For the LGBTQ+ community who already face major discrimination across Brazil, the limits placed on self-expression in the country’s conservative schools can be stifling. Photographer Igor Furtado reimagined the concept of the school yearbook by taking portraits of an all LGBTQ+ cast, creating a hypothetical school where free expression of the body could be encouraged.
Words by Alex Kahl.
When he was at school, Brazilian photographer Igor Furtado’s teachers asked the students to predict who and what they would be later in life. The predictions would then be placed in a time capsule that could be opened 10 years later, and Igor loved this idea of imagining his future self. “But since our school was a very prejudicial and conservative place, we were never taught to or allowed to express ourselves,” he says. “I always wondered what we could’ve found in this capsule if we’d had another childhood, if we were able to go to a school where we felt free to be ourselves.”
When you’re there in that environment, and someone asks you about the future, it’s hard for you to imagine anything too different from the present,” he continues. “I had always been a queer child, but back in school, I just thought I would become a lawyer or something.”
Igor wanted to reimagine the school yearbook. He wanted to create the kind of school he wished he’d attended. The result is a collection of portraits of “students” sat in front of bright backdrops, wearing wild outfits, bold hairstyles and expressive make-up.
Every model is from Rio and was chosen because of their unapologetic self-expression and loud sense of style. “We did have a stylist, but none of the models are pretending to be someone else. They were chosen because they express themselves like this,” Igor says. Dressing with your identity on your sleeve takes a huge amount of courage in Brazil, a country that has one of the highest rates of violent crime against LGBTQ+ people in the world. “Life is not easy, and it’s hard to just go around looking however you want,” Igor says.
The experience on set was wholesome and positive, mainly due to the models meeting and getting to know one another. “Rio is actually quite a separated city, so it’s rare for people in the west to know others in the east,” he says. “But the LGBTQ community have to come together like this, because that’s what makes us stronger.”
Explore this very different kind of yearbook below.
“I’m like a cactus. If you can handle
the thorns and know how to wait, I will blossom”
“I'm only here for the buds”
“Those were the seven best high school years of my life”
“Be the reason for your happiness”
“Only thing about being original is that eventually
you will see copies trying to do what you do”
“Dream, believe in yourself
and thus conquer the impossible”
“One day I want to be like Bey they will say:
‘Then you are Tatsuya?’ and I will say ‘Thank you’”
“Who came first? The egg or the chicken?”
Photography and Creative Direction: Igor Furtado
Styling: Guilherme Alef
Hair: Janice Mascarenhas
Hair Assistance: Andressa Litore
Image Treatment and Retouch: Vall Lloveras