The Thought Leaders Issue: Ariel Nicholson

The Thought Leaders Issue: Ariel Nicholson

The Thought Leaders Issue: Ariel Nicholson

The model and artist on queer advocacy, transphobia, and rebuilding the country.

The model and artist on queer advocacy, transphobia, and rebuilding the country.

Photography: Inez & Vinoodh

Styling: Aryeh Lappin

Text: Owen Myers

V127’s Thought Leaders Issue is available for pre-order now.

“Ever since Trump was elected, it’s felt very disheartening—almost like the system failed me and failed us. America was never great. We colonized land; this land doesn’t belong to us. The country is in shambles, and there are so many pressing issues that need to be addressed. The current administration isn’t meeting the [challenge]. When I vote, I want to put my voice behind someone who will at least stop the bleeding. We need to stop the chaos going on. But at the same time, it’s okay to make sacrifices to ensure that we have a relative calm, and can heal a little bit—before we continue resisting and radicalizing.

Ariel wears top by Calvin Klein.

“I don’t have a huge following, but I do have enough of a following, and the advocacy work that I do feels very personal and meaningful. It’s my goal to create space for the trans and queer community by existing and advocating, and also making space for more marginalized people than myself, or people who have different intersections of their identity that make their lives more difficult. I am constantly just checking my privilege, and saying, ‘Yes, I am trans, but I‘m also white; I’m also able-bodied.’ I believe all of those things play a factor in my success and ultimately play a factor in who I am.

“I worked at a camp this summer in Port Chester, New York, and I considered coming out to my kids. I wasn’t sure it was appropriate or necessary, but I think kids should be exposed to different identities, whether it’s a trans person or [other] diversity—especially if a caregiver figure has a different background or has a different story. It’s very humanizing, and I think that’s how we can begin building the world back up. Right now, everything feels broken.

“For people my age it’s [important to] unlearn the like systems of oppression that we’ve internalized. I’m constantly trying to disentangle my own internalized transphobia and the inherent trauma that comes with being trans in this society. And I’ve been trying to unlearn the inherent racism that comes with existing as a white person and benefiting from white supremacy. I’ve been trying to ask myself, How can I be an appropriate ally?”

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Credits: Ariel wears top by Calvin Klein, VLM Studio Kim Pollock (Agent) Jodokus Driessen (Lighting director) Marc Kroop (Studio manager) Brian Anderson (Digital technician) VLM Productions Tucker Birbilis (Producer) Eva Harte (Production coordinator) John Nadhazi (Production manager) Joe Hume (Photo assistant) Retouching Stereohorse

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