Magnus Hastings’ “Rainbow Revolution” puts diverse queerness on display

When Magnus Hastings’ new photography book Rainbow Revolution comes out on November 24th, he hopes this statement of defiance in Trump’s America will have morphed into a celebration of a soon-to-be Trump-free White House.

What started as Hastings’ #GayFace social media campaign has evolved into the more inclusive Rainbow Revolution, which will culminate into a coffee-table book featuring photographs of diverse LGBT+ community members and allies shot over the last two-and-a-half years, from average people to big-name celebrities.

“I came up with the idea a year into [Trump’s] presidency. They were screwing with trans rights and there was the feeling that they were trying to squash us, so I just wanted to do something really in your face, to say ‘We’re not going anywhere,’” Hastings tells us.

Subjects for the project were given a giant wood box painted white and were told to express themselves. They were able to paint or customize the box or use props and were encouraged to make a statement. Some made political statements, some undressed, but the only thing Hastings insisted on was that the world they created in the box had to be real; a physical set and not an idea to be compiled in Photoshop.

“The whole point of it is to be a mini theatre. Why bother even building boxes if you’re gonna just superimpose them in there and turn it into a retouch project,” he says. “For example, Beaux Banks is seemingly flying on a rocket through the air, but you can see that I’ve painted his back boot white, things are held on strings and he’s standing on a box that blends into the background,” he says.

Models like Alaska 5000, Kathy Griffin (an undeniable honourary community member), Luke Evans, Peppermint and Boy George join a cavalcade of drag queens, activists, playwrights, lawyers, families, singers, dancers, public servants, porn stars, historians, executives and more to make up a book with a clear and timeless message: We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!

“During a time in which we’re being suppressed the whole nature of the queer spectrum took on a turbo speed of people finding new identities and identifying in different ways. I’ve been educated doing this. It’s been incredible! When something happens you just have to pick yourself up and keep going. You use comedy and art and that’s how the queer community responds generally,” Hastings says.

Partial proceeds from the photographic print sales from the project will go to the Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK and True Colours United in the United States, both charities benefitting homeless LGBT+ youth. Hastings believes subjects take the project as an opportunity to show their true selves.

“It’s about saying This is me and I’m fucking fabulous!”