For the majority of my life, I was unsure where I belonged in the world. I grew up in a religious household in a small Southern town. My mother was raised in the Sanctified Holy Church and my father was raised Southern Baptist. As a result of the strict beliefs I had been taught since birth, I did not feel comfortable coming out as queer until I was 21 years old.

It was difficult to navigate the space I was growing up in because I could not relate to it or understand my place within it. I never felt like my truest, most open self when conforming to the culture and ideologies around me. As I came to terms with my own identity, the photo series “Infinite Tenderness” came to fruition.

Trevor In Their Bedroom, 2017. 44” x 35” archival pigment print. Shot on a Pentax 6x7 with 120 Color Negative Film.
© Peyton Fulford, Finalist, LensCulture Exposure Awards 2018

In 2016, I began exploring the notion of intimacy and identity among the LGBTQ+ community in the American South. These are the people I have met and connected with along the way. Through this work, I have documented the exploration of one’s body, sexuality, and gender that comes along with growing up and identifying oneself.

My intention is to empower others and create an accepting space for queer kids that grow up in small towns and rural areas. Each individual in this series is dependent on another for support and understanding of their ever-changing identities.

This is a visual representation of today’s American youth.

—Peyton Fulford

You can see more of Fulford’s work on her personal website. Fulford’s project was singled out for distinction in the Exposure Awards 2018. See all of the inspiring work by the 39 winners, finalists and jurors’ picks!