Montgomery Maxton (b. 29 June 1980), is an American photographer, poet, novelist, as well as an award-winning journalist. He is also an artist and noted for his civil rights activism.
Montgomery Maxton was born Michael Kenneth Feds on June 29, 1980 in the upscale Cincinnati, Ohio neighborhood of Mariemont; the second of three children. He was raised a Southern Baptist on a rural six acre estate near Cincinnati that he called Ivy Manor. The untimely death of his paternal grandmother, Mary Clara McCarthy (1938-1991), a ceramic artist, when he was ten had a profound impact on his life and his art. He considers her his first and, to date, only artistic mentor. He said his first passion for art began when he was three and he looked forward to painting ceramic ornaments with his grandmother.
He graduated the class poet and newspaper editor from Goshen High School in 1999, soon thereafter coming out as gay. He stated in a 2010 interview that he was bullied a lot as a teenager, suffered from isolation-related depression, and attempted to kill himself by throwing himself into an icy swimming pool in the middle of winter after an argument with his mother.
He began writing poetry and fiction, and taking photographs, at the same time, when he was 16, and considers them his “twin art.”
CAREER & ACTIVISM
In 2003, the same year he changed his name to Montgomery Maxton, The Advocate Magazine published his flash memoir My Mother, Survivor. That same year the Associated Press ran an interview with him in regards to gay marriage which appeared in dozens of media outlets including USA Today and the Washington Post.
Maxton states he was fired in 2001 from a credit union in Cincinnati, Ohio for being gay. He successfully sued.
His poetry has been published in various journals and reviews and his first collection, This Beautiful Bizarre, was released in 2010 by publisher Moon Ice Press after two publishers picked it up for publication but folded before it was sent to the printers in 2006 and 2009. Maxton designed the cover, which, along with the book, has received high praise.
In 2013 Maxton completed his first novel. He has remained tight-lipped on the details, including the title, but has said it will be released in late 2015. In September 2016 Maxton said that the novel, “Out the Blue” would not be published. He said that writing the book got him through many chapters in his life, but that the book itself at present has no place in his public bibliography.
His photography gained worldwide exposure in 2007 when National Geographic Magazine published his piece “Skeleton In A Gloomy Window.” In 2008 he met and photographed then Senator Barack Obama, a photograph that was also published by National Geographic Magazine and has gone on to become one of his masterpieces.
Maxton has said that seeing racism, anti-AIDS discrimination, and gay-bashing first hand as a very self-aware coming-of-age homosexual in rural Ohio in the 1980s and 1990s allowed him to see hate firsthand and that he decided when he was around age 13 to spend his life fighting against hate as best he could.
Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine has also published his photography.
Artist Shepard Fairey owns a piece of Maxton’s work.
Maxton is an autodidact in both writing and photography, having never sought formal training and education in the crafts. His former publicist described him as, “truly an artistic genius.”
Maxton has drawn criticism for a line in his poem “Love Letter Written in A Burning 767” that reads, “another Republican terrorist inside-job.” When questioned about the meaning of this, Maxton said the book is a work of fiction and that the poem is his favorite in the book.
His only photograph to date to be nominated for an award, Self Portrait with My Dying Grandmother, drew criticism for depicting his grandmother, stricken with Alzheimer’s, on what would be her deathbed. He has forcefully defended the photograph, saying it is graceful and endearing and that it was taken over a year before her death while she was simply sleeping in her bed on one of the many visits he would spend with her.
In 2008 Montgomery Maxton declined an invitation by his conservative accountant to dine with President George W. Bush.
Maxton repeatedly declines invitations to read in public, though in 2009 he made an appearance at a retrospect of his photography. His last public reading was just his second ever, in September 2006, in Cincinnati. The previous was in 2000. He says anxiety, which he developed while being bullied as a child and teenager, causes him to stay away from large events and places where he may be the center focus, though he is working to overcome it. In 2013 Maxton appeared in the audience of a large poetry gathering at New York City’s Poet’s House.
His second photography exhibit, in June 2014 in Philadelphia, sold-out.
Maxton has stated that he would like to work with VOGUE Magazine as a photographer.
He has met and photographed many in the civil rights movement, including Ellen DeGeneres, Judy Shepard, Al Sharpton, President Barack Obama, and the late Coretta Scott King.
Maxton is openly gay and known for his human rights activism and support of the Democratic Party.
Maxton manages a tech company on Wall Street that is headquartered in Tel Aviv.
In June 2015 his former partner, a federal agent for the Department of Homeland Security, died suddenly at age 38 from a gunshot wound to the head. Maxton was inconsolable. The family prohibited him from attending the funeral due to their religious beliefs against homosexuality.
Maxton is previously romantically linked to a world-renowned Metropolitian Opera singer in New York and a healthcare company professional in Philadelphia. He purportedly briefly dated reality TV star Luke Adams. His private and romantic life is closely watched.
In 2016 Maxton had a falling out with designer Micah Shaun, godson of pop star C. C. Peniston.
He lives in Brooklyn and previously has resided in Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio. He has said he would like to live in Los Angeles.
Montgomery Maxton in August 1998, shortly before coming out.
Copyright © Michael Feds. All rights reserved.