My project is called Silenced.: a book about LGBTQ+ youth and their stories. Along with the book, I’m creating a documentary about what makes them smile.
Given that the past month has been Pride month, a light has been shone specifically on LGBTQ individuals. Being gay myself, I feel that although pride is a great celebration, we need attention throughout the year. One challenge is learning from others, especially those at the forefront of these issues. My book aims to tell the stories of those who have been silenced whether that has been from peers, family, or society.
In the past weeks, I have met over 45 LGBTQ+ kids between the ages of 11-20. I have been moved by their incredible stories and frankly, with the range of ages and ethnicities, I have seen the many perspectives of the queer individual. Intersectionality is a very big part of any community and especially communities that are continually oppressed. I am so excited to produce this book with the people I love (LGBTQ kids) and my passion (photography).
I’ve also done some advertising on Instagram with a photoshoot of myself and partnered with plenty of organizations and social medial influencers. I plan to take pictures of all 45 people in the next weeks and put the book together!
Hopefully I can feature the book at school and on social media but in the meantime, thank you so much to the CSGC and the Cost family who funded me for this amazing journey. I have never experienced anything like it and understanding what people yearn for is so important to me.
Please look out for a clip of the documentary from me in the coming weeks with illustrations by Chamari Williams ‘24!
-Ella Mbanefo ’22