PHOTOS: Barbie’s Gonna Flip When She Sees What Ken And His Buddies Are Up To

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For Canadian photographer Bruce Dean, his work is about more than just taking great pictures. It’s a form of political activism and it’s his way of honoring a close friend who was lost to AIDS in 1988.

“Sam Evans befriended and saved my red-neck bigoted butt by opening my eyes,” Dean, who is straight, tells Queerty in an exclusive interview. “He didn’t need to take the time and patience to reveal the error of my ways, and introduce me to the gay culture, but he did.”

As a result, Dean says, he became a more accepting and open-minded individual.

Dean is known his photographs that feature male action figures placed in homoerotic settings and positions, often to humorous effect.

“A large reason why I use homoerotica is to put ‘gay’ in the face of as many people as possible,” Dean says, “to normalize and gain acceptance, to be part of the movement that makes two men holding hands just part of the street scene and nothing more.”

“I hope that my homoerotica would be as bold, brash, and fearless as Sam.”

Scroll down to see some of Dean’s work, and check out more on his Flickr page.

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Published for one-time use only with permission from Bruce Dean. Photographs may not be saved, copied or republished on any other website.