In a current queer culture where identities are somewhat passe and people are (often rightly so) incredibly critical of labels being limiting to their identities, The Identity Project is exploring a visual depiction of queerness and genderqueerness that is unique and much needed. There is still such a lack of visibility of specific identities, and uncovering these identities is still a challenging and painful process for people. Having just a little bit more visibility is a huge way that we can assure that process continues getting easier and less painful. It is so common to have very specific stereotypes in mind for what certain identities look like—The Identity Project is busting those queer and genderqueer identities wide open with visual depictions of a wide variety of folks with their identity words right next to their images. It’s a powerful statement in visibility and diversity. Working with Sarah is easy and fun! She’s clearly a professional and made me feel at ease in front of the lens.
It is so important to understand the myriad levels of diversity within the LGBTQ communities. Additionally, how people identify will evolve with language. What are the terms that people are using, now? How might this change in the future? All of these issues are addressed in the project. I am always excited for more queer women of color visibility within the LGBTQ discourse. To help facilitate that, by making my own experience visible, is something I am excited about.
Sarah creates a powerful platform for an important dialogue about visibility and self identification! Through images and words she creates a space that I find extremely empowering as a queer woman of color and has me feel seen in who I am. Getting to see the myriad of identities our world is made of is a great reminder to continue to take pride in who I am and the amazing LGBTQ community I belong to. She is also an amazing photographer that made me feel totally at ease from the moment I walked into her studio. I’ve rarely felt as comfortable in front of a camera as I did with her.
As a trans man who is engaged to a queer femme I often feel invisible to the queer community. Assumptions of being hetero and outside of the community has been a challenging issue for the two of us to navigate. Sarah Deragon’s The Identity Project gave us the opportunity to present ourselves as exactly who we are a queer trans and a queer femme who are head over heels in love and very much a part of the queer community. The images that make up this project represent the wide spectrum of the faces of our community, the words associated with each image gives each participant the ability to present themselves with their own unique words so they can be seen as exactly who they are. I love what this project stands for and the diversity it presents.
Sarah Deragon takes identity politics of alphabet soup (LGBPTQQI) and our gay world to a whole new level by complicating labels, but doing so by using the simplicity of candid images in black and white. Her project allows us to define ourselves; and unifies us through our common beauty. Through the expansive self-labeling done by each person in the project, Sarah will give the larger “straight” world a point of connection, commonality and affinity with those queer-dos platformed in the project. On a personal note, I was able to stand proudly in front of the camera and feel that my queer femme self had a place of honor and purpose, that was empowering!
I appreciate this work in that it allows for a multiplicity of identities to be represented so beautifully with respect to each person’s self identity. Sarah was such a joy to work with from the first email to the follow up conversations about images to use for this project. Sarah “sees” people, and does it so warmly. I had fun and that was important for me as I dared to show the world who I am. Thank you for holding this work, Sarah.
As an educator, I have students who struggle with their sexual, gender and personal identity daily. I want them to know, that whoever they may be, they should stand proudly and proclaim it. Sarah’s project reaffirms the idea that individuals should be free to define their own identity in such a kind, lovely and open way. Beyond that, Sarah is professional, charming, and downright talented!
Someone once told me I “couldn’t be both trans and queer,” because they were opposites and cancelled each other out. Not sure how that logic was divined, but it messed with my head for a week regardless until I realized: who are they to tell me who I am capable of being? I already am who I say I am. End of discussion. I wanted to participate in The Identity Project in order to challenge the labels society has chosen for me, and to stand up for the labels I have chosen for myself. I take comfort in the fact that there are many of us who assert our labels in defiance of society’s categorical assignments.
I feel honored to have been able to participate in The Identity Project. As an artist and a member of the LGBTQ community, I was immediately drawn to this project. I think it is an incredibly important project because it showcases so many different types of identities, some that many people don’t even know exist. I think it will not only expand the minds of those outside of the LGBTQ community, but will also help those who feel like they are alone, or feel like there is nothing out there that represents who they are. Sarah’s photographs beautifully capture the diversity of gender and sexual orientation in a very simple, yet powerful way.
First, I love Sarah’s work and she has captured so many important moments for me and my family. I have a huge respect for all the ways she chooses to use her talent and skill to further the visibility of LGBT individuals, couples and families. This project specifically speaks to me because it so eloquently captures what I find to be so damn difficult to make sense of – identity. I’m a genderqueer parent who is still in the process of struggling to find a label for my parenting identity. This photo reflects how I feel on the inside and that, for me, is better than any home I’ve found in a label. I’m grateful to be a part of this project, to stand with so many other brave LGBT folks and hope the visibility of this project helps someone else find less of a struggle or even find peace in their own struggle.
I chose to participate in this project first and foremost because I loved the idea of a photo project with an emphasis on LGBTQ identities, and I just knew that Sarah would do the project so much justice. I also chose to participate because I am proud to be a Queer Latina, and I want the world to know that. In a society that is constantly telling me that being a queer woman of color is not something to be proud of, my smile and visibility will serve as a rejection.
In addition to supporting my partner, who wanted to participate, I found myself wanting to be a visible face of color within the LGBT community. I do not get to see “people who look like me” on a regular basis in San Francisco, but I wanted to let people know that I’m here. We’re here. Even if you don’t see someone who looks like me in your everyday happenings, I am here and I count.
I wanted to be a part of The Identity Project because of the power I’ve found in language. So often I’ve had my queer identities demanded, derided, exposed, or stripped away. But through this project, Sarah gave me a gift: to stand before a camera with nothing but the words I use to buttress myself in a world trying to crush me. I’m transgender. I’m genderqueer. I’m a Christian. These are the words that are creating me; these are the words that are saving me. I didn’t know I needed to do this until it was over.
Modeling for the “Identity Project” was really great! Sarah is a fantastic photographer who made me feel really comfortable in front of the camera- something that isn’t always easy to do! The shoot was really short, but I didn’t feel rushed. The finished portraits are beautiful and really captured “me”- It was great to be able to work with a queer photographer who I could trust would “get” my identities and present them beautifully!
Sarah is amazing... and beautiful to boot! I wanted to be involved in this project because I think transparency is really important. As a Queercore musician and an advocate for queer identities I love to see LGBTQIA peoples acknowledged in a tasteful, beautiful way and it is so great that I’m not the only cisgender male self-proclaiming their genderqueer, feminist identity. Thank you for what you do, Sarah!`
After decades as a subjugated, hidden, and derided segment of the population, we as queer folk have needed to reclaim our pride in how we walk through the world, in who we are, and in how we see ouselves. Participating in this project has given me the opportunity to think through how I see myself, and boil it down to a few descriptive labels. It wasn’t easy to do, but it was certainly meaningful, and I am proud to have my self, my face, my smile, and my identity as a part of this project. Sarah’s support, professionalism, and warmth made it an intensely positive experience. I look forward to seeing all of our beautiful photos in her book someday soon!
It took me some time to decide that I wanted to participate in The Identity Project. I was feeling shy about having my photos taken and also about choosing only a word or two to identify myself. I am so happy though that I did. I’ve been out for almost twenty years, and don’t think I have ever put such time into actually thinking about the words I would choose to describe my queerness. It was enlightening and empowering. Thanks so much Sarah!
As a filmmaker, I understand the power of visibility and recognition. It is so important for queer and gender-variant people to see themselves reflected back: whether on screen, in print, or in a gallery. The Identity Project takes those so often hidden identities and brings them to the forefront, creating an opportunity and space for dialogue, connections, understanding and ultimately building the foundation for bridges between queer communities and the rest of the world. This is precisely my same goal as a filmmaker, which is why I am so proud to be a part of The Identity Project. If awareness is the flame then The Identity Project is a big part of the spark.
As a photographer, I know the importance of personal photo projects. This one personally touched me because so often I have refused to use labels because they were always given to me, instead of me choosing them for myself. I have been asked which little box I fit into, and then told why I do or don’t fit those criteria. As part of the LGBTQ community, we are confined and defined by labels. Participating in this project was huge for me— not only did I have to stand in front of the camera (something that was really scary for me), but I also got to choose how and what I wanted to be labeled as. The whole experience was empowering— I felt stripped down and raw; the bare bones of who I am. As a photographer I was able to experience portrait photography from the other side. Sarah is gifted in making her subjects comfortable and confident. Thank you Sarah for capturing people and their enormous spirits. I look forward to seeing where this project takes you!
Thanks so much—this was such a great experience! I feel a bit like the different identity words I picked often exist for me in somewhat separate spheres in my life, which can be a little disjointing to experience. I’m really excited to see these distinct things I am all lined up together for me as a whole portrait.
I chose to participate in The Identity Project as a way to push myself. For most of my life, I avoided mirrors and photo opps because I was disappointed in what I saw reflected. Today, on the cusp of my 50th birthday, I finally am able to recognize myself when I look in the mirror. I am honored to be pictured with so many other brave, beautiful members of my community, celebrating what makes us unique and what connects us.
When I saw the Identity Project, I knew I had to participate. I am hoping to inspire anyone who is crippled by fear, culture, religion or other people’s expectations to be normal. What is “normal” anyway? I want to inspire mothers who are afraid to come out, who are scared that they will not be a good parent. I came out after my daughter was born and it was the hardest but the best decision of my life. By being authentic to myself, I am happier and whole. I am the best mother to my princess and my fiancé is the best dad to her. She is the happiest and most loving girl I know. We are not just a modern family we are a great and loving family!
What I love about The Identity Project is that it gives folks whose identities are often invisible a platform for visibility on their own terms, which is empowering to participants and to the viewers who see aspects of their own identities reflected back. One cannot discount the radical potential that lives in such visibility.
I participated because I know so many bi/queer women who are not out, who have to hide their same-sex partners, orientation, queer friends, LGBTQ-friendly beliefs and/or bi-status at work, in families, from FB, from clients, etc... In fact, I am not even out about all of my identity words, in all of my realms, so this was a personal stretch for me as well, which I’m proud of. The more of us who come out, the easier it is going to be for others to come out and all the harder for anti-gay politicians because they will see people that they know and love in their worlds and in the media who are out and proud.
I’ve admired Sarah’s work for a long time and love that her focus has been the LGBTQ community. Why not be part of a project I knew would be respectful, inclusive, strong, powerful, and beautiful? I’ve previously done some modeling, but hadn’t done a shoot with Sarah/Portraits To The People. It was one of the most fun and most professional shoots I’ve done. Awesome!