★★★ | Speaking Out
Speaking Out is a collection of photographic portraits of LBGT young people (aged 14-24 years old). 65+ young people, mostly from the USA are photographed. On each portrait young people have shared their thoughts, feelings or an experience. The young people have been honest in sharing their joys and tribulations of being an LGBT youth in a heterosexual world.
In Speaking Out photographer Rachelle Lee Smith took the portraits, handed young people a sharpie pen and left them to write what they wanted. Among other topics, young people wrote about: stereotypes, identity, homophobia, self-love and romantic love. Young people identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. It was great to see transgendered young people represented, however the vast majority of the young people identified as lesbian.
Years later, some young people reconsidered their portrait. They wrote about how their lives had changed and what they would write now. It was enjoyable to read these reflections from young people and the book would have benefited from having more of these. Several pages of the book felt wasted as they contained quotes that either praised the photographer or the book its self. Never was there any praise for the young people who were actually brave enough to share their stories.
Speaking Out is presented well, it’s a large book with 127 glossy pages in full colour. There is the odd page where a young person’s handwriting makes it difficult to read what they’ve written, but at no point is it unreadable.
Speaking Out is an enlightening book that shows how we are all the same, rather than how we are different. It should be available in every school, college, library and youth club.