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New book celebrates LGBTQ icons in their homes

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‘Kings and Queens in Their Castles’ offers a glimpse into the homes of prominent members of the LGBTQ community

Photo of a man siting at dining table with another man standing nearby in a room with artfully crumbling walls and a collection of porcelain on a shelf.
John Fulton Adams and Ron Megee at home in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photography by Tom Atwood

A new book from photographer Tom Atwood captures American celebrities and other icons of the LGBTQ community in their most intimate spaces—their homes.

Titled Kings and Queens in Their Castles, the monograph offers a glimpse into the private lives of over 160 subjects, ranging from famous actors to trans artists to drag queens and other iconoclasts who came up during the 1960s and ’70s—as well as business people, clergy members, and students.

Although readers may recognize more than a few of the luminaries spotlighted in the book, what may be even more striking is the quotidian nature of these portraits, whether of the actor George Takei wrapping gifts at his dining table, or of beekeepers Mary Celley and Sue Williams checking in on their hives on their snowy property in Brooklyn, Wisconsin.

Equally mesmerizing is the chance to peek into the subjects’ physical spaces, which are as varied in style and scale as the personalities themselves. “My approach is a blend of portraiture and architectural photography, to illustrate that subjects and environments are a unified fabric,” Atwood writes in the introduction.

I shoot subjects at home because our natural habitats bring out our character. The LGBTQ person’s home is an extension of him/herself. And for a community sometimes obsessed with image and beauty, our living spaces can also be the ultimate in self-expression. With a flair for design, many of these subjects have crafted playful, often outlandish homes that tell stories about their inhabitants.

Among those photographed for the book are cartoonist Alison Bechdel, designer Jonathan Adler, author Dan Savage, journalist Michael Musto, and producer Christine Vachon.

Atwood photographed more than 350 people from 30 states over the course of 15 years for this series, making it one of the most ambitious projects of its kind. Below, a few portraits.

Don Lemon at home in New York City.
George Takei at home in Los Angeles.
Meredith Baxter at home in Santa Monica, California.
Doug Spearman and Marc Anthony Samuel (friend) at home in Los Angeles.
Carson Kressley at home in New York City.
Mary Celley and Sue Williams at home in Brooklyn, Wisconsin.