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Speaking OUT
Cover of Speaking OUT
Speaking OUT
Queer Youth in Focus
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A photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages 14–24, identifying as queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual,...
A photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages 14–24, identifying as queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual,...
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Description-

  • A photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages 14–24, identifying as queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning), Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus presents portraits without judgment or stereotype by eliminating environmental influence with a stark white backdrop. This backdrop acts as a blank canvas, where each subject's personal thoughts are handwritten onto the final photographic print. With more than 65 portraits photographed over a period of 10 years, the book provides rare insight into the passions, confusions, prejudices, joys, and sorrows felt by queer youth and gives a voice to an underserved group of people that are seldom heard and often silenced. The collaboration of image and first-person narrative serves to provide an outlet, show support, create dialogue, and help those who struggle.

About the Author-

  • Rachelle Lee Smith is an award-winning, nationally and internationally shown and published photographer. Her work in Speaking OUT combines her passions for activism and photography to tell the stories of, and provide a rare insight into, the lives of queer youth. She lives in Philadelphia. Candace Gingrich is an LGBT rights activist with the Human Rights Campaign. Her involvement in the movement for queer equality began when her brother, Representative Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, was elected House speaker. She lives in Hyattsville, Maryland. Graeme Taylor skyrocketed to international attention when he confronted a school board for not defending gay rights in its schools. He became one of the youngest and most widely known openly gay teens in America. He was interviewed on MSNBC's Jansing & Co. and the Ellen Degeneres Show and is now the subject of a short film, Shrug. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 10, 2014
    Sincerity shines in this photographic essay consisting of portraits of queer youth. Smith spent 10 years photographing queer and trans youth (ages 14–24) in front of plain white backgrounds, inviting each subject to write directly onto the photographic image. This collectively written essay collects the portraits as well as the testimonies of those involved in the project. The messages on the photos include unbridled optimism (“Dance The Life Fantastic”), political defiance (“I don’t fit into the shape of your box / Undefined is how I define”), and taxonomic rundowns (“genderqueer, dyke, polyamorous, democrat, artist”). “Speaking out,” as the guiding theme of these personal narratives, lends itself to platitudes, but that emerges as an accepted and even praised aspect of the project, as the subjects, now several years older, reflect on their youthful lack of pretension. Even when the subjects speak to prejudice or violence, the entirety of the work maintains a celebratory tone, right in line with the It Gets Better campaign and the Free to Be... You and Me movement. The book’s appearance is cheesy, with flashy text and sidebars reminiscent of a teen magazine, but the core idea of elevating young trans and queer voices remains strong, and the nearly 70 represented subjects will surely offer affinity for almost anyone who finds this buoyant book.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from December 1, 2014
    Art, activism, individuality: the spectrum of queer youth, speaking in their own words.Smith presents her artwork as a photographic essay exploring the amazing diversity among young people (all 14 to 24 at the time of their photographs) identifying themselves as queer, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or questioning. Originally displayed in 2007 at the opening of the then-new campaign headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign as "Pride/Prejudice: Voices of GLBT Youth," all the photographs for this collection were taken against a white background. The subjects were asked to write something, anything, about themselves, their opinions, viewpoints or experiences in the white space of the photo. Some feature only the photo and words originally written. Others feature a few sentences to a paragraph contributed seven years later. A few aren't totally legible, but ranging from a simple declaration to a manifesto, the words of the subjects are illuminating. The collection features a foreword by Candace Gingrich, who saw and was moved by the original art show, and an afterword by Graeme Taylor, who at 14 spoke to his school board about supporting LGBTQ students and won awards when that speech went viral. This presentation simultaneously highlights the individuality of the subjects and proves to those who may be isolated by geography or culture that they are not alone. An important work for queer youth and those who support them as the future they represent. (Nonfiction. 13 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2014

    Gr 10 Up-This gorgeously produced photo-essay book takes a unique spin on showcasing LGBTQ youth. The young people in the photographs speak for themselves, some in longer form essays, others by writing, scrawling, or drawing directly onto the images themselves. Their words seem truly their own, not edited or filtered through an adult editorial lens, which allows them to be messy, contradictory, inspiring, well spoken, frustrating, occasionally graphic, and interesting, sometimes all at the same time. The photographs are beautifully presented, and the technique of including the subject's writing upon them is compelling. At times the handwritten notes are difficult to decipher, but that adds another intriguing layer of complexity to the work as a whole. Some of the youth also write more at length in formatted sidebars, reflecting on how their thoughts about their identity have shifted since they were first photographed. Some of the other text inserts, like a positive review from the Huffington Post or the Human Rights Campaign, seem out of place but do not detract too much from the reading experience. Smith includes an impressive array of youth, diverse in age, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. One noticeable lack is that none of the subjects clearly identify as trans women, though trans men were well represented. Overall, this is a stunning and unique addition to the existing literature, with an immediately relevant approach.-Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Advocate

    "These are portraits of a revolution. Photographer Rachelle Lee Smith gives lesbian and gay youth an outlet to speak for themselves. Simple, yet powerful photos of queer youth speak reams."

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Queer Youth in Focus
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