2015 Rainbow Award Winner; Best Bisexual, Transgender & LGBT Debut
A photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages 14–24, identifying as queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning), Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus presents portraits 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 65 portraits photographed over a period of 10 years, the book provides rare insight into the passions, confusions, prejudices, joys, and sorrows felt by queer youth and 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.
About the Author
Rachelle Lee Smith is an award-winning, nationally and internationally shown and published photographer. Her work in Speaking OUT combines her passions for activism and photography to tell the stories of, and provide a rare insight into, the lives of queer youth. She lives in Philadelphia. Candace Gingrich is an LGBT rights activist with the Human Rights Campaign. Her involvement in the movement for queer equality began when her brother, Representative Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, was elected House speaker. She lives in Hyattsville, Maryland. Graeme Taylor skyrocketed to international attention when he confronted a school board for not defending gay rights in its schools. He became one of the youngest and most widely known openly gay teens in America. He was interviewed on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co. and the Ellen Degeneres Show and is now the subject of a short film, Shrug. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“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.” —Advocate
"Speaking OUT gives voices to queer youth, one snapshot at a time." —Marcie Bianco, mic.com
"This presentation simultaneously highlights the individuality of the subjects and proves to those who may be isolated by geography or culture that they are not alone. An important work for queer youth and those who support them as the future they represent." —Kirkus Reviews
"Even when the subjects speak to prejudice or violence, the entirety of the work maintains a celebratory tone, right in line with the It Gets Better campaign and the Free to Be... You and Me movement." —Publishers Weekly
"Even while attention to queer and trans youth has grown recently through campaigns like It Gets Better . . . there remain few cultural spaces created both by and for LGBT youth. That's where LGBT activist and award-winning photographer Rachelle Lee Smith's Speaking Out steps in." —Mitch Kellaway, Advocate
"Overall, this is a stunning and unique addition to the existing literature, with an immediately relevant approach." —Kyle Lukoff, School Library Journal
"In their wonderful variety, the more than five dozen color images are proof positive that being queer is an exercise in heterogeneity, not homogeneity." —Booklist
"Speaking OUT, a photo essay that pairs photographic portraits with handwritten reflections from youth who identify as queer, offers a glimpse of the wide range of experiences that comprise life for queer youth today." —Tikkun magazine
"Realistic depictions of queer youth are missing from the media. Photographer Rachelle Lee Smith is working to change that." —JJ Vincent, goodmenproject.com