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Book Review: Speaking Out – Queer Youth in Focus photography by Rachelle Lee Smith

By Books & Authors, Gay, ReviewsNo Comments
speaking-out-book-cover-rachelle-lee-smith Speaking Out is a collection of photographic portraits of LBGT young people (aged 14-24 years old). 65+ young people, mostly from the USA are photographed. On each portrait young people have shared their thoughts, feelings or an experience. The young people have been honest in sharing their joys and tribulations of being an LGBT youth in a heterosexual world.

In Speaking Out photographer Rachelle Lee Smith took the portraits, handed young people a sharpie pen and left them to write what they wanted. Among other topics, young people wrote about: stereotypes, identity, homophobia, self-love and romantic love. Young people identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. It was great to see transgendered young people represented, however the vast majority of the young people identified as lesbian.

Years later, some young people reconsidered their portrait. They wrote about how their lives had changed and what they would write now. It was enjoyable to read these reflections from young people and the book would have benefited from having more of these. Several pages of the book felt wasted as they contained quotes that either praised the photographer or the book its self. Never was there any praise for the young people who were actually brave enough to share their stories.

Speaking Out is presented well, it’s a large book with 127 glossy pages in full colour. There is the odd page where a young person’s hand writing makes it difficult to read what they’ve written, but at no point is it unreadable.

Speaking Out is an enlightening book that shows how we are all the same, rather than how we are different. It should be available in every school, college, library and youth club.

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Growing Up Gay: My Story

By Gay, History, Life4 Comments

Inspired by Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano, I’ve decided to share my own story of growing up gay.

I’m about eight or nine in this photo, it’s Christmas and I’m striking a pose in my Power Rangers pyjamas proudly showing off my new cross puppet. I remember loving to entertain others, being full of confidence and having no inhibitions. I remember being sensitive, caring and sometimes in a world of my own. My mum describes me as a child by saying I was “such a joy to have.”

If you’d have shown me this photo as a teenager I’d have cringed with embarrassment. By my teen years I’d realised that I was different to others; I became very self-conscious of what my peers thought about me and was hiding my sexuality out of fear of what they’d think, say or do. I also became extremely self-critical of seemingly everything about myself.

Today, I look at this photo and aspire to be like that younger version of myself. I am so thankful that as a child my mum instilled me with confidence to be myself and always made me feel loved. I am still learning and developing as I experience life, but there are many goals I’ve been successful in achieving and the others I’m working towards.

If there are any gay youth who are experiencing what I did in my teens I would encourage them to stay true to who they are, only listen to the opinions of people who truly love you – they will love you for who you are, seek out support (Google: lgbt support) and come out when you’re ready.

I look at this photo and think: how did my family not know I was gay? The answer is that they did! I was born gay and I wouldn’t be any other way.

Published by: The Gay UK on Friday 8th August 2014.

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