Introduction by The Forest Editor Aiden:

"I met Holly at the 'Spring is Queer' festival last year that we hosted at our former Forest Gate community hub
Tracks with SheHerTheyThem to uplift and bring together queer women, non-binary, trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people across Newham. As well as Holly photographing the event, they also hosted a portrait exhibition entitled 'People Like Us' to shine a positive light on more marginalised groups and explore transforming identities including trans, non-binary and non-conforming genders.

Holly mentioned that the next phase was to launch a People Like Us photobook to reflect the love and joy that has gone into the collaborative community project. They are currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter to produce their highly anticipated photobook which you can contribute to
here to secure your copy.

Here's how Holly found their community in Forest Gate and the inspiration behind the People Like Us project"

People Like Us - Sabah

I’m an artist-photographer and dog person based in Forest Gate. When I’m not out and about shooting portraits and performance, you’ll see me running round the flats with my crazy cocker-spaniel Bowie. I’ve lived here for 10 years and love it. I was in Leytonstone before and Dalston, Hackney before then, I’d barely heard of Forest Gate but I’m so glad we couldn’t afford to buy in any of those places when the time came or I might not have discovered this surprisingly quirky area.

It's full of green space which I realised is one of the most important things I need for my well-being, along with my photography!

I met Aiden of The Forest Mag at Tracks when I was involved with the wonderful SheHerTheyThem events for queer people. Last summer they held a beautiful fayre there with stalls, workshops and cabaret which I was part of, exhibiting and selling some work as well as photographing the event.

I graduated with a fine art degree in 2001 and it took me a decade to find my way into the beginnings of a sustainable practice. I now have a good balance split between my personal work and my freelance photography photographing performers predominantly, and some education at various levels from workshops with young carers to sessions with MA performance students and teaching an A level in a local college.

Over the past 15 years I’ve made a significant contribution to the documentation of queer performance and its icons in London, creating a record of a specific movement and the community surrounding it, much of which is archived at Bishopsgate Institute in Shoreditch which you can check out here.

Holly Revell Archive

My personal projects have always overlapped with my freelance work and the people I meet at queer venues and events. It was through an early project, DARKROOM; an experiential photo-booth which invited participants to join a tableaux installation and make pictures in the dark, which I was doing at queer club nights and art events (2009-14) that I started to meet artists wanting their performance art photographing and although I’d never anticipated photographing other artists’ work it was the start of an extremely fulfilling career and the making of an archive which really captured a particular moment in the history of queer performance here in London before it became so popular.

For the past 6 years I’ve been working on a collaborative photography project called People Like Us exploring trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming identities and experience, from AFAB (assigned female at birth) perspectives.

It was inspired by conversations with a friend who was beginning their transition in 2017 and from noticing other folk around me as they came out about their genders.

There wasn’t as much visibility or voice for this part of the community back then so we decided to help change that, it now includes over 50 people from a rich variety of backgrounds and gender diversity.

The overall aim of this book is to provide positive and joyful representation of these identities and their personalities, layered with varied individual and collective experience. It will also include participants’ quotes and an essay by hotpencil press. To be seen and to be able to see others like you is affirming and can be life changing. Positive and truthful representation is so important, particularly for marginalised groups who are often demonised in mainstream media. Our trans and non-binary youth not only need to be shown there are others like them, that they exist and are valid, but that they can also live happy and fulfilling lives.



I feel that work like ours is really important in the current climate of fear and confusion, showing real queer people authentically being themselves. This project has been affirmative both to participants being photographed in a way that makes them feel seen and nurtured and from viewers’ perspectives; seeing images of people like them that they can relate to positively.

I’ve also had an interesting journey in terms of my own gender identity during this project; I’ve met people who I identify with and have discovered the terms non-binary and gender-neutral fit well for me. As someone who has always been a bit different and never fitted into any female or male groups, except for gay men, I feel quite at home with People Like Us, but it’s taken years for me to allow myself or feel ‘entitled’ to use gender-neutral pronouns, they/them, as I haven’t experienced gender-dysphoria or had any issues particularly.

However, I’ve learnt there are so many ways to be non-binary or any of the other terms and identities, just like there are so many ways to be woman or man and it’s totally fine to decide for yourself what feels right for you!

The community needs work like this and we are now starting to archive it properly too so that future generations will be able to see those who came before them more easily rather than digging around for scraps of evidence that they have always existed and hopefully the mainstream will be able to get over their fear and accept there are so many ways to be in the world and let people live their lives. Our work will be archived at The Museum of Transology, which is the UK’s most significant collection of objects representing trans, non-binary and intersex people’s lives and the Bishopsgate Institute LGBTQ+ collection.

If you would like to find out more and support the book, the link to the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is here which is on throughout March - backing it will act as a pre-sale to secure your copy of the book along with other fantastic rewards you can pledge for.

You can check out Holly's website here for their photography archive and for further updates follow @hollyrevellphotography