Artist: Keena Gonzalez
“But If Not For Him” is a series that began in 1996 when Johnny asked me to photograph him in drag. This was the beginning of my project which explores the changes and evolution of one individual.
In the early days Johnny was adamant about being photographed in make-up, wig and dress. Performance for the camera was insisted upon. As our relationship and comfort level grew the restraints which were imposed upon me by Johnny became less and less. It’s a recent occurrence that I’ve been allowed to photograph him unshaven, without make-up and looking very much like a man.
Johnny has had a life long battle with substance abuse. More recently he’s discovered he’s HIV positive. Because of the combination of the two, the decline in his health’s apparent. My question throughout this project has been - what is it that compels Johnny towards certain tendencies and is one tendency a result of the other.