Service95 Logo
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 
Issue #125 Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Queer in the Country © Felix Pilgrim

Queer In The Country: Meet The Photographer Exploring The LGBTQIA+ Experience Beyond City Life 

Photographer Felix Pilgrim grew up in the buzz of Bristol, in the southwest of England. Despite this, he always romanticised country living, escaping to the pages of Thomas Hardy novels and daydreaming of the hills and fields surrounding the city. “When you live in Bristol, there’s always a hill on the horizon,” says Pilgrim. “I always had this yen to position myself in that field or under that tree.”  

This romantic fever would take Pilgrim to rural Italy in 2016, where he became a travelling actor, blasting Dua Lipa as he drove down windy country roads in a van full of costumes and equipment. A year later, he returned to the hills and fields of home, though he escaped surburbia, relocating to a remote Somerset village. There, he taught acting, staged modern reimaginings of Sweeney Todd with Alexander McQueen-inspired outfits, and photographed events. “The Glastonbury [in Somerset] has a particular energy, in that it attracts lots of people who are very nonconformist – I guess you could say queer in spirit,” says Pilgrim. “I [also] photographed a lot of summer solstice rituals, which I loved. It had a very kind of drag, kind of queer energy.”  

Photography had been a hobby for Pilgrim, but after moving to London in 2019, the pandemic hit, acting jobs dried up, and he was left with the inclination to turn this hobby into a career. In 2022, he started an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at UAL London College of Communication. During his studies, a friend sent him a link to the Re-colour The Rainbow Campaign: a collaborative competition set up by Skittles, Gay Times and Getty Images.  

The campaign was established in 2021 by Getty Images to address a lack of genuine representation of queer people in the Western media and advertising, which often relied on outdated stereotypes. For Pilgrim, this was when inspiration struck. “The images [of the LGBTQIA+ community] that are readily accessible to people are usually of younger people enjoying themselves hedonistically, usually in a city or a kind of nightclub or a Pride event,” says Pilgrim. “There can be potentially a risk of oversimplifying the queer experience down to just rainbow flags, and people looking happy and being in groups.”  

Inspired by his experiences in both Somerset and rural Italy, Pilgrim entered the competition submitting to Getty what would become his photo series, Queer in the Country. “I was in a lecture in January 2023 when I saw the ‘Congratulations’ email appear on my phone. In all honesty, I tried not to react because I didn’t want other students to feel jealous,” says Pilgrim. “I just told my friend Emi. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this just happened.’ But I felt the weight – the weight of pressure from myself – to deliver something important.” 

In his search for subjects to photograph, he turned to Instagram. While reaching out to potential sitters, he was keen to make sure that they felt comfortable. “I would say, ‘Could we create a portrait together somewhere where you feel most yourself or somewhere where you enjoy being?’ rather than ‘Can I take your photo?’” says Pilgrim. “Because I had my photo taken for my actor headshots, I know there’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable when you’re being photographed.”  

Pilgrim’s work is heavily influenced by the German photographer August Sander, whose photographs he describes as “pre-internet Getty Images”. “The thing I liked about August Sander is that his photos had quite a loose quality,” says Pilgrim. It felt like he was responding to the sitter’s individuality, rather than asserting too much of himself into the image.” 

Secretary At West German Radio In Cologne (1931) © August Sander/Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne / DACS 2024

“My God, she looks so modern and sort of genderqueer. It’s amazing. I think that’s probably the image that I was most inspired by. It’s like she’s got a little cigarette and is clasping the chair, and she’s got very short hair and seems very androgynous.”

– Felix Pilgrim

Pilgrim embraced Sander’s loose style to inform how he interacted with his subjects. “There’s something about the black-and-white quality which makes it look like an old photo, sort of modern and old at the same time. There have always been queer people in the countryside, it’s just connecting the past to the present.” 

© Felix Pilgrim

“I photographed Tuni [above], who’s a non-binary dancer. I let them perform for the camera how they wanted to be portrayed. They loved the chance to perform”

– Felix Pilgrim

In 2022, Pilgrim was named one of YouTube and British Vogue’s Future Visionaries. “When I heard about that, I screamed full-on, told the person behind the bar at the cafe I was in, rang my family, had champagne with my boyfriend and then lay down on the sofa feeling extremely overwhelmed,” he says.  

© Felix Pilgrim

“The photo of Joe [above], who’s just stood in the wheat field, in black and white, refers to a very similar image taken by August Sander”
– Felix Pilgrim

Queer In The Country was released as a book in 2023 but the project to redefine perceptions of rural LGBTQIA+ communities continues through Pilgrim’s website. “I hope that it makes queer people in the countryside feel less alone,” he says. “And to know that even if they don’t see another queer person in their village, it doesn’t mean that there’s not another queer person in the next village, or that there’s not many different queer people in your county or your region. It’s a reminder that you’re not alone.” 

Discover Felix Pilgrim’s guide to rural LGBTQIA+ safe spaces and support groups across the UK here

Jamie Styles is Editorial Assistant at Service95 

Read More

SUBSCRIBE TO SERVICE95 NEWSLETTERS

Subscribe