A Photographic Celebration of Pride

At the beginning of June 2019, I decided that I badly wanted to create something to talk about Pride. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do yet. I have always been surrounded by an amazing cast of friends, most of which who identify with at least one LGBTQ+ identity. It takes a really special type of vulnerability, honesty, and passion to participate in a project that is so very personal. I want to take a moment to thank all my amazing friends and models who wanted to participate in this crazy project, even though it was literally in the last week of June. Thank you for sharing your truth, your story, and your identity with the world.

For this Pride Project (as we've been affectionately calling it), I wanted to find a way to display a persons strongest identity in a really beautiful way. I'm certainly no painter, but I just loved the idea of painting on a mask - painting on an identity. This project is no way meant to insinuate that any identity is permanent - or that there could only be just one. Paint can be washed off, repainted, washed off again. I desperately wanted to share this series as a way to celebrate Pride this June. Pride has become a movement that represents the love, passion, and hardships of LGBTQ+ people. Everyone who participated in this project was asked to share what Pride means to them personally, and I'm very excited to share this collection and the insightful thoughts all my friends had to share. Please enjoy :)

Kalina

"To me, having pride is about being comfortable enough with yourself to express your identity freely despite the judgement from others you may face in doing so. For a long time, I struggled with finding a label that fits my sexuality exactly, but the idea of a label had always seemed like boxing myself in, though it seemed to have been empowering to those around me. Today I identify under the umbrella term Queer. Though when I was younger I had a hard time coming to terms with being queer in a heteronormative society, I now feel pride regarding my sexuality. For me, pride month has always made me feel a real sense of community and acceptance. It’s really reassuring that I’m not the only person out there who’s struggled through the same things I have. Overall, it’s really just an empowering experience."

Drew

"To me, having Pride in your identity doesn’t mean that you define yourself by your identity, but your proud of that part of who you are. It’s saying “this is a part of who I am, and I am proud of the fact that it is.” I have pride in my bisexuality because it places me in a community that understands me and supports me in so many amazing ways. During Pride Month I reflect on my journey to being where I am today, and I get to think back on times where I wasn’t comfortable with my sexuality, and times where I was even outwardly homophobic as a way of denying who I was. An aspect of Pride Month that I feel is neglected is celebrating the journey we’ve all had to make, and how even though it was difficult and a lot of tears are shed it makes each and every one of us stronger in the best way possible."

Alicia

"Pride in my identity means being comfortable with my most authentic self. I’m proud to be a lesbian because so many people before me have fought for my right to be out and proud, to exist with inherent rights as any other citizen, and to embrace who I am unapologetically. While Pride month is unfortunately an opportunity for corporations to profit off the LGBT community, it’s also so validating to see rainbows everywhere and to encounter different people who share the commonality of being apart of LGBT community. Pride month to me is a symbol of belonging and celebration."

Julia (me!)

"I am so excited not just to share this project but also to be able to take part in it. I think having Pride is so important to everyone, and most especially LGBTQ+ individuals who have fought through so much hatred, misunderstanding, and confusion to be where they are today. I think something so amazing about Pride is the fact that you can be proud of whatever you identity as no matter how much it changes. I know personally I've had quite a few different identities over the span of a few years - it could change again, and that's okay. I love being able to feel pride in what I identify as today, and let go of the preconceived notions that you have to know your identity down to the letter, that it has to stay the same forever, that it's the most important thing about you. Pride shows me that I can be silently, powerfully, queer without constraint, however I'd like to be. It's amazing."

Sarah

"To me, to have pride is to be able to be yourself. Whether that be with everyone around you or to a small group of friends. I think it’s so important to be able to feel accepted and proud of your identity, no matter where you are in your life. I have gotten to a point that I’m comfortable talking about my sexuality; and people all over, people I don’t even know, telling their stories and experiences helped me get there. Pride month is so important for all LGBTQA+ people of all ages to know their identity and how they label (or not label) themselves is 100% okay!"

Abby

"This is my first time celebrating Pride month as a member of the community rather than as an ally. I think I’ve known in the back of my head for a while now that I wasn’t straight, but have only within the last year let go of my denial. It’s still a struggle sometimes to have pride in my identity. I haven’t found a label that feels quite right, and I think that’s caused some self-invalidation. If there’s no word for what I am, then how can I be proud of it? But I’m still trying. I’ve come out to all my close friends as “not straight,” and recently my mom as well. Their unbridled acceptance has made me feel more secure in my new-found identity. Hopefully when this month rolls around next year, I’ll be out and proud, but for now, I’ll find pride in the small victories and take each day as a new opportunity to embrace this part of myself."

-Julia Bruns

www.juliabrunsphotography.com

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