Images Against Homophobia:
A Global IDAHO Initiative
~ From the GayRussia website
Opening of the exhibition at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 10 May 2011. Photo European Parliament. In September, 2009 Chad Meacham, an American born photographer, embarks with his girlfriend Sarah Baxter on a photography project. Their idea is clear: “Walk With Pride” will celebrate the freedom of expression of LGBT people around the world.
For a year, the couple travelled to 15 different countries to follow the organizers of Gay Pride marches in Europe and Asia. Meacham’s previous work has won over 20 international awards including the National Geographic Traveller.
The result is an impressive collection of photographs expressing the difficulties of LGBT people to exercise their right to freedom of expression.
With the exception of London and Sydney, the couple ignored the bigger more famous prides in New York, Berlin, and Madrid to put a focus on small scale events which are often not welcomed in the countries they are held.
In Minsk, Meacham said it was a total shock when he witnessed a police crackdown on the local activists who were trying to stage their event despite the bans they receive from the city hall.
“I understood and was inspired by the courage of these people who are risking their lives to defend their freedom of expression. It was the events and activists in Minsk that showed me the true meaning of the Pride Movement, and showed me the direction the project needed to go.”
The couple was later in Moscow and Warsaw where he also captured images of anti-gay protesters. In Turkey, they attended Istanbul’s first Transgender Pride the first of its kind in a country where Transgender people are often murdered.
Baxter stated that the life of Harvey Milk served as a source inspiration for the conception of the Walk With Pride Project but not only. “This project was sparked after months of following the debates in America on gay rights issues, and our frustration with our government’s policies” says Sarah.
During their trip, Meacham and Baxter worked closely with LGBT activists and Pride organizers. Their help was more than appreciated and this is how the idea of the exhibition “Images Against Homophobia” was born.
“Chad and Sarah have been so helpful to us that we believed their work must be shown on a broad scale. We offered them to use our contacts to organize this exhibition around the world” says Nikolai Alekseev, Moscow Pride Chief Organizer.
Naturally, the exhibition takes place around the International Day Against Homophobia.
“It was only logical to organize this tour around the Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and have IDAHO as a co-sponsor of the event” says Alekseev who also serves on the board of the IDAHO organization.
“We hope that by viewing these photographs, people will realize what problems homophobia and transphobia creates” says Meacham.
The exhibition kicked off officially in Strasbourg at the European Parliament yesterday and the President of the Parliament gave a speech at the opening. It will also finish in Strasbourg at the end of June at the Council of Europe. Apart from Strasbourg the exhibition will be shown in the coming days in 20 different locations around the world: Berlin, Postdam, Liege, Zagreb, Sofia, Manila, Sebastopol (California), San Francisco, Sydney, Bucharest, Brussels, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Yilan and Taipei, Phnom Penh, Skopje, Minsk and Moscow.
In Sofia, the exhibition will be displayed in front of the Parliament building. In Cambodia, the exhibition will travel across the country, and in Minsk, it will be shown on a LCD screen.
Don Spradlin, President of the Noble Beast Foundation, is organizing the exhibition in California, “The reason why I wanted to take part in this initiative is because we have direct experience as producer of the International Mr. Gay Competition of a range of insults due to homophobia around the world. Men who participated in our annual event have lost their jobs because they were willing to represent their nation. They have been kicked out of school, been hounded by the press and denied visas just because they are gay ”
“There’s a lot of solidarity behind this initiative. Everyone contributed how they could. Our main goal is to help raise awareness for the global LGBT community, and help put an end to homophobia and transphobia” concludes Meacham.
The exhibition can be seen online at GayRussia.Ru HERE