Focus on Equality: 10,000 Photos That Could Shake Up the Gay-Rights Battle

Fri, 27 Jun 2014 09:31:04 PDT

Photographer iO Tillett Wright didn’t think much about inequality growing up in New York City. But when the 28-year-old artist felt discrimination for the first time during a road-trip stop in North Carolina a few years ago, she was moved to start the Self Evident Truths project. Through the campaign, Wright hopes to photograph 10,000 LGBT individuals to destroy the barrier between them and those who look at them differently.

“It was a real struggle for me to confront the reality that people were still voting against gay people’s rights,” Wright says. “[In North Carolina] I realized what people actually deal with in most of this country. I felt a lot of hostility.... It got me thinking—what’s the bigger problem here? Where is the disconnect between those who are voting against our rights and the sweet, beautiful people that I know?”

Wright set out to photograph every gay person she knew in Brooklyn. She thought that if more people felt connected with someone who identified somewhere on the LGBT spectrum, even through an image, fewer voters would support things like California’s Proposition 8. The 2008 ballot measure banned gay marriage with the majority of votes in the state until a Supreme Court decision invalidated it. The few Republican politicians who support gay rights—such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman—are the ones who have gay family members.

Four and half years after Wright went around New York photographing her friends in front of their homes, the project has grown from 45 portraits to a national campaign. So far, Wright has snapped photos of more than 6,000 faces.

“The idea is to humanize us for those who think they don’t know any LGBT people,” she explains in the project’s video campaign. Children especially suffer from society’s lack of understanding, she notes. “You rob children of the opportunity to ever actually be happy when you tell them that a part of their identity makes them a freak.”

Self Evident Truths aims to have 10,000 portraits to showcase at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., because “historically, it’s where battles like the civil rights have been fought.” It’s an ambitious and costly goal, so Wright is asking people to help by sponsoring a photo or spreading the word on social media through the hashtag #weareyou. Once Wright has taken 10,000 photographs, others will be able to submit their own to a growing database.

The campaign—and the gay rights movement overall—has gathered plenty of support recently. As of last year, almost 60 percent of Americans support gay marriage. But for Wright, there’s still a battle to fight. She says, “I would like to gather all of our wins together and blow the house down.”

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Original article from TakePart