the different realms of life with like your living environment, your physical body, your mental health, your art, your career; I kind of see myself running in little circles and stoking up one area and then focusing on another area and really working on that and keep pushing every area further.

Would you say “never peak” could mean, “don’t ever become stagnant or become stuck on one idea?”
Yeah. I think so. It is never really settling, it is never really saying you are good enough. That kind of mindset. That’s not saying you don’t believe in yourself or aren’t proud of where you come from or what you’ve done but it’s a fine balance between loving yourself for who you are and always asking yourself for more in a kind way.

When you mention people being older and still having aspirations, what is your concept of aging? What are your feelings on age and aging, what do those words mean to you?
I really don’t identify with our cultures perception of age. I have never been on a proper timeline and have never done things at a normal time. That use to scare me but now it is comforting and it has become part of my hope in life. I came from a culture where it was hedgenormative, rigid, and religious with, “here is the things you do, here is the ages you do them, here is when you get married, here is when you have kids, here is where you buy the house,” and whatever and knowing from a very young age I was way different from that didn’t give me a game plan for life or checklist for life. So I have just gotten to make my own and feel free to move around. It wouldn’t surprise me to move to New York at fifty and try that life then. Who knows, maybe I’ll have an acid phase in my forties. I don’t rule anything out.

I feel our timelines of age exceptions is absolute bullshit in itself. I know very few people, very, very, few people that have ever done the things you aspire to or the things I aspire to who did it “at eighteen you go to college, at twenty-two you get this career, etc,” even subscribing to that seems so stale to me. Do you feel that way? If you were doing this now, if you had blossomed at a young age and were doing what you are doing now without the experiences you’ve had to mold you, don’t you feel you would be getting robbed in some way?
Totally. Everyone has there own timeline and if I would have done these things back then, I wouldn’t have the perspective I have now. Certain events have to happen, maybe I’m getting too conceptual—like butterfly effect type shit—but you have to go through certain things that allow you to do your calling at the proper time.

If you had to move back to South Dakota—what does me saying, “hey, you have to move back to South Dakota,” sound like to you?
(laughs) The first word that came to mind was death but that’s dramatic. Nah, I don’t know. It’s changed a lot since I left with just the proliferation of the internet and with how much more open culture has become and how much more accessible it has become in the rural areas so I’m sure I could go back and find my people and find some sort of scene but I think there would be less opportunity or less mobility within the scene because they are so much smaller plus I am so sick of snow. I’ve had enough snow to last for a lifetime.

You bring up a really good point in all of that. So your age is at the weird pivotal point in people’s lives where growing up you had to experience just what was around you. You maybe had basic search engines as far as the internet was concerned, no social media, maybe Myspace, but very limited—do you look at the experience of someone who grows up in South Dakota now, where they get to be fifteen and see the people around them and not feel connected with their way of thinking; do you see the experience as being more motivating? Do you see things as being more optimistic of an experience now? How do you see the experience of someone who is fifteen now in South Dakota compared to the experience you had in South Dakota at fifteen?
I’m answering that from a perspective of being a religious, closeted, little gay boy in South Dakota and just having no one to share that with and knowing—I don’t know—it felt like life or death. Like if anyone found out it was over, that bad shit would happen. I think that now with Reddit/social media/whatever you can always find people to look up to. Whatever your area of interest is or whatever your identity is—whether it is expressed or unexpressed—you can find support, role models, and allies through the internet and that is important. Civil rights/human rights are slowly making their way to the midwest and America as a whole. Everyone is slowly becoming more accepting. Gay rights was a huge thing this past decade and that is mostly now the norm…ish. And now it is on to trans rights and that is a huge fucking thing.

It’s huge. I think it is great. It is terrifying to see what is going on with the trans community in Houston but I do—and I don’t mean this the way it has the potential of sounding—but I think it shows growth in that we have a new demonized bad guy. No one should be demonized and I certainly do not agree in any way with what is happening but no doubt you have heard so many awful terrible things out of people around you growing up aimed at homesexuality, to get to now where if those same atrocious words were said in public someone is going to speak up against it. I may not feel great about how things are, I may find myself upset and heartbroken at the continued struggles around us, but I know how much the culture in Indiana has changed among the general public to give me hope that these struggles will continue to work towards no longer existing as we work our way through them.
I definitely think there is a lot of hope and there is still a lot more work to do but I think things are moving in the right direction and I am so proud of all the queer people, and trans people, and people of color, anyone standing up for themselves making themselves heard, showing people who the fuck they are, and humanizing who they are. I think it is ignorance and unwillingness on conservatives or whoever, on their part on not meeting people who are trans or queer and not engaging with them but making up judgments about them and just accepting that it is true. I think the more we can humanize all of us the more connection there will be.

Is there something you can think of which people could be doing now to further the positives?
Honestly I think it starts with authenticity and being the most fucking you that you can be and trying to learn to accept that and to share it in a safe way or in a way that feels safe for you. The more you, you can be, the more people can love you for who you are.

 

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