Jordan Daniels
Jordan Daniels
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“Queer: adjective: strange or odd.”

This word used to hold a lot of negative connotation in the past. To some people it still does. To some it’s obscene and to some it’s comforting. To me, it is home. It’s community. It’s family.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, one of the biggest moments in Queer History where everyone under the LGBTQ+ spectrum fought for our right to exist publicly and proudly as family. 50 years later and the fight continues, now more than ever, especially for the Trans community and our Trans Sisters of Color.

The rainbow has set on Pride month, but the quest for family and belonging is never-ending. With that in mind, I wanted to do a project that talks about how we create family & belonging, and what we think progress looks like for our community. I wanted to showcase people who exist so publicly and proudly every day, and to show what family can look like beyond the minimal, and sometimes stereotypical, representation we see in the media. This is our work.


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Brooke

It’s not a choice to be Queer, but it’s a choice to blend in. I used to blend in to feel safe, but I stopped that when I moved to a place where I was able to be my whole Queer self.

Queer family creates belonging because I can choose who I want to be in my family. I want to create belonging by surrounding with people that I don’t need to explain myself to, or break things down that are natural to Queer people. In my friend group, I’m able to share things that they understand, and I don’t have to explain those things to people that don’t actually want to listen.

The next stage of progress is not having to state what we are as Queer people, but rather just exist as family in an un-controlled state.”

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Nick

“Being Queer means being different and outside of the everyday norm. I think a lot about the intersection of my identities though being Queer and a Person of Color, because people interact with me differently. I’m not one or the other, i am both. Someone called me “whitewashed” recently after I told them my identity, and that sticks with me because it made me feel like I try to hide something that I am, when I don’t.

Progress for our community means all of us being on the same page on what having ‘rights’ means, whether it’s for marriage, healthcare, work, etc., and having that be consistent in every state.

I create family by creating moments with people that I enjoy being in company with. I experience belonging by finding comfort in a spaces with people that think about who you are, what you do, and how you think.”

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John

Growing up in the Philippines, you’re a joke if you’re gay. Moving here, I saw more opportunity to live my life the way I want to be seen. I had nobody to tell me that I could be myself, so I had to do a lot of work to get here.

Being Queer means being different and knowing that everyone is different. It means knowing that you have something to offer the world. My work helps people feel confident, that’s what I offer the world. Queer Family is about celebrating each others uniqueness.

There are times where I don’t feel belonging in the Queer community because I’m a feminine guy, but I have to remind myself that we’re in the same community. We can’t be treated badly because we’re feminine.

If I could tell my child self anything it would be, ‘This is all worth it,” and to listen to people’s stories.”

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Maddie

Being Queer is complicated. I feel like the baseline is neutrality, but I’ve always seen it as taking up space and being rooted in it.

The history of Stonewall has really laid the foundation of the happiness I can feel with myself, particularly living in a Queer area, and it makes me honor the people who build this foundation for me. Progress in our community looks like education with positive LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum in schools.

I feel that there’s a misconception that Queer family is all about a lot of people and we all get along easily, but one-on-one relationships can sometimes be more connective. Those special relationships helps me experience belonging because I’m empowered to be my best self, and experiment with who I am when I want to. “

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Chelsea

Unapologetically yourself. That’s what it means to be Queer. It means being true to your life, your love and your passion.

I experience belonging by having a very close circle of friends and my husband. When I’m around these people, I don’t ever doubt myself. My anxiety leaves questioning my thoughts, actions and emotions, and when I’m with them I don’t experience that. Belonging is when you don’t care about what you look like, what you wear or what you say when you’re with your people. I try to create belonging by holding space for people to be wholly themselves.

Progress looks like Trans Women, especially Trans Black women not being killed, Queer couples not facing barriers in adoption, Women-identifying folks having to access to a full-scope of health care, just to name some. We still have a lot to do.”

 

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Jordan

Being Queer means a lot of learning, which I think is a good thing. Learning about different identities, experiences and relationships, in a connected space even though we’re all different.

I’ve been coming into my identity for the past four years and I’m still diving into what our history means to me and how it affects me, but I’m learning. I want to learn everything about it, like how our movements were created and led by communities of color.

I prefer having chosen family because I’m able to choose people to be in my family that are nurturing, loving and accepting. It makes me feel like I belong. Creating work like this brings me happiness because it shows how we can take exclusion and make something of it together.”

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Markie

“To be Queer is to stand out. Not for attention, or to feel like an outsider, but to say ‘I’m here and I am expressing myself.’ Queer used to be such a negative word and derogatory. To say I am Queer now is to say ‘I feel like magic.

The history of Stonewall inspires me keep the legacy going with strength and courage, and bringing awareness to the problems still existing in the community, such as police brutality, because that didn’t end with Stonewall.

I want to be clear that Progress isn’t linear, but it means being more welcoming of other identities in our community and especially our Trans siblings. It looks like Black Trans women no longer being the outsiders or lowest in the community. Family means community. It means that we don’t all agree with each other, but we’re always there for each other. I create family by being present for people when I’m with them.”

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Adam

“For me, being Queer is about allowance. Allowance to feel all the emotions that humans feel; Grief, Love, Happiness and more. We see it through a different lens being Queer and we’re allowed to feel everything.

I’m inspired by the resistance aspect of Stonewall because we still experience issues that we have a right to be angry about. Whether it’s issues here at the border, #BlackLivesMatter, or other issues, it’s our right to be angry and to do something about it…I still catch myself presenting more masculine in certain spaces to feel safe, but I’m working on taking that drag off.

It’s hard to feel belonging because I feel that many of us try to become this “digestible homosexual,” like the Instagram gays, because that’s easier to navigate. And I get that. But I want full acceptance. I want to love every inch of me.”

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Jamie

Queerness means being able to be myself. To be able to express myself and explore identity, and feeling comfort in that process.

The impact of Stonewall has given me a lot of things that I don’t have to worry about today. I want to honor that by helping other people, particularly uplifting Queer youth.

I experience belonging through my own expression. The comfort I have with other people, and with myself. I want to create it by connecting with people, holding space for their feelings, misunderstandings and accomplishments. It makes me the happiest when I’m with people who feel the freedom to be their whole selves and express all of their weirdness.”

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Jordan

“To be Queer is to have choice. Choice in your family, choice in your livelihood and choice in your destiny. We exist outside the margins of society and there’s so much power in that. We get to choose how to wield that power, whether it’s too create change, policy, art, etc.

I’m inspired by Queer history and civil rights history because for some people, this is still their present, and I want to change that paradigm for them. I want to change it for all of us. Liberation for all people means liberation for all marginalized people.

I seek liberation because I want to create belonging. It’s hard for me to experience it living on the intersection of multiple identities - Queer, Black, Jewish and Fat - but nobody should experience displacement and marginalization just for being who they are. To be honest, this work is for kid Jordan who never felt like he belonged anywhere, and for everyone like him.”

Want to continue the conversation? Please feel free to share your own images, videos and stories using #ThisIsQueerFamily, and see how we all make up the community. Let’s start a movement and give ourselves FULL representation!


Thank You

to the support that made this possible

Jordan Verdin - Co-Photographer, Friend and Ally

Ricardo Lopez - Behind-the-Scenes Support, Friend and Ally

You Belong Here San Diego - Studio & Place of Belonging for Creatives, Allies

See some extra shots below!