Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus is a photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages fourteen to twenty-four, identifying as queer (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning). Portraits are presented without judgment or stereotype by eliminating environmental influence with a stark white backdrop. This backdrop acts as a blank canvas, where each subject’s personal thoughts are handwritten onto the final photographic print. With more than sixty-five portraits photographed over a period of ten years, Speaking OUT provides rare insight into the passions, confusions, prejudices, joys, and sorrows felt by queer youth.
Speaking OUT gives a voice to an underserved group of people that are seldom heard and often silenced. The collaboration of image and first-person narrative serves to provide an outlet, show support, create dialogue, and help those who struggle. It not only shows unity within the LGBTQ community, but also commonalities regardless of age, race, gender, and sexual orientation.
With recent media attention and the success of initiatives such as the It Gets Better Project, resources for queer youth have grown. Still, a void exists which Speaking OUT directly addresses: this book is for youth, by youth.
Speaking OUT is an award-winning, nationally and internationally shown and published body of work. These images have been published in magazines such as the Advocate, School Library Journal, Curve, Girlfriends, and Out, and showcased by the Human Rights Campaign, National Public Radio, Public Television, and the U.S. Department of Education. The work continues to show in galleries, universities, youth centers, and churches around the world.
“Rachelle Lee Smith has created a book that is not only visually stunning but also gripping with powerful words and even more inspiring young people! This is an important work of art! I highly recommend buying it and sharing it!”
—Perez Hilton, blogger and television personality
“It’s often said that our youth are our future. In the LGBT community, before they become the future we must help them survive today. This book showcases the diversity of creative imagination it takes to get us to tomorrow.”
—Mark Segal, award-winning LGBT journalist
“The power of a look, a pose, and a story can be seen through Rachelle Lee Smith’s photography and the youth who opened up their raw emotions, insecurities, and celebrations to us all. Sharing stories saves lives, but also reminds us that there can be continual struggle in finding identity and acceptance.”
—Ryan Sallans, author of Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life
“Rachelle Lee Smith’s photographic project presents us with the face and the voice of this generation of LGBT youth: they are passionate, angry, funny, and committed. As an openly gay educational leader, I think this project is critical—not only for young queer people, but for their teachers, parents, mentors, and friends. We need to put this project in libraries and schools across the country!”
—Sean Buffington, President and CEO, The University of the Arts
“These are portraits of a revolution. Photographer Rachelle Lee Smith gives lesbian and gay youth an outlet to speak for themselves. Simple, yet powerful photos of queer youth speak reams.”
“Queer youth have a powerful story to tell and Rachelle Lee Smith has given voice to them through her stark, gorgeous photography. Speaking Out captures the essence of LGBTQ young people - proud, visible and with something important to say. Smith’s collection offers a glimpse of Generation Equality you won’t easily forget.”
—Candace Gingrich, Human Rights Campaign
About the Author:
Rachelle Lee Smith is an award-winning photographer based in Philadelphia. Rachelle’s work in Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus combines her passions for activism and photography.
Author: Rachelle Lee Smith • Foreword by Candace Gingrich • Afterword by Graeme Taylor
Publisher: PM Press/Reach and Teach
Size: 8 x 10
Page count: 128