lude's resident photographer Dean Dumare linked creative director, stylist and artist Prince Ugorji earlier this year. The two sat down to discuss Prince's experience of being a black male, who is also part of the LGBTQ community. The conversation was honest & bold, leaving us with quite lot to reflect on, as we move forward.
with me. How are you doing?Prince: I am swell, thank you very much, and you?Dean: Im good brother, just here doing what I do. So tell us who you are in a sentence? Prince: I am stylist, artist and model based in London. I’m someone who values honesty and self love to the highest degree; especially for us black folk, I try and show that element through my work as much as possible. I live in my truth as much as I can.
Dean: Its funny, we have worked together on a few projects over the years and i'd like to think of us as friends. But we have never had this conversation. How are you feeling?
Prince : Nervous, but excited!
Dean: Could you describe what was it like to come out as a gay man?
Prince: I never really felt like I came out. Because I have always been me. It’s never been something that stopped and then started.
For me, like right now I have came out to everyone who needs to know.
Dean: Why do you think it is difficult for members of the lgbtq community to come out to their families?
Prince: I think that everyone identifies as LGBTQ is scared to come out to anyone, because of the fear of being judged or not being seen as a regular person, especially by your family. You want your loved ones to see you as your authentic self and I guess it’s frustrating knowing that they might not respect you for being 100 percent. At the same time it doesn’t stop me from being myself.
Prince: I guess it’s just about the right place at the right time. Like for me I wasn’t able to come out to my mum because of the way in which she passed. I didn’t want to bring anymore stress, grief or suffering to her. It’s not something I would encourage someone to do, because I am always talking about truth and being your authentic self.
Dean: How did you deal with that?
Prince: It definitely hurt, it was really difficult not to tell her. But in that situation I felt like I wasn’t important. And that is what I mean by right time and right place. Its difficult and dependent on the context. Like I won’t encourage a 15 year old from a Pentecostal African household to come out to their family when they know their families views on queerness and the lgbtq community.
"if you don’t identify as heterosexual, you are coming out everyday."
Prince: I feel like depending on how comfortable you are with yourself and your family you will be able to know when to come out. That may not even be with family, it could be in passing or it could be with friends or at events, like make it known.
Dean: You okay?
Prince: Yeah Its not that I hate the term, I just dislike it. Coming out sounds like performance, it makes it seem like the experience happens once and never again.
But if you are a bisexual person, a gay person, a trans person, lesbian or queer ; if you don’t identify as heterosexual, you are coming out everyday. When you meet a new person, fill in a application, or start a new job you are constantly coming out.
"I think sexuality is a massive component of everyones character but it’s not the only component"
Prince: Overwhelming, no. For me I don’t think it’s overwhelming, only because it’s not that important. Hold on let me rephrase that. Not that it is not important. But it is not all of me. I think sexuality is a massive component of everyones character but it’s not the only component. There are so many other aspects of my character and you know the human condition that we all experience, whether good or bad that make us who we are. Like, I have many other attributes that don’t stem from my sexuality, that people overlook.
Dean: Having many attributes that people overlook because of one salient aspect of your identity sounds familiar to me.
Prince: Honestly, its frustrating, people just seem to paint everyone with the same brush. it’s this culture of labelling and stereotypes. It’s the same reason why blackness is perceived as a single archetype. And we create, reinforce, justify and give these stereotypes truth. When in actual fact you can’t suggest that there is one version of blackness. Likewise there isn’t one version of non-heterosexual or “cis” identities.
Dean: I am afraid we are out of time here, but again thank you for sharing. We definitely have to do this again some time soon.
Prince: Definitely, just hit me up.