RED HOT launched in London last night, the first exhibition to celebrate the beauty of ginger/red head men with the aim of dismantling the stigma that so often surrounds them. I caught up with the exhibition’s founder and photographer, Thomas Knights, and some of the RED HOT models themselves.
Danny Hilton: Ginger guys tend to be either bullied and desexualised, or, on the gay scene especially, fetishised and put on a pedestal. Why do you think ginger guys provoke such a strong love/hate reaction?
Thomas Knights: Anything different tends to get noticed and as people with ginger hair account for just 2% of the world population, its bound to cause a reaction! I’m not sure why in the UK this rarity has caused a strong distain, and in South America an adored love.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing, it certainly is the case that the prejudice and discrimination towards pale skin and ginger hair (especially among red haired males) has been allowed to exist quite publicly. What’s more scary is this persecution is widely accepted as OK.
Friends from Scandinavia and France were shocked to learn of the way the UK treats ginger hair. They just don’t get how people get away with the openness of the bullying and no one sticks up for them… It really is rather ingrained now and the ginger guys don’t really defend themselves anymore…
The gay community and fashion world has long embraced men with ginger hair – especially in the last few years. But there is still a long way to go with the wider public. RED HOT aims to appeal to a broad audience in order to have maximum impact. I want women to want to have a ginger baby – not feel ashamed of it. I want straight men to think of ginger guys as equals, and I want gay guys to adore them in equal measure. I don’t think fetishisation is the answer – it can be counter productive. An equal platform to everyone else is what we are gunning for.
I’m lucky enough to know some of the RED HOT models, so I asked them how and why they got involved with the project.
First up is Massage Therapist, Tom Macnally, pictured below:
“I jumped at the chance to get involved in RED HOT, not only as a fan of previous work of photographer Thomas Knights but as the cause was one close to my heart. Nowadays I couldn’t be prouder of my ginger heritage but I wasn’t alone in being the subject of ridicule whilst growing up. I hope this project helps to change any negative stereotype of gingers, as it should be celebrated, no matter what your age.”
I also spoke to hunky Personal Trainer, Thomas Wade Nicholls, pictured below:
“Thomas Knights randomly messaged me on Facebook actually. He was on the search for ‘RED HOT’ men and someone had recommended me. I jumped at the chance to do it. I have always celebrated having red hair and not understood the bad rep ‘gingers’ get here in the UK. It’s a central part of my identity and I wear it very proud. I hope this project can help a few ginger kids and grown-ups with their confidence.”
The RED HOT Exhibition premieres at ‘The Gallery’ on Redchurch Street, London, 16th – 22nd December. 2013. If you can’t get there, there’s a calendar that is a must have for 2014!
More info: http://thomasknights.com/