Laurel Golio: Love Is Allowing Someone To Change
Artist Laurel Golio
Words Tom Czibolya
“I think love is a thousand different things – small and large moments, significant and insignificant things. I think love is the time you give someone, the time you give yourself. I think queerness is love. Allowing someone to change and allowing yourself to change, that’s love” – New York photographer and director Laurel Golio has built herself a commercial career impressive by any standards, yet it’s her personal project that gives the most space to her photojournalistic ambitions. Laurel has been fighting for LGBTQIA+ visibility her whole life.
“Being visible has meant different things to me at different times in my life. It’s changed depending on my circumstances or my surroundings but trying to live authentically and make decisions that are true to who I am and what I believe in is definitely at the core of what visibility means to me.”
From documenting a new generation embracing queerness, and photographing drag queens, to following feminist, anti-establishment skaters with her camera, Laurel’s storytelling is constantly evolving, but it’s the world that keeps the topic she touches on so painfully actual. Together with writer Diana Scholl, Laurel is the co-founder of We Are the Youth, an ongoing photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of LGBTQIA+ people in the United States.
“The Internet has influenced the ideas of authenticity and representation so much over the past 10-15 years. For example, when we started our project, We Are the Youth, our goal was to provide a platform for queer youth to speak about their own lives without restriction or censorship, to portray themselves the way they wanted to be seen and not necessarily the way mainstream American media platforms were representing them (if at all). Now, so many young people have their own platforms and many different ways to express themselves, which is incredible. Folks are able to speak for themselves, portray themselves and their lives however they choose. Although social media and the corporatization of so many social causes have changed the way I think about authenticity and representation, I think the need for representation will always be important.”
Laurel’s work is centered around a special sense of community, individual stories that are connected by love.
“I think if you’re living in a way that’s authentic to who you are, and you’re committed to growing and changing and learning, you’ll find your people, you’ll find a community, even if that seems unimaginable at a moment of struggle. The world is full of all sorts of folks and so many of them will mirror your experiences or be someone who will see you in new ways you maybe haven’t felt seen before.
Someone once told me that if you’re lucky, life is long, and in difficult moments in my own life, I’ve thought about that a lot. I think that idea has given me some sort of hope that this moment, however tough, whatever it is, it will pass and there will be one thousand other moments, some bad, sure, but some so, so good and full of life and magic.”