Finn and Telana open up about their journey to self-discovery
Finn and Telana are an artist and musician, respectively, who define what it means to be young and free. They’re not a real life couple, but in this shoot and in their everyday lives, they’re breaking boundaries through their art, their relationships, and their self-expression. Below, we have two essays written by Finn and Telana and a series of photos, all shot and illustrated with Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
Cover shot on Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Transparency, whether it be personal or artistic, is something that can not be taught. There is a certain understanding of self that must be obtained on your own. And as a queer young adult, I’ve learned that this journey to self discovery can be turbulent.
The balance between personal identity and transparency as an artist is something I’ve come to value in my late teens. Growing up in a small town in Florida, anything relatively unconventional was totally taboo. Being queer was no exception.
I struggled with having to battle my family’s conservative Christian background. As a kid, I had to explain myself a lot; which was surprisingly very stressful. Constantly standing my ground in my household finally began to show its worth, and my family slowly began to accept me for me. From a young age, I exhibited a range of inexplicable emotions including intense anger and confusion. Personally, I wasn’t only confused about my own identity. I was also confused about the expectations and regulations that seemed to be conventional to most of those around me.
Finally, when I was twelve years old, I heard the word “transgender” for the first time (on a TV show nonetheless). I realized that, for the first time, I could properly identify myself. Understanding more about stereotypes, the binary, and the spectrum helped to make more sense of myself as a trans boy.
I attended a high school that refused to comply with any of the needs of transgender students, essentially putting a target on my back. I had to watch out for the remainder of my school years. People in my town would even belittle me or become hostile towards me in numerous ways upon seeing me out in public. But I really just never gave a fuck about the opinions and actions of those with closed minds, so I just kept doing my own thing. My focus was ultimately on making sure I was safe by going out in groups, but mostly making sure that I was making myself happy.
That being said, self acceptance is only the beginning and the road that follows is different for everyone. Coming out was initially terrifying, especially in a small town. It was important, but not always easy, for me to help my family and friends to broaden their own understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. The balance between existing, coping, and growing as a transgender man could be hard to navigate. Like I said, everyone’s situation is completely different and not always easy.
Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, I learned so much more about myself as a trans boy, while also going through the trials and tribulations of identifying as such. Self expression starts with understanding. With that understanding comes practice, which in turn helps to find balance.
By the time that I was eighteen, I found myself across the continent to find my footing in California. Traveling and growing out of the small town in Florida was just the next step in proving to myself more than anyone else: that I could make it on my own, whether I fit into a binary/stereotype or not.
Gender is something that is very fluid and often misunderstood. When it comes to perception of gender, it really just depends who you ask. Gaps between generations, ingrained homophobia, and stigma are still constant negatives that queer people deal with as a whole. The internalized fear that goes along with not only coming out, but simply existing as a queer person is not something that everyone can understand. This is important, and something that helped me to realize that self identity is very personal.
Trust in myself and my ability is what led me to be the transparent person that I am today. The lifestyle of a queer, transgender artist may be unconventional and sometimes frustrating, but it is also extremely rewarding. The choices I make to pursue my talents and passions on a day to day basis can be petrifying, especially when you’re doing it alone. I’ve learned the importance of representation, and how putting yourself out there is just as essential as it is exhilarating, as scary as it may be at first. It is this trust and understanding in myself that has helped me to flourish as a trans artist.
I’ve remained self-sufficient, worked with people I look up to, put on art shows, and built not only my portfolio, but also my own brand in the last year. Opportunities are everywhere, and they come with acceptance and trust. While finding your niche may be challenging, I’ve noticed that practicing the ability to overcome the fear of failure/judgement/etc is ultimately the most uplifting thing you can do for yourself.
Trusting the process, as well as transparency, has taught me that being queer is not only a part of who I am, but something to be to be proud of.
in a state of constant becoming
Trying to define my voice from a place within myself that is ever-changing isn’t easy.
As an artist, I am always refining my perspective and transforming through my art. I will always be Telana but I change so fast that even the people around me become distant. Those who are real understand the nature of my being, and through their understanding, I become whole.
Unconditional love revives us all and so keeping those relationships close brings me great solace. My opinions fleet often. Much of my creation is instantly met with destruction and I try not to let it scare me. I am in a place in my life where my soul is choosing the movement. I can try to help it but she runs freely into open space liks nothing I’ve ever seen.
My mind is a pupa, I am learning to fly and as I melt into a new state of consciousness the questions outweigh the answers. My consistence only exists in the acknowledgement that I am inconsistent. People around me attempt to guide my path because they love me but the winds of spirit get the best of all of us.
The ebb and flow of life becomes who I am. This is a time capsule of my 21-year-old self. Hey, older me, I love you still and forgive you for all that you have become.
I am learning to accept what I am. I believe that we are all learning the same things on different dimensions to our path. We are all part of the oneness and so thank you for experiencing this lifetime and journey with me.
Finn wears a Glam Glow mask
All wardrobe provided by Missguided and It’s Honey Vintage