Three Toronto queer trans-femme and non-binary creative heroes step in front of the camera…
WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND STYLED: Aram Eginliyan
PHOTOGRAPHER: Fabian Di Corcia
HAIR: Alan Ovalles
MAKEUP: Zoey Keswani
ALL CLOTHING: Ahiri
ALL SHOES: L’intervalle
MODELS/CREATIVE MUSES: Ness Devos, Diséiye Balenciaga, Solar Imperium 007
It goes without saying that Toronto truly is one of the most up-and-coming creative cities in North America – and within this booming community of creativity, the artists who power it truly bring their own unique flair to the table. Within that community of creatives lies a microcosm of queer trans-femme and non-binary creative heroes who are bringing their perspective, experiences and talent through their own unique lens of creativity to the Toronto forefront. And they’re inspiring not only their own queer circles but beyond that into the lives of the status quo, and sharing their creative mediums with people all over the country.
Ness Devos (they/them), a non-binary photographer, is the vision behind the lens of local contraceptive brand Jems for All’s latest “Safer Sesh Lighter Leash campaign.” They have also assisted in some of Canada’s most notable fashion editorials and are one half of GP Zine (Guava Pussy Magazine), a Toronto-based queer femme-led creative and editorial-based publication that focuses on the divine feminine ego and translates that through their lived experiences and real-life relatability of lived queer sexual liberation. They focus their craft of colourful, bold and unapologetic queer photography that goes against the grain of mainstream beauty and femininity to showcase a side of queer life that is often under-represented. Ness bring their sense of playfulness, queer joy and liberation from the mundane in everything they do. You can follow them and their incredible work at @nessdevos, and get the latest issue of Guava Pussy at @gpzine!
It’s not every day that you come across a creative talent and beauty both inside and out like Diséiye (she/her). Hailing from the world of ballroom as a proud member of the iconic House of Balenciaga, she is a fashion designer like no other and represents the fashion community in a way not every designer can, as both talented designer and stylist. She fuses her incredible detailed custom designs with the ability to see the entire vision of style through and through – and that translates into a skill not every designer can translate. She has snatched trophies in categories like Runway and their unparalleled grand prize of Female Figure Best Dressed at this past World AIDS Day ball (Canada’s biggest ballroom function to date), as well as inspiring new children in the kiki ballroom scene to hit the floor and begin their own ballroom fashion journey. She has also dressed and created effects (the ballroom community’s way of naming their wears at functions) for international grand prize winners all across Canada and the United States. Her latest endeavour involves bringing her skill set in garment construction to the community through her garment reconstruction and design workshops for the ballroom community in Toronto, and showing participants ways to get their feet wet when it comes to creating, designing and up-cycling their effects for functions to come. To see her beautiful work and find out when her next local workshop will take place, you can follow her and her work at @deseiye_ and @desirediseiye.
Last – but certainly not least – the spotlight stays on the incredible world of ballroom, but this creative feminine energy takes us to the other end of the ballroom fantasy through her unmatched ability to perform and bring vogue to the community in a way no one truly has before. Solar Imperium 007 (she/her) is not simply a dancer or voguer, but a creative powerhouse who encapsulates the queer joy and liberation that voguing and ballroom is truly all about. In two short years, she has achieved what many voguers can only hope to achieve in a lifetime – at the young age of 20, she has already mastered the icon Leiomy Maldonado’s famous 360 dip. She has snatched countless trophies and grand prizes for her expressive and emotive playful take on dramatic vogue, and has taken on ballroom legends head on and come out victorious. Solar not only encapsulates what hard work, creative expression and love of vogue and oneself can look like manifested – she inspires the community to push themselves and unapologetically take the world head-on, and reminds us to feel the beat and express our own queer self-love both on and off the ballroom floor. You can follow her at @solarbhadi or see her at the next kiki function in Toronto: trust and believe that she’s a performer you won’t want to miss if you get the chance to go to a local function.
These three creative powerhouses represent what queer trans-feminine and non-binary creativity is all about here in Toronto – and they remind us all that being your authentic self and letting the gifts the world has bestowed upon you shine inspires more than just the communities they represent, but queer people and creativity as a whole here in Canada!