Salt of the Earth documents the cowfolks of our time.
I’m fascinated by the mythos of the cowboy and what it has represented historically and in the present day. They are thought of as independent, lone rangers full of machismo and tough as iron. In reality, they were often lonely, marginalized outliers of society. The cowboy has been co-opted by Southerners (mainly white men) as a mascot for their independence. In the past few years, there has been a reclamation of the cowboy by people like Orville Peck and Lil Nas X, both gay country musicians. As the legend of the cowboy rises once again, I wonder where they fit into our current world.
Growing up as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in a small Southern town, I quickly learned that cowboys, country music, and rodeo life were not “for” me. They were symbols of exclusion and bigotry—when the same truck with a Confederate flag waving behind it roars past you while blasting the latest top country hits, it doesn’t take long to associate all things “Southern” or “rural” with danger. However, after living in the PNW for a few years, I’ve had the chance to reflect and learn about how people like me are reclaiming the cowboy for their own. This series documents fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community that I believe embody the best of the “cowboy” spirit: their fierce independence, their style, and the loneliness that comes with declaring who you are.
Liv Hagan is a graduating senior studying Photo/Media at the University of Washington. She was born and raised in a suburb of Houston, Texas, before moving to Seattle for college. Liv first got into photography during her freshman year of college, and gradually abandoned her plans to study “something STEM-related” in favor of art. She has also been an active member of the theatre community during her time at UW with the Undergraduate Theater Society, where she has stage managed, designed, and directed undergraduate productions. Her latest theatrical venture is an adapted audio drama of Alice in Black and White by Robin Rice which can be found at uwuts.org around the first week of June.