Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Photo exhibition shows ‘the many faces of LGBT Myanmar’

Portraits by Italian photographer Chiara Luxardo. Thet Htoo/The Myanmar TimesPortraits by Italian photographer Chiara Luxardo. Thet Htoo/The Myanmar Times

The most powerful part of the new &PROUD photo exhibition is just how well it celebrates simple, everyday moments.

In an atmosphere of ongoing discrimination and politicisation around the LGBT community in Myanmar, these moments are too often lost.

The exhibit – showing at Myanm/art Gallery until May 23 – features a range of photographers from the established to the (very) amateur.

One wall is taken up entirely with a photo series by Italian photographer Chiara Luxardo of same sex couples – deftly capturing subtle intimacies in locations throughout Yangon.

On another wall are some of the entries in the &PROUD selfie competition. Each one – whether playful or portraiture – resonates. There’s held hands, smiles and defiance aplenty.

“This is a way of recording our lives and telling our stories. [It’s] a snapshot of the diversity of LGBT life in Myanmar,” the board of &PROUD told Weekend in a statement.

The board said the selfie contest in particular was a way to show “the many faces of LGBT Myanmar”.

Another series by Chiara Luxardo about transgender people.Another series by Chiara Luxardo about transgender people.

“[Our group is dedicated] to making the community more visible in Myanmar society.”

The exhibition coincided with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17.

Materials for the international day noted that at least 81 countries – including Myanmar – criminalise same sex relationships, meaning that “millions of LGBT people live in a constant state of fear”.

However, co-director of &PROUD and progam director for Colors Rainbow LGBT Network Ko Hla Myat Tun told Weekend there were hopeful signs from the new government.

“We are positive based on our meetings with government representatives and parliamentarians. We trust that they respect human rights” he said.

But in the meantime, exhibitions like this represent a small but meaningful step in the long road to acceptance.

Myanm/art Gallery is at 98 Bogalay Zay St, Botahtaung Township.