“Out” – Our Voices

I’m in the home stretch for what will be my second multimedia show in New York City. This time the exhibition shows how 18 gay men and women, some prominently known, came out to their families and friends.

I want to use this opportunity to thank my friend Jason Frye and promoter Mark Nelson for their help and support to find models and for promoting the show. This project is as much theirs as it is mine. A big thank you also goes to the Imperial Court Of New York, to Emperor Vanity Society and Empress Pepperica Swirl who will be hosting the event.

I could not have asked for a better venue for the opening. The Stonewall Inn is where the gay riots broke out 1969 and where the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States started.

All images will be auctioned off that night and the proceeds will be donated to the Ali Forney Center to support homeless LGBT youth.

I spent a lot of time in the last couple of months photographing and interviewing these 18 individuals. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work on this project. I met such amazing people and was greeted with such openness to share their personal stories. I had a wonderful time and a big thank you from the bottom of my heart goes to everybody involved.

I’m in the process of shortening the interviews to five minuets what is very difficult since so many essential things were said. On Friday I gave an interview to Gotham magazine and was asked if there is one message I want to convey with this project what would it be?

My attention was to create a show about acceptance but shortly after I started working on “OUT” I realized that it was about much more then that. To me this project is not about sexual preference but about the question “who am I?”

Duane Michals being one of the people I photographed and interviewed had the following to say: “You have to be who you are. You are not your mother, you are not your father, you are not Jesus, you are not Andy Warhol, you are not Marilyn Monroe, you are you. This is the greatest adventure of your life, this trip. So enjoy every minuet of it, make mistakes, take risks, be true to yourself and you will be happy. But if you try to be somebody else, pretend to be somebody else you will always be a second hand person.

“Be yourself” is what I told the woman who interviewed me for Gotham magazine. Hiding from being true to oneself is of course much easier for straight people. Even today 43% of Americans call gay sex “morally wrong”. For gay people coming out is a huge step facing your family and society towards being yourself.

I often mentioned on this blog in the past that the truth will set you free but what people often forget to mention is how much it hurts to face the truth. In my conversations I’ve learned that many gay people break facing the hatred and cruelty they meet coming out.

The one’s that get through that process though have a strength and self awareness that is exceptional. They truly are who they are no matter what other people say.

I hope this project will inspire people to be true to themselves. May it help them to understand that being straight or gay is not a choice and that gay people really should be looked up to for their courage to be who they are despite social norms and expectations.
“Out” – our voices/Amanda Lapore/Manhattan/ In Amanda’s apartment 05-07-11 at 11:23 PM

Please check out my website at carstenfleck.com


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