The Upper Arlington Photoclub went from just four members to nearly 25 in the past year and a half. Today’s interview captures one if it’s leaders, Gray Matthew, a bold, vibrant and authentic art student at the high school. Gray shares their experience trying to find their place in a world where expectations too often lead us to conform to something we are not.
For those reading who are unfamiliar, could you clarify your gender identification: I would define my gender identity as not wanting to commit to a gender. What that means is I prefer not to identify with any gender. I identify as a genderless human being or known to others as they/them, non-binary or agender.
Is photography something that you have always been passionate about: My dad has been a photographer for twenty years and got me my first camera when I was six. I would say it was more of a hobby up until the past year or so when I started taking myself professionally.
Favorite spot to shoot in Columbus: This huge, deteriorating bird mural underneath a bridge on Indianola.
Best advice to young adults trying to find themselves: Get out of your comfort zone. You never know how far it will go until you break it. The first thing I did that pushed my comfort zone was buying a camera and next thing I know I got a booked up weekend at an anime convention for photoshoots.
One question you wish people would stop asking: “Are you still straight?”. The simple answer is yes, but the complicated answer is no- you can’t be straight when you don’t identify with a gender at all. If you want a term for it, I’m polysexual.
Do you feel like you have made a significant impact on Upper Arlington High School at this point in history: I believe that I have opened up a conversation. When I was interviewed for the Arlingtonian, I started a conversation about something that is not generally talked about in Upper Arlington.
Talk about how you spend your days at school? Why do you think it’s important for students to realize there are opportunities outside of the traditional classroom: I wake up an hour earlier than other students, take the bus to Fort Hayes where I am a TV and Film production student. We focus mostly on adobe photoshop and intense certification, a professional title.
People should explore opportunities outside of their school, not just outside of their classes. Opportunities like technical school should be pushed more towards students by faculty. You can go out and meet new people.
One wish you have for the world in terms of the LGBTQ community? Representation. There was a law just passed for a transgender ban on the military- that diminishes the LGBT community. We need to stop dehumanizing humans. We need acknowledgment as to being real people. Some, if not all LGBT people cannot help the way that they are. We need to people to try and understand.
To see more of Gray’s work or book a shoot, check out graytakespics on Instagram or email email@example.com.