Claimed Pastures Is a photographic series i'm currently working on, which seeks to document and explore the complex and diverse queer identities that exist outside of major metropolitan areas. Claimed pastures sets out to tell stories of LGBTQ people underrepresented in mainstream culture and arts, broaden our understanding of where Queer people exist & flourish, and explore how our cultural & natural worlds affect our identity work/expressions of Queerness. 

This project stems from a desire to look at the ways in which LGBTQ culture and identity play out in different areas and what barriers exist that prevent some folks from entering/living in the urban areas that we know as Queer hubs.

This project is not restricted to any population size (or lack there of). Rather, it defines rural as any space that holds stigma as being uncultured, uneducated, or unrecognized. It will focus on areas that may lack visibility, resources, or recognition as a space for Queer people to inhabit. And it will highlight how these spaces uniquely affect people's identity work, how they express their queerness, and how they interact with, deviant from, or rely on their communities. 

This project will also seek to take an intersectional approach & will reach out to a large range of individuals who may also face challenges based on race, class, ability, etc. 

On the Road

I am heading out on the road in early June of 2017, for 1-2 months, traveling through the Northwest and beyond. During this time I will be exploring new communities and their environments, meeting numerous individuals to interview & photograph, and documenting my journey. I will be traveling in my trusty old truck packed with blankets, poetry, and photo equipment. I'll be staying with friends (or friends of friends) whenever possible, and spending nights in the back of the truck when need be. 

Challenges Ahead

As with any photo project, there will be challenges along the way. 

Meeting People to Photograph: Meeting LGBTQ folks in rural areas — at first glance — seems like an almost impossible task. But in the months prior to this trip, I will be connecting with as many people as possible to get in touch with friends of friends, family members, etc, to create as many leads as I can. There is a large issue of trust and vulnerability involved here, and not everyone I meet will want to be photographed or even be a part of this project.  and although not everyone I meet will want to be photographed, I will still plan on meeting everyone I can to at least hear their story. 

Film Logistics & Production: Shipping. Printing. Scanning. Etc. While I'm on the road, I will be working with a photo-lab in Idaho that I have a long-standing relationship with. Thanks to your donations, I will be able to safely ship the film to them to avoid any potentially destructive happening to them. Once there, they will handle the initial processing, scanning, and archiving of the film - allowing me not only to collect stable, developed film at the end of the trip, but also view scanned copies of my work while on the road.

Disclaimer & Last Thoughts

Although I consider myself a member of the queer & trans community with rural routes — I am also white, male born, and fairly middle class. I recognize that many of the people and communities I may document are ones I am not a part of. I want to make sure to do this project in the most respectful and least problematic way possible, and give care & solidarity to people who's intersectional identities make them vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation, and even physical danger.  This project is not about me, it is about the people in it. So please, if anyone has any insight or concern about this project, do not hesitate to contact me. I am always learning & unlearning, and we are all in this together. 

Support

If you would like to be a part of this project or help support it, please feel free to email us at sanders.taylr@gmail.com or visit our indiegogo page. You can also follow the progress through Instagram, Tumblr, or by finding me on Facebook. 

This project is partly funded by a generous grant from Artist Trust.