Family & Relationships Gay Lesbian & Bisexual & Transgender

Photographer Joan Brown Features "Isolated" LGBT Youth in New Project

Many young people out there are ignored, neglected, threatened or even abandoned by their families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In a constantly evolving society, or so we care to think, it is still sad to find these stories on the streets of contemporary America. 

These youngsters go to the cities in search of acceptance, becoming, in some cases, homeless and gathering in small communities.

It was in an LGBT community in New York that photographer Joan Brown found young people at risk of social exclusion - and the subject of her most recent project, New Alternatives.

Joan Lobis Brown is a photographer based in New York City who's work has been widely shown in group and solo exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Africa. New Alternatives is a series of photographs of these teenagers mentioned above. The series is intentionally an open prject, as the photoshoot will continue, adding more images as they come along. "They survive on the streets by themselves and form communities, some with defined roles. These communities exist in parallel universes that remain hidden and inaccessible to the public," Brown explains. 

Their excitment is portraited by the pictures themselves."They liked to pose for the camera and show the world who they are as individuals," she said. The photographer enphasized the fact that their appearence is often a key factor in their exclusion, and therefore plays a very important part in their lives and Brown's project.

"They liked to pose with their adoptive families and with their best friends," Brown writes.

Her vision is nonetheless far wider: "Communities that are isolated can be discriminated against, shunned, ridiculed and ostracized, usually the result of fear and ignorance. Conversely, people can isolate themselves, often as the result of shame – the pain caused by feeling worthless because of circumstances or conduct." 

While New Alternatives explores community and the indvidual, it takes part in a major concept defined by the word 'Isolated'. It does not limit itself to the physical and emotional level, but moves into the geographically and environmental as well. For instance, the visual studies of isolated locations within landscapes of Antarctica and the Arctic illustrate how the regions have been affected by global warming, and the politically and geographically isolated nation of Cuba are two of Brown's most celebrated works.

When visiting her website one can quickly understand Brown's point of view towards this subject. Her portraits are vivid and unique but with a sense of personality that highlight each person in their character. The Arctic and The Antarctic pieces are focused on remoteness and aloneness in contrast to the wildlife which seems to become more and more sparce. 

Meanwhile, Brown finds inspiration to continue the New Alternatives project with the words that her teenage subjects spoke to her: "Many of these kids told me they had never realized how beautiful they are until they saw the photos."

See the models and read more about Joan Brown and the New Alternatives project.

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