From President Obama’s commendation of same-sex marriage to the demise of Prop 8 and DOMA, the issue of marriage equality has been thrust into mainstream society. The LGBTQ community alongside our allies has been engrossed in this fight for marriage equality. Macklemore’s “Same Love”, the spread of the HRC’s red equal sign all over the Internet, and the fights in every state to overturn same-sex marriage bans have been all over the news and across all social media. In the past year, six states have legalized same-sex marriage with current lawsuits filled against same-sex marriage bans all remaining states. We are witnessing history unfold but while we focus on the fight for marriage equality there are campaigns across the country advancing equality outside the world of politics that warrant our attention.
Enter iO Tillett Wright; an extraordinary individual and talented artist. Raised in the accepting environment of New York City, iO decided to undertake a project to advance equality in a new way. Self Evident Truths is a project that is collecting 10,000 photographic portraits of individuals that identify as anything other than 100% straight. iO’s goal is to show the humanity that exists within the vast spectrum of sexuality by displaying the faces of these individuals. Misunderstanding and unfamiliarity reigns supreme as we see a steady stream of acts of violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Self Evident Truths is working to remedy this disconnect between groups by tearing down preconceptions and inequality that manifests itself through our sexual preferences, ultimately destroying boundaries among these titles of “gay”, “lesbian”, “bisexual”, “trans”, and all the labels that exist throughout the rainbow. Identifying as one group is problematic especially given the fight for workplace equality.
In many states, you can be fired for identifying with the LGBTQ community but as this project is showing, more people fall on the spectrum of sexuality away from the extremes of 100% straight or 100% gay than thought before. We are seeing the depth and complexity of human sexuality as people are avoiding boxing themselves in a certain group. This project is introducing people to their LGBTQ brethren, fostering mutual understanding and educating while erasing the lines drawn around sexual preference.
The project’s slogan reads “We Are You” which fits the theme of inclusion and understanding. On their website (www.selfevidentproject.com), people can view the faces, look at the map of stops around the country and even support the project. With each “We Are You” t-shirt they sell, a face will be sponsored. Currently standing at a little over 7,000 portraits, iO will continue to travel across the United States until she has 10,000 portraits and their work is not complete until they have successfully funded all 10,000 faces. After this, the portraits will be printed and placed on the National Mall in Washington D.C., a worthy stage to display a screenshot of LGBTQ America today. “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal….” With the continuing fight for workplace equality and same-sex marriage with a constant cry for help during acts of violence against the LGBTQ community, it is evident that we are not upholding the foundations this nation was built on.
We spend our lives figuring out who we are and we pride ourselves on knowing that there is no one else in the world like us but when it comes to understanding others, we remain taciturn and closed off from new ideas. With this campaign, we are able to unite in the fact that we are all different; we are able to share the human experience from every spot along on the spectrum.
By: Peter Lyon