When the photo appeared on social media only hours after the Atlanta AIDS Walk last week, it produced gasps and tears. There, standing pensively among the panels of the NAMES Project Quilt display, is a gloriously dressed man in white platforms heels. An enormous expanse of feathered wings frames him as he silently contemplates the quilt panels at his feet.
The Queer Angel, paying respects to the fallen.
The photograph instantly became a social media sensation, but its origins were unclear. No one seemed to know the person in the photo, or even the photographer. It was a glorious, emotional gift without provenance.
Until now. After some sleuthing online, the Queer Angel and the photographer can be identified.
“The Quilt always brings such a rush of loss and celebration,” Russ Bowen-Youngblood told me. Russell was photographing the event for Q Magazine/Project Q Atlanta when he came across the sight of the contemplative angel. Russell snapped some shots. “When I took the photo, I wanted to take something that was beautiful, peaceful and hopeful. I wonder at times if the Angels among us stop to revisit their past lives and remember their time on earth, too.”