Guilherme da Silva first met his friend Cecilia when they were teenagers on the internet. They dated for a few months (although Cecilia didn't go by that name at the time), spending hours on the phone talking about their obsession with movies, The Virgin Suicides being one of their favourites. They wanted to connect and take pictures in a hotel room – “we never did” – and instead broke up by email “in the most teenage dramatic way”, he shares. “We ghosted each other.” After ten years had passed, Cecilia finally responded to him on Facebook, asking if he knew who she was. “I connected her last name to the person I knew before,” explains Guilherme. “It was a relief, she told me she had transitioned and she named herself Cecilia after a Virgin Suicides’ character.” Finally, they met in Sao Paulo for a coffee, where Guilherme is currently based. The result of which is a vibrant shot of Cecelia grinning, the first of his ongoing park series. “We say our story is almost like an Almodovar movie.”
This image is the pinnacle to the imagery that Guilherme strives to make. Throughout his caring and celebratory practice, he documents friends and people he’s met online – people from the LGBTQIA+ community that he’s part of. “It’s very sensitive to talk about that, you know, living in a country that kills most LGBTQIA+ people (mostly trans women) in the world is very hard; it’s a cultural, systemic problem that we have to fight against everyday,” the photographer tells It’s Nice That. But through his impactful practice, Guilherme is thrashing the white, straight cisgender-dominated industry. In doing so, he keeps his commercial work separate from personal projects, meaning that his own pieces form as a “safe and sacred space inside of me”; a place to present his friends how they are, “with their own clothes, lying in the grass in the park, being vulnerable and empowered at the same time.”
Another image, Lucas and leo kissing at the monument, further cements his practice as one that’s caring, emotive and change-making. After finding Lucas on Instagram, Guilherme knew he’d become a muse one day. “His angelical aura transcends the screen, we became friends instantly and I took pictures of him every time we met,” he notes. After playfully teasing Lucas about a guy he might have been dating, who Guilherme wanted to photograph him with, Lucas responded stating he’d only do it if they were in a relationship. They made it official weeks later and consequently arranged the shoot in a park. “This one is special,” he says of the picture, where the two subjects kiss. “I remember having the idea to shoot at the monument which is very historical, so there are lots of people around. I was a little far from them to get the whole thing and I yelled at them to make out, and everyone was staring at them (remember that people here are very LGBTQ-phobic). It was a little crowded behind the camera. It was funny. It’s also my most liked picture on Instagram.”
Guilherme’s photography practice is just as much activist as it is a personal exploration of identity, freedom and acceptance. “I want people to feel connected,” he says, hoping that people will be encouraged to show their own vulnerability online. “I want people to see the beauty and the power of being queer, maybe it will change the future. It’s not about being but becoming. To change.”
Guilherme da Silva: Lucas and leo kissing at the park (Copyright © Guilherme da Silva, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.