I grew up less equal than my sisters and brother. I grew up less equal than my classmates and workmates and even many of my friends. I possibly grew up less equal than you.
Until last year I was considered a second-class citizen in my own country. In May last year, Ireland became the first country in the world to publicly allow same-sex couples the right to marry under the law of the Constitution. On 22nd May 2015, I became equal.
As well as celebrating the liberation and acceptance that the referendum has afforded the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, I feel it is also important to acknowledge the oppression experienced prior to the referendum and the resulting physical and emotional scars. This project depicts the stories of LGBT people: both positive and negative.
This project is ongoing. If you would like to tell me your story please email me or visit my Facebook page:
At the age of fifteen I told my mother I didn't care if I was with a boy or a girl, so long as I was with someone who loved me. My mother dismissed what I was saying and replied, "Of course you'll be with a man; Every pot has a lid".
To me being equal means being free to love whomever I choose.
I always felt like I was in the wrong body. I never felt like I fitted in. My parents and brothers didn’t support or recognise me for who I was. When I turned 18 I began to transition from female to male. For my 18th birthday my brothers finally wrote me a birthday card calling me by my chosen male name.
To me being equal means equal rights for everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender but I also don't believe that means that everything has an equal outcome.
When my first girlfriend told her mother that she liked women, her mother told her that she had shit in her soul. We were forced to break up. I felt small and helpless and wished I could have changed things for her.
To me being equal means not being afraid of showing who we really are.
Coming out in my teens, I found it difficult to meet like minded people. My phone became my link to a world that I could feel comfortable in. It allowed me to be in touch with people who understood what it meant to be gay.
To me being equal means being free to pursue my dreams.
I was on the train home and I texted my sister, "I’ve got something to tell you later''. She instantly thought that she had done something wrong. The next morning she arrived into my bedroom with scrambled eggs. When I said the words “Edel I’m gay”, we both cried.
To me being equal is being accepted by my friends and family.
I was one of the only girls in the boxing club. When I told the guys about my sexuality nobody said anything. They didn’t treat me any differently, they just accepted me for who I was. I gained so much confidence from their acceptance.
To me being equal means for each individual to have the same rights and same treatment in all circumstances.
Badges played a positive role for me. I always carried a shoulder bag covered in them. A lot of them were pride badges, despite the fact that I was a bit insecure and anxious about my sexuality. They acted as a way of me getting used to seeing myself as gay. I couldn't deny it while I wore them.
To me being equal means accepting who I am but not letting my sexuality define me.
When I was a child I never wanted to play with the girls toys. I never liked wearing dresses. It's strange, since I've come out, I've been more comfortable with embracing my femininity.
To me being equal means being who we are as a unique person who is a part of a puzzle.
My girlfriend and I were walking to a party one night holding hands. A man in a suit asked us for the time. I don't wear a watch so I said, "sorry, don't know". A bit further on he came up behind me and started violently beating me, shouting, "won't give me the time".
To me being equal is being able to walk hand in hand with my partner without fear.
What Lies Within
This series of images expresses a conflict of internal emotion and the struggle surrounding personal identity. The title and theme are inspired by a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”. Focusing on this theme, I intend to convey a sense of the self struggling with past and future and trying to reconcile both in order to understand the present.
Hands On focuses on memory and relationship and how the two combine to possess and consume us.
By focusing on my mother’s hands, I wanted to capture a sense of her ageing and how this impacts our relationship and the memories I cling to.