As a gay woman, I’ve always been more than a little disturbed by people genuinely asking me or my peers “Why do you need gay pride? We don’t have straight pride!” And it bothered me more and more. I knew why I needed pride, I love having a community that’s as vibrant as I am, having a support system, having a little slice of time where I can celebrate who I am, together with my people, with fewer other people balking at it. But what did pride mean to other people? Last summer, the Paul Smith store in LA painted its infamous pink wall rainbow and I got an idea–what if I photographed my friends in the LGBTQ+ community in front of this wall? When I tried to do the first portrait there, I was turned away; the company does not allow professional photography on the premises, so I started at square one again. I bought every pride flag that I could find and used my own equipment and set up a portrait session. And then another. And then another. My project, A Year of Pride, was born. I photographed friends, actors, families. When we went on Parahoy, I brought my setup with me and photographed 55 cruisers. Each portrait is taken in front of the pride flag of the subject’s choice, accompanied with a statement of what Pride means to them, and why its necessary to our community. I’ve photographed nearly a hundred people over the last year, LGBTQ+ folx and our allies, and hope to grow it with each year that goes by.
I’ve heard beautiful stories, I’ve heard heartbreaking stories, I’ve witnessed the strength of people first hand and discovered with each story that until every story is told, the people outside of our community will never truly understand why we need pride, and I am committed to telling these stories as long as people will come forward and sit for a portrait and tell me theirs. Hopefully over the next few years I’ll be able to travel more places and hear and share more stories, but until then, I’ll be here in LA, photographing one LGBTQ+ person or ally after another. Yours could be next!
Written by Jackie Teeple
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