As a teen, photographer Blue Kizozo rejected religious dogma in order to explore her queer identity
Blue Kizozo was born into a life governed by the doctrines of Catholicism. “My family are Catholic, I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. I was literally cornered by religion,” the London-based photographer tells Dazed. Catholicism dominated her world. “I felt that my parents were synonymous with their religion... therefore letting down God was also me letting down my mum and vice versa.”
Teenagers are naturally curious, but the religious dogma she encountered both at home and at school left little space for self-exploration. In a conversation over email, Kizozo reveals the full extent of her sense of being indoctrinated: “I felt repressed. I wanted to explore existential questions for myself, however, Catholicism seemed to have an answer for everything… so I felt that I couldn’t live a life that was mine; I felt paralyzed.”
“Creating and photographing our reality makes it feel like we are not victims of our own existence” – Blue Kizozo
Despite her best efforts to conform to the tenets of Catholicism, she eventually reached an impasse, unable to reconcile her own needs with the demands of her religion. “I had a clash with Catholicism and it led to a kind of existential breakdown. I was asking myself, ‘Why am I attracted to girls? Where is my curiosity leading me?’” Her own desires were outlawed, institutionally demonised by a headmaster who initiated a petition against gay marriage and encouraged pupils to sign it.
Kizozo rebelled, indulging in the so-called cardinal sins of “sex before marriage, homosexuality and drugs” until her mother eventually kicked her out. She recalls, “I was homed by someone who I had only known for two weeks. They did drugs and they had a dark past.”
As a teen, her life may have been capsized by this conflict, but she did eventually find acceptance and security: “The queer community has been a family to me, especially working with Pxssy Palace. I can finally say I feel safe. At high school, we were taught that homosexuality is something disgusting and wrong. But the people they warned me about when I was Catholic are the people who have shown me the most love.”
Her photo series, Demons of Love is an exploration and exorcism of Catholic guilt. Accumulated over recent years, her portraits of friends are potent, rebellious, and loaded with symbolism that is both richly religious and profane. “I want my photography to show the experience we have gone through,” Kizozo says. “Many of my friends have been homeless, exiled from their families, suffered from drug overdoses and just really finding it hard to live. Creating and photographing our reality makes it feel like we are not victims of our own existence.”
The legacy of her brush with Catholicism hasn’t been entirely detrimental. After everything, Kizozo’s faith remains intact. “I believe in God simply because I have always felt protected and guided,” she tells us. “Life is beautiful and, to me, the beauty is God.”
For a closer look through Demons of Love, visit the gallery above. And follow Blue Kizozo for more updates on this ongoing series.