Davidson recently welcomed artist and LGBTQ rights activist iO Tillett Wright, who spoke about her background, her activism and her art – including her ongoing photography project, Self Evident Truths, in which students were invited to take part.
For the project, Wright aims to take 10,000 portraits of people throughout the United States who identify as anything other than 100 percent straight. In doing so, she hopes to challenge perceptions of sexual identity and to increase awareness and sensitivity to the challenges members of the LGBTQ community face. She also intends to demonstrate the "nuanced spectrum" of sexuality, a topic she addressed in her 2012 TED Talk, "Fifty Shades of Gay." Her premise for the photography project is that "familiarity begets empathy," she said.
Natalie Williford '14, an environmental studies major and Hispanic studies minor, saw Wright's TED Talk and appreciated how accessible and "human" her message was. She worked to bring Wright to campus as a way of advancing that message and influencing the LGBTQ community before graduating, she said.
While at Davidson, Wright photographed about 60 students for her Self Evident Truths project. Theirs will be included in the 10,000 portraits Wright plans to take to the Washington Monument and display, demonstrating the breadth of the LGBTQ spectrum.
"It is time to show people our faces, so that they must acknowledge our variety, our humanity and our dignity," she said.