QUEER ISSUE 2014 Photographer Sarah Deragon's Identity Project defines the LGBT community on its own terms.
QUEER ISSUE "One night my wife and I were having a conversation with our friend from Brazil about the bear community, and she had no idea what we were talking about. She said there are no words for identities like bears, cubs, or otters in Brazil — and I realized that the queer community has all of these amazing identities that don't fall within the traditional LGBT umbrella. I got the idea to photograph my community and share with the world who they are and how they identify. I want to destroy the traditional understanding of what LGBT looks like. The Bay Area is a kick ass place to do just that."
Since Sarah Deragon launched the Identity Project (www.identityprojectsf.com ) in January of this year — using funds she raised on IndieGoGo — she's captured dozens of community members in vibrant, sharply focused black-and-white protraits. Each portrait is labeled with an "identity," expressed in the the subject's own terms. It's a heady mix of the familiar and the unique, containing lovely twists like "Three Spirit," "Sober Celibate Daddy-Father Punk," and "Xicanita y Cubanita."
A portraitist by trade (www.portraitstothepeople.com ), Deragon will be taking the Identity Project on the road this summer to Portland, Chicago, Columbus, New York, Austin — prospective participants can apply at the Identity Project site.
"I am totally inspired by the ways in which folks choose to identify and how they engage with and take care of their communities," Deragon says. "I am out in my photography business and that means the world to me. I can be my full self in the Bay Area and I know how lucky I am to say that. It is pretty amazing that a portrait photography business can support two people in San Francisco with the rents as crazy as they are."
As a self-identified queer femme, Deragon says her own community plays a crucial role. "Most of all, I want to give a shout out to the femme community because they have everything to do with the person that I am today!"