Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
It was in January 2014 that Sarah Deragon, a San Francisco-based freelance photographer, started taking photographs of people from the LFBT community in her area.  "I asked folks from my community to pose for the camera and submit their own personal identifier- their identity", Deragon told The News Minute over email.  Her project, called The Identity Project , "seeks to explore the labels we choose to identify with when defining our gender and sexuality" and explores the diversity within the LGBT community.  What Sarah thought would be a "small photo project", however turned into something much bigger and successful with people flooding her with requests to photograph them.  "The first photo from The Identity Project (one of me as a Queer Femme) was posted on Facebook and a call out for participants was put out into the world. What I thought would be a small photo project, only 50 portraits or so, grew exponentially when I received over 250 requests to be photographed within the first month of the project being launched," she said.  Sarah Deragon Deragon photographed people in the San Francisco Bay Area for half of 2014, after which she launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to travel. She said, "So far, I've traveled to New York, Chicago & Portland to photograph their LGBTQ communities. In 2015, I am planning on visiting Austin in May!" Every photograph in Deragon's project has a different and unique label.  "The labels are all words that the participants come up with themselves. They are words that define their sexuality and/or gender identity. I allowed all of my participants to come up with their own labels", she said.  "This photography project seeks to explore the labels we choose to identify with when defining our gender and sexuality." Those interested in being photographed are required to fill a form and Sarah decides who to photograph.  "I'm committed to reflect the beautiful diversity of our LGBTQ communities and am actively seeking participants who are POC, trans*, bisexual, youth, elders, disabled, immigrants and otherwise identify outside of the mainstream lesbian and gay culture," Sarah writes on her website.  The testimonials on Sarah's website are proof of not just how positively the project has been received by members of the community, but also of the dialogue it has managed to spark off.  "As a trans man who is engaged to a queer femme I often feel invisible to the queer community. Assumptions of being hetero and outside of the community has been a challenging issue for the two of us to navigate. Sarah Deragon's The Identity Project gave us the opportunity to present ourselves as exactly who we are a queer trans and a queer femme who are head over heels in love and very much a part of the queer community," writes James, a Transqueer.  All photographs by Sarah Deragon All photographs published with the permission of the photographer