Gayface, the project of photographer Ashley Kolodner, documents queer faces all over the country accompanied by beautifully vibrant backgrounds, showcasing the diversity of the community, as well as the fact that we are all unique, no matter what our sexual identity is.
“Through visual representation as the project goes on, showing the diversity and showing that no one fits in a box is extremely important,” said Kolodner in an interview with 429Magazine.
“It’s another powerful way to break down stereotypes. I think education and exposure help in opening up dialog to speak about what is going on. It’s the first step toward empathy, which leads to compassion.”
Through raising visibility, Kolodner hopes that we will one day reach a peaceful coexistence, in recognition that no one fits the expectations of hetero-normative culture.
Her project shows compelling, interesting people, regardless of their orientation—a conscious effort on the part of Kolodner to show the pride and character of the individual outside of any stereotypes or expectations that the viewer may derive from their identity.
“I don’t believe that ‘queer’ has a specific look, and that is what I really want this project to show,” said Kolodner.
“It is about the individual standing up and being proud of who they are.”
The project, which started in 2011, is still ongoing. Initially, Kolodner reached out through her own social networks—friends, and friends of friends, for models. After a bit of publicity, people are now reaching out to her, wanting to be part of the project, and to be seen.
Each model is sent a questionnaire after the shoot where they have a chance to identify themselves however they wish—something not a lot of queer people get to do in a society that makes assumptions based on identity.
“They can choose to identify themselves as gay, bi, trans, etc etc, or no label at all,” said Kolodner.
“That in itself is something that queer people rarely get to do, because hetero-normative society wants to label them before they get a chance to share who they are at all.”
Kolodner is currently working on fundraising for her next project, traveling across the United States in order to photograph LGBTQ and their allies. Check out her work, and her future projects, at her website.
“I’m always looking for more humans who want to stand proud of who they are!”
“So many of us are 2nd class because of who we choose to love or how we identify. I find it ridiculous and sad, to be honest, and this is my way of contributing a strong, empowering visual to combat that.”