Pride Perspectives: Queer women and self love

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Pride month, if anything, is a liberating celebration of self-love. It’s recognizing fights had and won in the LGBTQ+ community, especially the struggles that have been overlooked, hidden, untold. For me, the depth of visibility that is realized during Pride is monumental in understanding Pride itself.

This month I seriously began working on a new project called “I C Women,” in which I took portraits of local queer and gay women in Iowa City, most of whom are friends of mine, to make a portfolio dedicated to visibility and visual self-love for queer women. But it’s so much more than being seen in a photograph or having a picture taken, it’s about understanding a woman’s struggles in developing her sexuality, gender identity; her relationship with herself as a queer person, and all of the influences, negative and positive, that have impacted her self-image and her identity as someone queer.

I believe that to be proud of who you are, you of course have to know yourself, and you have to acknowledge and accept your struggles, the wrongs done against you, and endurance to reflect itself. Queer women have not always been proud to be queer; so many have been made to believe that gayness is sin, it’s shame and shadow and something to hide away and repress. “I C Women” is my way, our way, of responding to that universal, personal experience of not always having pride, but also having pain and self-doubt. “I C Women” captures the beauty of queer women for their individuality, their own narratives, their own movements towards self-love, and I believe that’s what being visible means during Pride.

Visibility is so complex and individual, and it’s also very beautiful and very healing, and I believe that those experiences of beauty, pain, a kind of talking back to a very heterosexual, male world through a photograph or through any form of art or dialogue is something to be proud of.

— Becca Bright

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