With an eye to increasing women’s and trans people’s visibility in the gay, lesbian, bi and trans community, Taryn Pimento, 25, and Margo Foster, 27, have harnessed the power of photography.
The Queer in Toronto project came about following a conversation Pimento and Foster had with a friend about their frustration at not seeing queer women in the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood.
Queer in Toronto aims to represent visually a diversity not always apparent in the city. It explores notions of community through shared personal stories.
“We wrote about the project as part of our graduate work at OISE/UT, but it took on a life of its own, so we decided to pursue it as an ongoing independent project after we both finished our master’s.”
Pimento and Foster began developing this project in January, and by October a total of 110 women and trans people from neighbourhoods across the GTA had participated. They were supported by the 519 Church Street Community Centre, which donated studio space for the women to photograph on weekends.
It seems that Queer in Toronto is striking a chord, landing space in the Gladstone Gallery at the Gladstone Hotel until Nov 24. For the duration of the show, there is a “Community Wall” — a place where anyone can write about what community means to them.
Marking, cutting and mounting all these portraits on foamcore was a lot of work, but it was well worth their time, since this is the first public viewing of the project. Pimento and Foster say they are humbled that the participants took time out of their lives to participate, and they cherish learning about so many interesting individuals.
Recently engaged after two years of dating, they say that “because the project has been self-funded, we have really had to make sure we are on the same page and to prioritize,” agreeing that they have learned a lot about each other through the collaboration.
Queer in Toronto has been life-altering for both — especially Pimento, who for a long time had been struggling with labelling her own sexuality.
“Meeting the many incredible individuals who participated in this project and hearing about how many of them came to identity helped me align myself with a queer identity.” She continues, “I have come to embrace this word [queer], which for me describes an inclusive and dynamic community of people from a myriad of gender identities and sexual orientations.”
This dynamic duo are now hoping to transform Queer in Toronto into print. The book would synthesize all the photos and interviews, and feature other queer female and trans contributors.
When asked what memories they will hold onto, they flip through a catalogue of those they have documented. “We will definitely remember the spontaneity of the process. Although we put a lot of thought into planning the project, the most memorable moments were unplanned.”
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