In January 2014, Sarah Deragon took a self portrait titled “Queer Femme.” It was the first photo for a project she calls The Identity Project, and she posted it on Facebook along with a call for participants for the photography project. She thought it would be a small project with only 50 or so portraits, but within a month she had over 250 requests from people wanting to be photographed.
Sarah started photographing people in the Bay Area, but then she launched a fundraising campaign to get the funds to travel and photograph even more people. She has traveled to New York, Chicago and Portland to photograph LGBTQ communities.
When Sarah chooses people to be photographed, she strives to honestly reflect the beautiful diversity of each city’s LGBTQ communities and is always actively seeking participants who are POC, trans, bisexual, youth, elders, disabled, immigrants and others who identify outside of the mainstream lesbian and gay culture.
When we asked Sarah about the project, she told us: “First of all, I have been really blown away by the generosity of the participants. Their love and support is what keeps me inspired. I also found that this personal project has truly informed and inspired my professional work. I’m a very inquisitive person and I always want to explore ideas, and my photos projects are a fun way to answer the questions I have about the world.”
Sarah hopes this project will evolve the language we use and the terms people are using now, and change identity labels in the future. The project allows every person photographed to self-label exactly as they see themselves, from Bad Ass Queer Femme Mama to Lesbian Androgynous Tomboy. The project is literally making all identities visible and allowing people to present themselves exactly as they are, celebrating their individuality and diversity.
We know we are feeling all the feels when looking at these photos, and we asked Sarah what she hopes people will take away from these amazing portraits. She told us, “I hope people are inspired by the project, ask questions about the terms and maybe even expand their understanding of what LGBTQ is. I imagine that this project will be something I work on for the rest of my life.”
Know any other photographers working on inspiring and thought-provoking projects? Clue us in in the comments below.
(Photos via Sarah Deragon)