Photographer Nelson Morales explores Charlotte’s LGBTQ community with his compassionate lens


Taking the stage to share his story with 350 Charlotteans, photographer Nelson Morales didn’t know if his family was alive or dead. Just hours earlier, a massive earthquake activated near his native home in Oaxaca, Mexico.

But, Morales did take the stage and spoke of his evolution as a photographer that started as curiosity and has resulted in a very intimate and compassionate relationship with a community within Oaxaca – the muxe (pronounced “moo-chauy”), who are recognized as a third gender.

“A muxe is a homosexual who adopts female roles and is accepted by society,” said Morales. “He dresses as a woman, acts as a woman and people say that it is a blessing for the parents since when they grow old; a muxe will stay at home to take care of them.”

Morales was introduced to the muxe when a friend invited him to a group of muxes who were participating in a beauty contest. When reviewing his photographs, Morales found a true connection and compassion for his subjects. He dove into their community and continued chronicling their lives, which vacillated between exuberant flamboyance and loneliness.

Soon, he found that not everyone shared his passion for the muxe.

“During the annual festival of muxes, I decided to do my first exhibition in the town square,” Morales said. “Many people liked it, others consider it offensive. It made me think that I could do a lot to make a better compassionate place for them.”

In the process of discovering the muxe, Morales discovered more about himself.

“I understood that I had to seek my own sexual identity through self-portraiture, to accept myself the way I am, to face my mistakes and face life without fear, and always living with passion and dedication,” he said.

This mixture of passion and compassion has led Morales to Charlotte, where he is an artist in residence program at McColl Center. His residency is presented by Bank of America, and supported by the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund and Sandy Berlin.

While here, he intends to continue inquiring about gender expressions and sexual identity within the local LGBTQ community.

Image by Nelson Morales

To learn more about his inspiring program, you can experience Morales’ entire talk and listen to a post-event discussion by:

Watching this video of the morning’s event courtesy of Charlotte Star Room.

Listening to the Charlotte Is Creative podcast, featuring complete audio of a deeper conversation with Morales:

Finally, host Matt Olin recently wrote an editorial in The Charlotte Observer inspired by Nelson Morales. Read it here.

More creativity coming next month! Explore the global theme of “Pioneer” with Haley Bohon, founder of “SkillPop.”

Mark your calendar for the next meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte, 8:30 a.m. Friday, Oct 6. Charlotte entrepreneur and founder of Skill Pop, Haley Bohon, will speak on the global topic of “Pioneer,” a topic shared with more than 170 other chapters around the world.

As always, the morning will include free coffee and delicious local breakfast creations, along with live music, giveaways and creative inspiration. More information is available HERE.

Tickets for this event will be free and can be claimed online at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 2, at Mark your calendar and set your alarm, as tickets always go quickly!

Photos: Heather Liebler, Nelson Morales

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