Photo Essay: Speaking OUT Brings Queer Youth Experience Into Focus

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus


“Straight? No. Gay? No. Those words don’t feel right. They aren’t Me. B:? Closer, but still not me. Queer . . . . . . . YES! I’m Queer! That’s Me!”

So writes one of the subjects in Speaking Out: Queer Youth In Focus, a photographic collection featuring snapshots of more than 65 young people, ages 14 to 24, identifying as queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning). The photos, set against an objective white background, only tell part of the story, though; in the handwritten musings of the subjects, the picture becomes clearer, bringing the experience of these youth—as the title suggests—into sharp and illuminating focus.

The book, released earlier this month, was produced by award-winning photographer Rachelle Lee Smith, with a foreword by Candace Gingrich, an LGBTQ activist and the brother of Newt, and an afterword by Graeme Taylor, who a 14, famously challenged his school board for not defending gay rights.

Its photos have been appeared in Advocate and Out, and been spotlighted by the Human Rights Campaign, NPR and the U.S. Department of Education. Seven of the photos, provided courtesy of PM Press, appear below. Like what you see? Buy the book here.

Back to Rachelle Lee Smith’s Author Page