RICHIE SHAZAM defies categorization. In a post-binary world, they thrive when being many things at once. Whether producing highly original photography, walking the runways of NYFW or engaging in activism, it is impossible to ignore the native New Yorker's many talents. Somewhere between fashion and art they are changing notions of beauty and gender through the act of storytelling. See RICHIE'S Prunus photoshoot and read the interview below.
Do you see a culture of creative gender expression gaining momentum? What excites you about this?
We are currently undergoing an undeniable shift in attitude that seeks to embrace and understand gender expression within our culture and society. I am excited to witness this shift beginning, although we must all continue to work together as a whole and continue to come together until we can see the trickle down effect take place.
Who have been your greatest influences and role models?
My greatest influences are Brown and Black Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals and Essential Workers—the bravery and resilience to express our truths gives me confidence in our present and our future.
When did you start to allow yourself to deconstruct the ideas of gender?
Growing up in New York City, I have been surrounded by individuals who expressed their identities truthfully and honestly, which facilitated my own inner dialogue with gender and gave me the confidence to present how I desired to from a young age.
As an LGBTQ+ individual, what has PRIDE historically represented for you and how is that shifting in the face of the pandemic?
Pride has always been a celebration. We are now able to rally together to provide access to resources and use social media to educate others, especially since this is a time where we have the attention and support of so many allies.
What drew you to partner with Boy Smells during PRIDE?
Boy Smells is a strong ally and advocate and their partnership with The Trevor Project is a vital and powerful tool. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people.
What does the Prunus candle and its inclusive meaning of ‘Genderful’ (embracing the full spectrum of gender in us all) mean to you this PRIDE?
Prunus is a meaningful way to celebrate and commemorate Pride month and to give back to a community that needs more visibility and allyship. It is important for everyone to embrace the dualities of their gender expression and we are here to be examples of individuals living in their truths.
Recognizing the civil injustices impacting communities of color, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community, how do you choose to use your voice for positive change?
By making use of my platform of photography, I want to spread awareness and get everyone involved to hear us, embrace us and question how they can be allies and advocates.