A few weeks ago, I came across some images via Facebook from Kathy McLean’s photo series, “You Are Not Alone.” The project’s mission is to raise awareness of “the need for the women in our community to see that no one is alone, regardless of their sexual orientation, race religion, education, socio-economic status or past.” In the process of fulfilling the project’s mission, McLean captured not only the diversity of the community at large, but also within the dapperQ community. McClean shared with us a small sample of images from her project, as well as a few words about her inspiration:
In May of 2010, I [Kathy] began working on a photography project where I was trying to expose the diversity within the lesbian, bisexual and queer community. In October of 2010, the LGBTQ community experienced a rush of teenage suicides. At that point, the project was gaining momentum, but I felt it was missing a key element: a greater purpose. The project was moving in the direction of something bigger and more important than me or any one individual involved, but I did not know what it was.
In January of 2011, a close friend committed suicide. While I was at her memorial service listening to her girlfriend speak, I realized what the purpose of this project was, the name it would become, and the direction it needed to go. My friend committed suicide because she felt alone. The teenagers committed suicide before her because they felt like they were alone. My purpose for this project is to show, through the great and beautiful diversity within the LGBTQ community, that no one is alone. Because we are so diverse, there is a place for everyone in our community. From that point forward, the project title became “You Are Not Alone.”
In 2011 I had eight gallery showings. Four showings were solo “You Are Not Alone” shows (one gallery was at Saint Joseph’s University, the first Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer art exhibit the University has had) and four were shows that I displayed images from the project. So far this year, I have participated in three gallery shows: William Way Community Center, the University of Pennsylvania, and Phreak N’ Queer Festival.
I am not able to pay models for their time. The reason for this is because I do not make any money on this project. If an image sells, I turn around and donate the money to either the William Way Center or the Attic Youth Center. This project is not about money for me or anyone involved; it is about reaching out and trying to help make a difference to people in our community.