Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Struggle

--A photographic installment encapsulating power relations that exist within the dominant structure and how shaming effects attitudes and perceptions that may motivate violence. The results: being able to move within the system free from violence and achieve change through policy.

I'm very interested in photography, especially documentary-style photography.
In this post, you'll see a set of photographs in sequence to produce a new documentary-style picture essay. When viewed in order, the story will progress as such; an incident, an event and mindset, a need for a stance, the conforming of that need, and finally the progression leading towards change. I hope you enjoy it!

This photograph brings to life the feelings of constantly being ridiculed and stared at for looking, acting or feeling, different. The subjects continue on with their lives unbeknownst of the negative attention they are receiving. To me, this is a reminder that no matter one's personal outlook on life, or how you move within the system, there will be some that want nothing more than to bring you down. The dark colours worn by the man juxtapose the bright and vibrant colours worn by the two women hand-in-hand. This simple contrast was used to evoke feelings of hatred vs. hope. Depth and focus were used as well to convey two meanings; the sharp focus of the man was used to center the audience on his point of view, and the blurred subjects in the background represent the ‘out-of-focus’ mentality he has towards homosexuals. The view he has is unclear and therefore  his negative perceptions do not affect the two women.
This photograph in reminiscent of bullying. An epidemic that exists all over the world, and has prompted many to be vocal about the issue, including the “It gets Better” campaign. This photograph shows that bullying does not always have to be physical. It encompasses all forms of bullying that can exist including verbal abuse, both in person, on the Internet, or any variation of the two. Adding to the message of the previous photograph, we see the emergence of shaming as an institution within society. Overt shaming, such as passing comments, laughing and pointing are used to marginalize this young man who is clearly impacted by the negative attention, as seen in his sad expression. Depth and focus were again used in this photograph, but in a different way than the first photograph. To conceptualize overt shaming, both the young man and his bully’s are in focus. Both parties are in clear focus, which illustrates that they both understand the effects of what has just transpired.
This photograph is brought to life by the previous two, and is a represents the lack of support that queer societies have. This is a call for change. The dark tones and shallow depth of field are used to produce a feeling of emptiness and seclusion. This photograph also illustrates the apprehension felt by some queer people to stand up and have a voice for fear of the violent repercussions.
This photograph shows the devastating effects of bullying, which in my opinion is a form of violence as it can take a mental and physical toll on a person. The victim in this crime has been publicly humiliated and discriminated against due to sexual orientation. This builds a stronger case for the need for change. The framing of the photograph was meant to contrast this single indecent situated within a hallway of ‘normalcy’. The one vandalized locker in a hallway of untouched lockers, shows the blatant and extremely visible form of shaming that has taken place in a public setting, acts as ‘the last straw’ or an ultimate form of humiliation and shame.
This photograph emblematic of queer people negotiating space for themselves. Not only literally, as the sign is on a door, but the fact that the door is symbolic of an opening or the beginning of change for queer people. The York University logo at the bottom of the sign is an indicator of a power relation that exists between the marginalized group and the institution. The university’s logo in conjunction with the positive message, represents the support of the institution in challenging the very construct of shame for this marginalized group.
As the door opens, the members of TBLGAY are depicted in this photograph as representing their fight for equality and the oppressive structure in which they live. In preparation for  the war of positions, queer people are uniting and forming an institution of their own. This group has agency, political power and the ability to move within the dominant structure, united in fighting for equality and space. The negative affect of the crossed arms, and matched facial expressions of the members indicates that bullying, violence and shaming will not be tolerated.
The ability to for same-sex partners to marry shows the progression of queer communities in their fight for equality. It also opens the door for other civil rights associated with equality. My last photograph is one of two women united in marriage. This not to be confused as the overall goal of all queer communities. Marriage may be the final goal of a relationship for some, as it is for many heterosexual couples, but for others, monogamy is not necessarily important. This last photograph depicts freedom of choice. The choice of marriage is one victory for queer communities, but there are many more institutions that need to be broken down in order for true equality to prevail. Personally, I do not need the law or the public to validate my relationship. Marriage is one small part of a union between two people, and bonds can be just as strong without the label of marriage. Marriage, when recognized by the government, has rights and privileges pertaining to the two involved. Government saving plans, retirement funds and death benefits are all battles won due to equal marriage rights amongst homosexuals. These benefits can have real and significant impacts on those homosexual couples who are not recognized as a legitimate couple. For this reason, and other personal ones, marriage may be a goal for some queer people.

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