January 18, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: This is Queer Family

Queer representation is every-evolving, ever-progressing. Yet, it can still be frustrating trying to identify with mainstream media. We all want to belong, to find our tribe, to be a part of a Queer Family. What does that look like? Photographer Jordan Daniels attempts to tackle this unknown in his recent photography project, This is Queer Family. The Pride LA spoke with Jordan about the journey. Check it out: 

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Jordan Daniels, I am Queer and Black and Jewish and Fat. I say “And” because I want to hold space for all of my identities to exist on the same plane. I am a storyteller focusing on uplifting others to liberate themselves. 

In one sentence, what is the This is Queer Family project? 

It’s a project that explores what it means to Queer, how we create family, and what we think progress looks like in our community.

Where did the inspiration come from? 

I went to a conference a few months ago and john a. powell (stylized lower case) was speaking about creating “belonging” in his work and it really stuck with me. I’ve struggled a lot with experiencing belonging in my own communities; in the Black community, Jewish community, and Queer community. And I wanted to do a project that dissects the struggle a bit, and I wanted to do it in a visual way. Also, Pride Month had just started and it made me think a lot about the idea of belonging more in the Queer community, especially with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, where so many people – particularly people of color and Trans women of color – fought for us to belong publicly in society. 

I also have to say that my friend Jordan Verdin, who is also credited as a co-photographer, inspired me to do this. I originally asked him to shoot it and he said that I needed to do it as a Queer person. He really demonstrated Allyship. 

Photo by Jordan Daniels

How long have you been working on it for? 

From theory to praxis, a month. I circulated the idea in my head for a couple weeks, reached out to people at the end of that second week, scheduled the studio that third week and shot it last week as in July 3rd. It was definitely impulsive haha. 

How did you find folks to participate? 

powell says that belonging needs to be co-created, so I set out to co-create this project with some incredible Queer people that I happened to know, and it kind of took off from there. I started with my own circle of friends in Oceanside. In our small group, we’re actually majority Queer so I knew I wanted them to be a part of it. From there, I thought of some really strong, vocal and vibrant Queer people that I’ve met throughout the years and reached out to them. Luckily, most of them were available! I knew I wanted to keep this sort of small so I didn’t think of more than 12 people. It would have been harder to execute if we had more. Though, I deeply wish I was able to work with some Trans folk. Two people that I thought of were out of town so it didn’t work out, but I definitely am conscious that we’re missing that physical representation. Though I’m really happy that several people in the project gave verbal representation for our Trans siblings.

Photo by Jordan Daniels

What kind of people were you hoping to reach with this project? 

Everybody really. This project is for the Queer community, by the Queer community. And I say “is” because I want this work to continue beyond me. I want people to liberate themselves and share their own images, videos, stories, etc. I want everybody to talk about what Queer family and belonging looks and feels like to them.

What do you hope/ to achieve/what are you achieving with this project? 

My initial goal was to just create something with people that gives us all the space to discuss these topics in a really beautiful, vulnerable and personal way. My fantasy is that this becomes a movement of its own. Like I said, I want people to add to it with their own thoughts and stories and continue the conversation. I want us to co-create this movement, where we make our own visibility by saying “This is Queer Family!”

Photo by Jordan Daniels

Can you talk a little bit on the re-appropriation of the word “Queer” 

Liberation is the act of freeing someone from oppression. This can also mean ourselves. Queer, by definition, just means strange or peculiar, and peculiar can mean special, so inherently this word isn’t a negative word. It’s been used pejoratively for centuries unfortunately, as have many words that become oppressive, but the word only oppresses us as much as we let it. Maya Angelou said “words are things,” so why can’t we make them beautiful things? The word “Queer” sounds special, and it makes me feel special. So I wield this “thing” with love. 

On a more personal note, I’ve always felt weird saying I identify with the “gay community,” because it feels exclusive of the entire gender and sexuality spectrum. For me, Queer encompasses all of us. It represents all of us. It makes me feel safe because we’re not alone when we’re all Queer. We all belong to Queer. 

Can you talk a bit about how this project reflects progress in the queer community to you? 

I think the fact that everyone in the project can find comfort in the word “Queer,” reflects a lot of progress. Many people I know use the word Queer, which means that we’re deconstructing sub-communities for the advancement of the Queer community. Additionally, I dare to say this series reflects an actual picture of Queer people in society. A lot of media gives us only one sub-community, or one ethnicity, gender, etc., at a time, but I argue that this series acutely encompasses the broadness of the Queer community, and this is only with 10 people.That’s progress in of itself.

Photo by Jordan Daniels

For more information on This is Queer Family, CLICK HERE.

Related Posts

Gerrie Schipske Enters Long Beach Mayoral Race

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Gerrie Schipske announced on Thursday, December 30th that she would run for Mayor of Long Beach this year. The second-term...

Hollywood Star and Gay Icon Betty White Dies Aged 99

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Hollywood Star and gay icon Betty White died peacefully in her Brentwood home in West LA  on December 31st.  She...

Out Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Announces Run for the U.S. House

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Gay Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced that he would be running for an open seat for the U.S. House. ...

WeHo Urges Residents To Stay Alert Due To Recent Assaults

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

The City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood’s Sheriff’s Station is offering tips to encourage public safety in the community. ...

Fare Collection Will Resume In West Hollywood

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Fare collection will resume on Metro buses on January 10, following suspension of fares during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City...

WeHo Rings In New Year With Virtual Drug and Alcohol-Free Annual #BOOM! Event

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

The City of West Hollywood rung in the New Year with a virtual drug and alcohol-free annual #BOOM! Event.  This...

Attack in WeHo Leaves 5-Year Resident in Hospital

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

Matthew McGrath, a five-year resident of West Hollywood, spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries after he...

WeHo Offers Sandbags To Help Residents With Heavy Rain

December 14, 2021

December 14, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is offering free sand-filled sandbags to West Hollywood residents and businesses as heavy rains fall...

Gender Neutral Locker Rooms May Be Coming To Long Beach School District

December 14, 2021

December 14, 2021

Long Beach Unified School District has proposed gender neutral locker rooms for a $23 million aquatic center at Winston High...

Synergy Scholarship For LGBTQ+ Students

December 13, 2021

December 13, 2021

The Synergy scholarship for LGBTQ+ students is now open for submissions.  Created by California native GT Dave in June of...

LACMA Spotlights Queer Black Artists & Subjects

December 7, 2021

December 7, 2021

“The Obama Portraits Tour” and “Black American Portraits” exhibits at LACMA not only celebrate portraiture, but also queer Black artists...

‘Commitment To Life’ Documentary Exploring HIV Fight In Los Angeles

December 7, 2021

December 7, 2021

Production has begun on “Commitment to Life” a new documentary that explores the fight against HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles.  Directed...

Pride Poets’ Corner: Featuring Corey Saucier & the Dirge for 24 Hour Fitness

December 7, 2021

December 7, 2021

On November 30, 2020, the 24 Hour Fitness location in West Hollywood, which had been in the community for 25...

WeHo’s 31st Annual Toy & Food Drive

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station are partnering to help give back to those in...

Congregation Kol Ami To Host World AIDS Day 2021 Event

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

Progressive, Reform Congregation Kol Ami will mark World AIDS Day with a special interfaith observance, combining awareness, remembrance, and speaking...