Undoubtedly, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities have suffered at the hands of hatred and disillusionment when in search for a glimmer of acceptance within the boundaries of society’s rigid norms.
In celebration of the acceptance garnered thus far and to raise awareness of these lifestyles, The University of the Arts will be displaying a collection of over 300 photographs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) young adults in the exhibition titled “Exuberance!”
Running now through May 3, “Exuberance!” will feature the works of Rachelle Lee Smith, an alumni of The University of the Arts whose photographs have been displayed in such publications as Curve magazine and whose talents have been honored with the Fuji Documentary Award for two consecutive years.
The exhibition will also spotlight the work of Mike Glatze and Benjie Nycum, the founders of Young Gay America and creators of the first comprehensive resource guide for gay youth: The XY Survival Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Being Young And Gay.
Since March of 2001, Glatze and Nycum have driven over 46,500 miles, visiting 60 town and cities, to document the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth for Young Gay America, an organization founded on the principles of educating the GLBT community on their vital status in society.
“In 30 years, we will look back at this time at the turn of the millennium as the birth of a movement,” said Nycum.
“Never before has there been a definable subculture of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.”
By the end of their journey, Glatze and Nycum interviewed over a thousand young people, taking over 8,000 photographs; a portion of which will be displayed as five-inch square colored photos arranged in wall-size grids, candidly depicting the faces of the youth who have defined their journeys.
Smith will present her interpretation of the GLBT life through a palette of 16- by 20-inch color portraits capturing the raw emotions of these young adults.
Individually photographed against a white background, Smith eliminates the power of one’s environment to bridle true emotion by allowing her subjects to trust simply in the eye of the lens.
Just as Young Gay America offers a chance for the GLBT youth to bare to the world the truth of their sexual and emotional personas, Smith allows her subjects a chance to bare their souls in the name of truth, coloring the stark white background with their own words and personal stories.
The scope of “Exuberance!” envelops the idea that homosexuality and the transgender culture existing in America can be embraced by society when promoting the idea of knowledge before judgment, tolerance before hate.
Be it through the lens of a camera or the stripped, unshielded eye, “Exuberance!” challenges people to see the world in its honest nature and to accept its naked truth.
Coryn Brown can be reached at McButtaflyz@aol.com.