Hey, when was the last time someone told your story? (Tegan and Sara don’t count.) No, really, think about the last time someone tried to preserve, in a historical context, the countless and varied experiences of any queer population. Ok and when was the last time you thought about how transgender youth are the fastest growing homeless population in New York City? Because I feel like this is important and worth talking about, and I bet you do, too.
Josh Lehrer began Becoming Visible, a photography project based in portraiture, to tell those stories. Since he says it better, the project’s mission statement kind of sounds a little like this:
Bring faces out from the shadows by placing them front and center in my portraits. Many homeless transgender teens have been traumatized by the loss of their families, their homes and often, their dignity. I will use lovingly produced photographs as a way to help heal some of the pain caused by all of that loss and create images that reveal their humanity. A humanity that we can share and connect to.
To describe the photographs as anything but “loving” would be a disservice to Lehrer’s goals and passion. The NY Times spotlighted his work in 2009, when the project began, and I quote:
Josh Lehrer, 45, has been chronicling a minority that is still about as invisible as they come: homeless, transgender teenagers. He has been laboriously bringing their lives to light in a project he calls “Becoming Visible,” a series of 80 16-by-20-inch cyanotype portraits, each one of a kind.
Mr. Lehrer, a commercial photographer based in Manhattan, said he began last fall to look for ways to harness his visual imagination and technical skills to some social purpose. “I wanted to be of more value,” he said in an interview this week. “I wanted to be of service in some way.” When he learned from city officials that the fastest growing segment of homeless youth were transgender teenagers, he knew he had a subject.
In order to produce a new installment of Becoming Visible and expand the project, Lehrer recently launched a fundraising campaign. The Becoming Visible Kickstarter page is running for another 18 days. That means you hardly have time to pledge away as much as possible! To make it even more fun for you, the rewards for giving are awesome: stamps featuring the photos, handwritten poems, etc. It’s a dream come true for everyone! Really! Double, triple, maybe even QUADRUPLE YAY! And even if you can’t give, telling friends and spreading the word would guarantee a success for Lehrer and his truly unique project.
So yeah, that’s what I thought. I know you’re sold. Go tell your friends and go open your hearts, and maybe your wallets (pretty please? – and I don’t usually ask for things you know), to this project. Go forth and make change. You get to be a part of a really big picture now.