I have a black t-shirt I wear regularly that has giant white print saying “WE ARE YOU”. I love this shirt, as much for what it says as for what it stands for. The shirt came as a result of sponsoring a person in Chicago who agreed to be photographed for the SELF EVIDENT TRUTHS project, one of the greatest causes I’ve come across in a long time.
The Self Evident Truths project is a photographic document of 10,000 people in the USA that identify as ANYTHING OTHER than 100% straight – as in, if you are anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum in ANY way, even 1% gay, we want to take your picture!
Created by artist iO Tillett Wright, the aim of the project is to humanize a vast community through the simplicity of their faces, showing that we come in all shapes, sizes, races, and social strata, thus making it harder for people to discriminate against us.
This project exists to spread awareness and understanding about a broader spectrum of human sexuality. We want to bring human stories from within the LGBTQ community to the world, so that we can begin to erase the boundaries between “Gay”, “Trans”, “Straight”, and “Other”.
For a deeper understanding of the philosophy behind the project, watch iO’s TED talk, “Fifty Shades Of Gay”:
What’s going to happen with all the photos?
We are going to create an installation with all 10,000 portraits on the lawn in front of The Washington Monument, likely in 2016 before the next presidential election.
There will be a large photo book, organized by people’s self-assigned percentage, showing the face of the full spectrum of human sexuality.
Once iO has shot 10,000 portraits, the project will become open source, allowing participants to submit their own photos and stories online, thus creating an ever-expanding database.
Images will be disseminated using various methods, in an effort to influence policy makers to vote in favor of equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
For the best explanation, we invite you to watch iO’s TED talk, but in a nutshell: In 2010, stunned by the Prop 8 debacle, iO started to ponder where the real disconnect was between gay Americans and those voting against them, and she decided it was an issue of fear. Unfamiliar with the realities of gay life, and bombarded with misinformation, conservative voters are misinformed about what it means to be gay, so she decided to introduce people to each-other. Hence, the portrait project was born.
What do you have now?
Instead of the percentage question, we now have three questions that we feel, when triangulated, and combined with the person’s age at the time of photographing, gives a more accurate representation of a human’s sexuality on THE DAY THEY ARE PHOTOGRAPHED. This is not meant to, in any way, define a person for life.
Each of the questions asks a person to place themselves somewhere between the following measurements, using units of 1-100. Those measurements are:
Masculine to Feminine
Attraction to Males or Females
Hyper Sexual to Non Sexual
How does the sponsorship work?
When you go to buy your shirt/shirts, you are prompted to enter the portrait numbers of the faces you’d like to sponsor. You get to sponsor ONE FACE PER SHIRT PURCHASED. You are offered your top five choices for sponsorship, for each shirt, and this is done by process of elimination. If your first choice is taken, we’ll move to your second, etc. If all five of your choices are taken, we will automatically assign you a face, but don’t worry, it’ll be a goodie. 😉