“The era of the aids epedemic highlighted how segregated the gay community was from the rest of society. It was a wake up call that told gay and lesbian people they needed connections with the wider world, such as medical help, civic and political support…
With a new generation currently defining a new era for gay culture, what has it evolved into? The fear, grief and struggles of generations past remains with them – what are todays issues or are the same ones destined to repeat themselves?”
Post Photographic Portrait
For this post photographic portrait I have created a website, that groups together projects that explore the issues that are raised in my research. What I have realised from further researching into the topic of gay culture is that I have been struggling to come to a conclusion. So rather than force one, I thought a more appropriate outlet would be to host a series of projects on one site.
The website I have created (link below) is dedicated to exploring the key issues that arise out of this topic. The description on the ‘about’ page is the phonar pitch, which I see as a mission statement for the project. It will tie together the bodies of work that already exist on the website, as well as future ones to come.
The reason for creating a website, rather than another format is because I didn’t want to dictate the pace of the viewer experiencing the work. A video would have only allowed the viewing to happen for a certain length of time, where as I believe the work I produced would be more appropriately experienced at the viewers discretion. The work also needs some context given to it, so the about page and blurb pages before seeing the bodies of work give the information that is needed.
The two bodies of work found on the website are titled ‘The Village’ & ‘Raised Within The Majority’.
‘The Village’ explores the idea of the gay districts (sometimes refereed to as the ‘gay village’) acting as a retreat for the gay community from the wider society. The rural landscape is used as a metaphor for the isolation and separation gay districts can create.
‘Raised Within The Majority’ is a series of images I have constructed out of old images of mine, that were never intended for this purpose. It’s about how LGB people as a minority grow up within the homes of the straight families (the majority) and what effects this can have on identity.
I am pleased with the outcome of the work, I believe it communicates the issues raised within my research effectively. For the gif files in ‘The Village’ a website seems almost organic as platform to present the work, so the method in which I presented them definately enhances them.
Both these sources address the topic of educating people at a young age, in order to tackle homophobia and create more of an inclusive society.
By including LGB’s in children’s TV it would “familiarise audiences through incidental portrayal from an early age.” The article doesn’t mention anything about tackling stereotypes. Also how can the media make the audience aware of the sexual orientation of its characters without making the fact they are gay the main plot? Incidentally making a ‘drama’ out of that can make it appear abnormal.
A report carried by the BBC surveying 3 500 BBC Viewers says:
- half the population are comfortable with the portrayal of LGB’s on TV
- Approximately 15% aren’t comfortable
- The rest had no strong views
- 1 in 4 men believe theres to much gay representation
- LGB interviewees said that ‘the media play a critical role in educating wider society’
Phrases “you’re so gay” “thats so gay” are often used in schools as insults. School staff lack the support and confidence to tackle homophobic bullying and worry they don’t have time to challenge every instance of homophobic language. 9 out of 10 teachers in both primary & secondary school admit having had no training to tackle homophobic bullying.
“Regardless of the lack of deliberate intent, these terms liken gay to something that’s bad, wrong or inferior.”
“When homophobic behaviour and language go unchallenged a culture of homophobia is created and can impact on young peoples sense of belonging, self-esteem and attainment at school.”
“They guilded a cage of exclusion with magnificent ornaments; they spoke to its isolation and pain; they described and maintained it with dignity and considerable beauty” – Andrew Sullivan
This article “The End of Gay Culture” are the views of Andrew Sullivan on gay society in America.
In province town, gay couples marrying and celebrating in public were greeted by heterosexuals and homosexuals with waves and cheers “the difference between gay and straight receded again a little… these changes did not feel like a revolution. They felt merely like small, if critical, steps in an inexorable evolution toward the end of a distinctive gay culture.”
Sullivan talks about how the lines between a distinctive gay culture and straight culture are blurring. The gay culture that is today will eventually expand into diverse subcultures and that “gayness alone will cease to tell you very much about any individual.”
If the boundaries between gay and straight culture become so blurred it’ll become more helpful not to examine them separately at all. This isn’t saying that they wont create a community of some sorts tat sets them apart. – This both poses success and a threat:
- On one hand it fulfills a dream that gay people have always had, to live in a world where gay and straight aren’t distinguishable.
- On the other hand the threat is that it’s change. Being gay has been a simple way of defining a person both to others and themselves.
The era of the aids epidemic – This was a lesson to gay people that they needed connections with the wider world to survive, literally. They needed support from scientific research, civic & political support. They could no longer “seal themselves off from the rest of the society. A ghetto was no longer an option.”
Post epidemic led to gay people who survived to face both triumph and fear. They felt guilt and some re-treated into “the circuit”, which involved raves and drugs. Whilst this generation struggled with post plague adjustment a new younger generation grew up in a society where being gay wasn’t taboo.
“What separates homosexuals from every other minority group is that they are born and raised within the bosom of the majority” – This meant they were unaware of all the previous struggles of the gay community. Most come from homes “of straight America and were more in tune with it’s new, mellower attitude toward gayness than the embattled, defensive urban gay culture of the pre-aids era. The parents of this new generation can not pass on the cultural norms to their children. They instead absorb “what passes for their gay identity from the broader culture as a whole.”
Gay children in today’s world grow up knowing that gay marriage is legal in countries all over the world which leads to them internalising “a sense of normality”, which was completely unknown to previous generations.
“That shift in consciousness is as profound as it is irreversible.”
Gay culture was one about sex and pain and tragedy because this is what heterosexuals imposed on gay people. Now it’s like more about happiness as well as pain, triumph as well as tragedy. “It took generations to find the self worth to move toward achieving this reality in all it’s forms.”
I was asked by the Cheshire Academy of Performing Arts to make a promotional video. It had to show the variety of skills they teach, from singing to dancing and acting, keeping it energetic and fun to watch. The day of filming I went in with the intention to gather as much material of classes in progress as possible, so that when it came to editing I could chop between shots in order to keep the pace up and prevent a boring viewing experience. I gathered a few interviews with the teachers and some of the children to give the viewer information about the academy in an interesting way.
I was requested to use some current pop music in the video, which is why I used Katy Perry’s “Roar” and I think it does keep the video energetic and interesting to watch to some extent. Looking back on it I think some more natural sounds could have been used and it appears that I’ve used the music as a safety net. I worked with a bit of my own audio for the interviews and think I was successful with the editing of that, but if I had used more of my own sound recordings from the classrooms I could have created a more engaging video.
“Working in pairs if possible name yourselves “Eyes” and “Ears”. Ears is equipped with sound recording equipment (your phone will be more than adequate) and blindfolded. Eyes will lead Ears on a guided journey through a range of different environments. Ears will dictate the pace of the journey and say when they want to stop and make dedicated “sound-mark” recordings.”
For this task I chose to be the ears. I thought rather than experience the task in a way im already familiar with (photographically) I would take myself out of my comfort zone and record the audio. Although I have had some experience recording audio before its nothing I’ve ever considered much, it’s always been a secondary tool whilst recording movie image.
To begin with I found myself recording generic sounds of traffic and footsteps along a pavement, but soon realised that these sounds didn’t really tell the audience much about the location, as they could have been sounds from numerous locations. After realising this I began to seek out specific soundscapes that were more unique to the site we were on.
I must consider the use of audio in my future tasks, as I can see how useful it can be as a tool to create an immersive, more interesting narrative for a viewer to follow.
Title: “A Gif-t For You” By Lee Hassall
This is a piece about progression, about the potential of what we can do today with an image. But unfortunately this progression is restricted by the previously thought ideas and conventions of what a photograph is and can be.
I wanted to create something that was reminiscent of a photograph during the development process in the darkroom. There is a moment of ambiguity, when the details of the image begin to emerge from the paper floating in the developer. During this period we struggle to make sense of what we can see. I feel this is an appropriate analogy for todays current state, we are in a period of ambiguity, where technology gives us the potential to do so much and we’re desperately trying to grasp hold of some clarity.
This gif animation has been made up of 95 individual frames. As you can see from the animation I have split the portrait into sections, each section exists as a different layer within photoshop. I gradually increased and decreased the opacity of each frame individually to create this flickering in and out effect.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
For my phonar project I’m wanting to explore gay culture and I’ve been struggling to think of how to explore it photographically. So far I’ve been reading articles and trying to ground myself with a concept, so that I have a direction to take the project in. What I’ve been struggling with though is how do I get into this community of the ‘gay scene’, I want to explore gay culture through other peoples stories but don’t know how to start a dialog with these people.
The talk from Marcus Bleasdale addresses this problem I’ve been having and has started to make it a bit clearer. Bleasdales first bit of advice for this would be to understand the issue, to ground yourself with a concept and this will allow you to connect with what is happening. Then you start to engage, because its this engagement and passion that is vital in creating a significant body of work. But a body of work is something that may not happen on one visit, it takes persistence and for you to revisit the project time and time again, to cover previously missed opportunities.
Although I am still not clear as to how exactly to make the first steps in gaining access to this community, I feel I am on the right track in researching the project. It is becoming clearer to me that to create something significant then I’m going to have to carry this on after Phonar.
Bleasdale also talks about engaging a wider audience, not just people that will already be interested in the project but also people that may not have considered looking into the project. As photographic practitioners today we aren’t faced with the same challenges as the profession once faced, we don’t have to get an editor interested to consider publishing our work, we already have those tools available to us. We can self publish and take control of who our work reaches by utilising the various online platforms that exist.
For this task I really wanted to begin exploring a theme I am passionate about, something I can experiment with and carry on. That is why I have taken my time to research into an issue that means something to me, which is exploring the notion of ‘gay culture’. I am intrigued to understand what this term means, what fits into the category of ‘gay culture’ and is it just fulfilling expectations people have of the gay community, creating a segregation between homosexuality and the the rest of society.
Whilst exploring this idea I came across this article written for The Guardian by Paul Burton, titled “Gay Culture Doesn’t Begin and End With Grindr and The Scene”, which highlighted concerns I was having and raised new questions. It brings into questioning what passes for gay culture, using ‘Grindr’ (a gay cruising app) as an example of what may be considered to fit in this category. But it isn’t as simple as saying that belongs to this culture, people may make the association, but as Burton puts it “If Grindr really is an example of gay culture then is dogging an example of “straight culture”?”.
The article does refer to the ‘gay scene’, which I believe is referring to the gay districts in cities, such as Soho in London. What isn’t really questioned that is a concern for me is whether these ‘Scenes’ are helping the progression of the gay community being accepted and integrated into the wider community. My belief is that it hinders this integration, and that it creates a segregation.
To start experimenting for this phonar task I have explored the expectations of gay people, another key point that is raised in the article. Burton mentions that “Once, gay men were associated with the wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde. Now it’s the huff and puff of – well, take your pick.”. How I interpret this is that we gain our assumptions of gay people through famous gay icons that are delivered to us through the media, such as in TV and Magazines.
I have created a giff image (below) which explores what expectations may define gay people in todays society.