Magnus Hastings is known as one of the leading photographers in the industry, and has managed to capture his subjects at their best, while ensuring that they are stepping out of the box for some of his most iconic shoots (Courtney Act shaving on the cover of his book Why Drag is an image that remains buzzed about years later). Ironically, Hastings is now actually requesting that his subjects step into a box for his latest coffee table book, the aptly titled Rainbow Revolution.
Rainbow Revolution is a collection if vivid and colorful portraits that celebrate the ever-expanding spectrum of both queer identity and visibility. Hastings’ own social media campaign #GayFace serves as the inspiration, which itself went viral for showcasing people representing all of the colors of the LGBTQ community. Rainbow Revolution includes pictures of everyone from Boy George to Luke Evans to Hastings’ muses from RuPaul’s Drag Race to (in an amazing nod to history) Kathy Griffin. While Hastings’ stunning images remain the focus of the project, the shots are accompanied by powerful essays from a number of the subjects, showcasing the personal battles that are marked with the right balance of both sincerity and humor. Hastings said “the essays elevate the book for me and give it a purpose beyond the social media recognition the images have gained”.
From his perspective, Hastings continues to his mission to show off the LGBTQ community in the brilliant technicolor that we have come to love from this visionary. “The inspiration for “Rainbow Revolution” came from watching the world moving to a dark and right winged place,” says Hastings. “I wanted to create a project that was highly visible and unapologetically queer, and one that shouted with pride, defiance, humor, and joy because, after all, if the LGBTQ community is good at anything, it is laughing in the face of adversity.”
And yes-that meant showcasing his subjects in the aforementioned box. In the winter of 2018, Hastings built a simply box in his garage a 3-D blank canvas, and had RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2 winner Alaska as his first subject. Hastings gave Alaska free reign over the space, and Alaska tossed up some blue fabric, glued some shapes, posed for Hastings camera, and that photograph served as the inspiration for the entirety of what Rainbow Revolution became.
Over two years, Hastings jetted from San Francisco to London to New York to Los Angeles, and built more white boxes and showcased hundreds more mini-installations. Hastings showcased subjects of varying gender and sexual identities, with each of them telling their personal stories. After snapping close to one thousand boxes, Hastings compiled them and is ready to unleash Rainbow Revolution on the world.
While Hastings believes that the nightlife personalities, sex workers and finance executives that he showcased were gorgeously diverse, it is the sweet shy kid called Jacob that Hastings had to coax into a headstand that impacted Hastings the most. Jacob’s dads then informed Magnus that Jacob would like to become Ruby, so Jacob left the box, changed into his red dress, and returned. Any trepidation disappeared as Ruby came alive for the camera “As a child who sometimes wore dresses, I identified with Ruby,” Magnus Hastings reflects. “I was deeply moved to see Ruby’s adoring parents allowing their child to be themselves. It is really exciting that the spectrum of what is accepted and celebrated today is broadening so fast allowing people like Ruby to find their tribe and belong.”
A portion of print sales from Rainbow Revolution will go to Magnus Hastings’ chosen charities: True Colors United in the USA and the Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK. Digital galleries can be seen and prints can be purchased at magnushastings.com.