Hello, thank you for taking the time to watch this video and learn about this project.
Pride/Prejudice: Voices of LGBTQ Youth is a collaboration of myself as a photographer and activist, and a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Your contributions will help to reach the goal of publishing a book and as a result, spread knowledge and understanding.
With the recent public tragedies and media attention… now, more than ever, these voices need to be heard.
Pride / Prejudice: Voices of LGBTQ Youth is an ongoing photographic essay that gives members of the LGBTQ community a voice. Over the last decade I have worked both as an artist and activist to use photographic portraits with the subjects’ own words to highlight the myriad differences and commonalities of queer identity. My “subjects” have been shot against a stark white backdrop not to single them out, but rather to eliminate environmental influence. Without an environment to give contextual clues or text to tell their story, these people are presented without judgment and stereotype. Only when the subjects’ handwritten text is added to their portrait do we discover their commonalities and their individual stories. What makes this body of work so powerful is not only that each individual youth is given the spotlight and a chance to have a voice, but also the strength of the group as a whole. This body of work tells the stories of youth and identity. Adolescence is a difficult process to endure without the added hardship of societal homophobia. The discovery of sexual identity as a young adult can be both a blessing and a hurdle. This book explores the passions, confusions, prejudices, fulfillment, joys, and sorrows of growing up as a queer youth.
My goal is for every youth center, LGBTQ center, library, school, and youth to own this book as an educational tool. In addition to the documentary art world this book would be perfect for youth organizations and parents hoping to help understand their child or have their child understand themselves and know that they are not alone. Currently in the LGBTQ market, there is no book that engages the subjects in the artistic process to this extent. This body of work has been showcased nationally and internationally in magazines, gallery spaces, youth centers, and universities. In book form this will be more accessible and reach a wider audience.
The purpose and importance of this book is to give a voice to an underserved group of people that are seldom heard and often silenced. The collaboration of image and accompanying text will serve to provide an outlet, show support, open minds, and help those who struggle. It will not only show unification within the LGBTQ community but also the commonalities across all borders regardless of age, race, gender, and sexual orientation.
I believe there is strength in numbers, power in words, and freedom in art, and I strive to raise awareness with this book .
For those who might be interested in the process...this is a very hands on project. It is also laborious and expensive. Each person was photographed in a studio, with a medium format Hasselblad camera. After the film is processed, I print small images to show to the subject. Once I meet up with the person, we choose which photo is technically best on my end and best portrays the person's mood. I then go back into the darkroom and print the images . The final image is a Chromogenic print. A Chromogenic print is a real chemical print made from the negative to a positive in a color darkroom. There are very few of these processors in existence, so this is a rare treat! I print the image with the negative boarder... No Cropping is done! That is the boarder that you see around the image. The finished piece is not complete until meeting again with the “subject” for them to write directly on their print. To get these images to the web and ultimately book form, the digital process, of course, is then introduced. As you can see, it is a long process from beginning to end.
I will continue to photograph new people and to exhibit this work… and will need funding for that, but the funds that I am looking to raise now are for the specifically for book.
Process aside, the important thing is that every dollar counts, your contributions are greatly appreciated and will go directly toward the visibility of LGBTQ Youth at such a crucial time. Thank you.
I am currently looking for the perfect publisher and/or to collaborate with one of you amazing LGBTQ organizations out there!
For more images in this series, please visit http://www.rachelleleesmith.com/PridePage.html
- (65 days)