$1,500 Scholarship and Hearst Medallion
While in an entirely new city, the simple things a human longs for: experience, connection and pleasure, are simultaneously faced with environmental obstacles in a world that has been ravaged by a pandemic and political polarization. A new home calls for evaluation of identity as well when placed in an unfamiliar atmosphere and not a single person they know is there to guide them. As the photographer navigates life and what it means to be openly queer, Washington, D.C., serves as a clean slate for observing how one's surroundings and self has been influenced by the state of the world. Following the deadly insurrection at The Capitol on January 6, a fence has separated the public from the people's house and remains so on Saturday, June 5, 2021.
The photographer's self portrait is seen through the heavily scratched and stained window of the Romeo & Juliet Garden Cafe on Saturday, June 5, 2021. The eatery is one of many restaurants across the nation that lost its business when the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the world and several business owners suffered from the economic consequences, with many resulting in closing permanently.
The photographer's regular work commute on the Metro's red line from Union Station calls for several moments of people watching, especially when rays from the five o'clock sun peek through the station's giant concrete arches and act as a spotlight, luminating passerbys on Sunday, June 6, 2021.
Christopher Canes (center) sits on his phone while it charges next to Drew Walters (left) inside Union Station on Sunday, June 6, 2021. Upon introducing themselves, Canes begins mentioning where he is from and why he is in Washington, D.C. " I'm from Alabama. I don't know this dude, but he just came here and doesn't have anyone here for him at all. I don't know anyone here at all either. I don't know him, but I will go out of my way to just be there for anyone if they need." After the photographer responds with understanding, Canes continues, "You're going to make me want to hug you. That's my Pisces, though. I don't believe in any of the astrology stuff anymore. All of it is the work of the devil and I don't want to be going to hell. I follow Jesus. God is giving us things like money and challenges and we have to be doing the right thing," he says. Canes opens the same queer dating app the photographer uses. The app shows users how many miles–or feet–other people are from their location. "Is this you?" He opens a profile showing '10 feet away.' "I only be on here for. . .meeting people. Like I said, I don't know anybody here. If I walk with you, I'm going to hell and you're going to hell." Drew sat in silence the whole time.
Commuters sit through a routinely ride on the Glenmont-bound Metro stopping at Union Station on Monday, June 7, 2021.
After meeting each other thanks to a social and dating app designed for the queer community, the photographer spends time with Red Joseph as he peels off his workout shirt to do warm-up stretches prior to a planned two-mile run on a hot, muggy afternoon when the heat index reaches ninety-five degrees on Sunday, June 6, 2021.
Wes Flores attempts a trick on his BMX bike at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 7, 2021. Following a work day, the photographer found Jim Fajardo, pictured shirtless, recording videos of Flores making several attempts at the same trick. "I can't. I can't anymore, dude. I'm about to pass out," Flores exclaimed soon after. "Just two more! Drink more beer," Fajardo insists. "Fine, two more," Flores affirms while biking back to the starting point. "Ten more? Okay, you got this," Fajardo answers.
"Take a ride on the Circulator some time. You don't get to see the places and people around you on the Metro. I'll take you exactly where you need to go," says Driver McCormick, who preferred to be identified only be his surname while waiting outside for riders to hop on the bus heading to Congress Heights in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, June 6, 2021.
On a night out at La Plaza Mexican Cuisine, Nia Dumas (left) laughs during a conversation with Julia Howell (center) and Nathan Hart (Right) over tacos, burritos, guacamole, margaritas and tequila on Saturday, June 5, 2021.
Seafood restaurants at the Washington Channel in Southwest Washington clean up after closing hours with rows of metal gates set in place to ensure customers are physically distanced on Monday, June 7, 2021.
Waiting on their friend to close up the shop they are sitting at, Ruben Amirez and Sean Jackson hand off a lighter to each other while smoking cannabis out of a potato with fluorescent, neon lights setting the tone on Monday, June 7, 2021.
Manvinder looks to his right as an ambulence whirs past his Lincoln Continental while driving through a tunnel as an Uber driver for the night of Monday, June 7, 2021. "This is my first night out doing this again after fifteen months," he says. After complimenting the car, Manvinder responds, "Thank you. Invest."