a very honest and intimate study of queerthug 2019

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story + photos / Ariana Velazquez
Christopher Quarles, aka queerthug, is an artist and model from San Diego. He works in an array of mediums and most recently has embarked on a musical journey and is writing, producing performing his own tracks.

Christopher and I have been friends for a few years now and he recently moved to Sacramento. We have collaborated a few times on different work and he asked me to photograph him before he left as a timestamp to remember what he was like and what life was like before he left San Diego and moved on to a new chapter in his life. These photos are like an essay on the way that I see Chris, the way that he sees himself and, I believe, a very honest and intimate study on a creative queer black man in America in 2019.


What do you think it means to be a queer black man in America? What is your perception given your personal experience?


I think what it means to be a queer black man in America is having to be supportive of your community authentically through love and non judgement. You need to be strong when you’re weak, so you can inspire, support and relate to other and younger black entities. It’s never 100% easy becoming who you are but it’s definitely inevitable and not something to push aside. It’s heavy when you feel alone especially with identity crisis’ determining social judgment and acceptance. Through my personal experiences all I can say is to create strong friendships and bonds because through thick and thin your friends will be the spinal cord of your life. Being black is so beautiful and being queer is such a divine identification it’s best to preserve such a hybrid.


What is your favorite form of self-expression?


My favorite form of self-expression is making lyricism. It really lets me become very expressive sometimes to the point where I cry lol or get goosebumps. I also love that I can connect with such a vast relative crowd through this form of expression as well. 


Through your lyricism, do you write from personal experiences and feelings you’re having in the moment?


Through lyricism absolutely; in the moment, not so much. When I write it’s more of an accumulative amount of feelings projected through a diaspora of feels. Furthermore, discrediting momentary feels would be completely ignorant. One of the members in Brock Hampton says he “found false love in hotel rooms and temporary feelings”.


Your debut track came out just a short two months ago via Soundcloud – what are your plans for the near future concerning your new venture in music?


 Oh man, lol

Um well definitely to make more damn music! I really went through this world with a heightened fear of being misunderstood(being black and queer, go figure) and my music is a way of projecting understanding that you’re not alone and someone is always listening to you even if you’re not talking to them. 


What are your thoughts on being a bedroom/diy music artist? Is it fulfilling to create everything on your own from scratch and what influence do you think that has on your final product?


I love making music at home, it’s the best honestly. I wanted a profession where I could be around actual and even enigmatic energy. I would say it really is powerful and self enlightening to make anything from scratch and has a HUGE influence on any final product. I’m very excited for what’s to come of my creativity and hope for the best.

Where do you gain inspiration for your music from?


Straight up vibes and energy! Sometimes doing my hair inspires me as well. I don’t know, i really just live with inspiration more than gain it. A true shift of energy will really affect the caliber of music production. 


Who would be your dream collaborator – living or dead and within any medium of creation?


Dream collaboration would be with Erykah Badu.

If I could have any medium of creation it’d be with Donald Glover and Kerry James Marshall. 


Fuck, Marry, Kill – Dev Hynes, Frank Ocean & Tyler the Creator


 Fuck — Frank (because he’d prolly make an album off it)


Kill — Tyler (because he seems a little obnoxious)


Marry — Dev (I feel like he’d tap into a black empowering Love zone I never knew existed within me)


How would you describe your personal style?


My personal style I would say is very “eclectically neutral.” Like Solange, but in some coogi.


If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would your ideal daily routine look like?


That’s a good question, solely because I think about this often; 

I’d live in Costa Rica in a lil house in the mountains but close to the ocean. I have to have both terrains play a part in my life, I’d eat 6 times a day organic and vegan, I’d make music heavily but meditate on my balcony in between production and take a “trip”. Every now and again go to talk to townsfolk and gather food. Toward the evening I’d surf or hike then come back, bath(light incense cones and candles), and draw. To wrap it all up, affirmations on bettering myself as a black man until I fall asleep. 


True and pure character through art is something that many strive for but still find incredibly difficult to articulate through their work. You have such a fluid style and aesthetic that seems to come very naturally. Do you find it easy to stay consistent? What is your process like?

That’s very true and I love the challenge it represents! But thank you so much, it actually does come to me quite naturally as a human I feel like we are capable of doing many tasks that in the awake dream state we can achieve. It is very hard for me to stay consistent which is a blessing and a curse. If I was more consistent with my creativity I probably would be successful as hell right now. But consistency also frightens me Into thinking I will succumb to the regularity of this planet. Some call it ADHD I just call it enhanced mental displacement. My process is to toe test the waters and then run back to jump in. The run back can be the hardest part. But I would advise people to remain unknowing. You don’t have to be consistent with your creativity to attain recognition, but you must remain consistent in being yourself.

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