Fashion designer Andrew Christian shares how his simple idea for a book turned into a political movement. Provocative, proud, and politically charged, "SEX=POWER=FREEDOM" is an ode to the LGBT community and a plead for togetherness.
“SEX=POWER=FREEDOM” is something I have been wanting to undertake for many years; it gives voice to the ideals and beliefs that I hold dear to my heart. A person’s openness to their sexual identity directly relates to their emotional freedom. Furthermore, society’s acceptance of the LGBT community constitutes our political freedom. When Trump was elected president, I knew it was important to tear into these notions in my heart and share them publicly.
My initial vision of “Sex = Power = Freedom” was simple: a book of sexy photos of my half-naked models -- as one might expect from Andrew Christian. But as the idea developed, I realized that this book could be so much more: a platform to express my views toward promoting LGBT empowerment – a view that I share with the majority of Americans. As the idea percolated over time, it became even clearer to me that sex does, in fact, equate to power as power equates to freedom.
I am not sure if “SEX=POWER=FREEDOM” will change anyone's opinion, but hopefully it reinforces the idea that we need to take care of each other. We need to be aware of others and empathize towards their struggles. We need to teach compassion and acceptance. These are some of the biggest lessons I have learned in my life, and we all can make a conscious decision to practice these every day. You are passing judgement when you discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation, and that is certainly more of a reflection on the person making the judgment than the person being judged.
There are many people in the world that still believe that sexual orientation is a choice or a disease.
These people would love the rid the world of LGBT+ people. As a community, we need to remember that we are all like-minded brothers and sisters; we need to stick up for each other no matter where in the world we live. Let’s lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Let's spend our time thinking about important social and human rights issues that have real meaning and spend our efforts helping those we can.
One story that I wanted to tell is of Arad's journey to America. If Trump's "extreme vetting" had been in place during the last 8 years, Arad would surely be dead today. In search of freedom, Arad deserted the Iranian military at the age of 22 and walked on foot through snowy mountains for three days and two nights. He knew he would be killed in the Iranian police state if it were discovered that he were gay. Upon escaping into Turkey, Arad was held in prison for six months for having a forged passport – an illegal move he made in order to save his own life. Eventually, after another three years of paperwork, Arad was rescued by the United Nations and resettled as a refugee in Dallas.
Freedom and happiness are contagious.
I want to help spread hope to other LGBT people who live in an oppressive environment -- whether that is a small town in the rural south or in foreign countries where people aren't allowed basic freedoms. I also want to raise awareness for the plight of those who live in hostile, oppressive counties and help make Americans understand that most people from the Middle East are just like you and me. They want to live in peace and freedom, and many good people just like Arad look to the United States for assistance.
Although the images in the book appear overtly sexual, the text presents an important political statement that presents activism in a novel way. My artistic vision for the book was to show all facets of sexuality, without any judgment or morality. I didn't consider anything "too far". What one person may think is pornographic and taboo, another may consider totally acceptable.
Though the important message of my book is non-judgment, I faced quite a bit of judgement during the process of printing my work. One printer outright laughed in my face over the subject, and it was evident to me that many were rejecting the project because of their internalized homophobia. Some will do whatever they can to silence us and our advancement into mainstream society. The rejection of my book was shocking; having people laugh in my face was even more insulting, but it made me more determined than ever to see the project through and fully execute my first amendment rights.
I think it's especially important at this time in history that Andrew Christian stand up and show LGBT sexuality in a positive representation. We all have to do our part to show those that oppose our efforts to seek equal rights under the law that we are here and we will be heard. Right now, the LGBT community needs to band together and use our collective voice to ensure that our civil rights are not eroded by people who would be all too happy to silence us. If you want to be heard, you must be visible. I am hoping this book and book signing tour provides another avenue of visibility for our cause.
I had a vision for the book when I started this project, but I wasn't sure how I would make it into a reality. From very early on I was amazed to see how involved our fans became in the Indiegogo campaign. I was shocked and humbled that in only 60 days, I raised over $105,000 with over 1,000 contributors. I was thrilled that with their help I was actually going to be able to create this book and go on this journey with them. In the book, I listed the names of everyone that contributed to the campaign in order to express my appreciation.
I am so grateful to each and every one of them for believing in me and my message.
The funds that we raised will allow me to take this message of LGBT empowerment on a world-wide book signing tour over this next year. I would love to be able to meet as many people as possible that contributed to the project, along with those that want to stand with me in promoting LGBT equality in the USA and around the world.
My intent is to get people talking about how SEX = POLITICAL FREEDOM. You are only politically free if you can fuck who you want without any negative consequences, such as being fired from your job or, in some counties, jailed, tortured, or killed. The LGBT community, especially our youth, need a medium to remind them to be concerned about our LGBT brothers and sisters living in hostility around the world. SEX=POWER=FREEDOM does this without lecturing, without diminishing the intelligence of our audience -- it peaks people's interest and hopefully motivates them to be outspoken and keep the conversation going. Now, more than ever, we must discuss our rights, our liberties, and our pursuit of happiness -- our pursuit of sex, our pursuit of power, our pursuit of freedom.