To discuss this month’s theme of Elders, I chose to start a photo essay geared toward honoring and representing queer people of color aged 50+. While the approach to the project itself is quite simple, mainly composed of portraits and stories, I believe the images and stories gathered by interviewing people create a powerful message. It is one that not only honors, celebrates, and encourages QPOC 50+ to represent themselves, but also to help raise awareness to a generation that is all too often forgotten.
While my generation, Millennials, are making great strides toward improving the conditions of our community through activism, art, and service, we often take for granted the achievements and sacrifice of those who created the channels which allowed us a seat at the table to begin with.
Self representation is central to this photo exploration. Each of the portraits taken are curated by the individual, who also chooses the location of their shoot according to what that location means to them. I wanted participants to choose a location meaningful to either their past or present, coupled with their identity; I asked them to reflect on their lived experience, relationships with younger generations, their place in community, and advice on moving forward.
Exploring these insights provide us with an understanding of how to further activism and community in the future by gaining insight into the past (through valuable lessons, new goals, and unexplored tactics) , how to make activism and community more inclusive, and how to create a bridge linking generations.
Additionally, this photo essay encourages us to look at oppression and liberation from an intersectional perspective. As EFNIKS readers are already aware of, being a person of color and being queer presents a whole range of unique experiences. Placing emphasis on our elders encourages us to look at our collective experience, being QTPoC, through the unique lens of being 50+, and the unique challenges affecting this branch of our community.
With the current political climate, it has become paramount that we unify in spite of perceived divisions, while still celebrating our unique experiences, to combat the ever present threat to our livelihoods, bodies, spaces, and community. It is more important than ever to consult those who have led our community in the fight against oppression through the adversity of AIDS, homophobia, and racism in order forge a cohesive whole, a collection of diverse experiences that together serve the needs of everyone. This essay is will begin and continue with the hope that it will be read and analyzed, to inspire, unify, and uplift our community.
You've been part of the work so far, and you can be part of so much more in the coming year. So, let's build.