Beautiful Photographs Explore The Self-Assigned Gender Labels And Sexuality

What defines you?

In two words, how would you describe yourself?

San Francisco-based photographer Sarah Deragon has set out to question the labels society gives us. Deragon's ongoing photo series Identity Project explores what labels do to members of the LGBT community.

Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project

The project started in January 2014 when Sarah posted a picture of herself on Facebook. The image (below) was taken by her partner and sparked some social controversy that encouraged Deragon to start the project and explore the labels people use when talking about their sexuality and gender.

Sarah started an Indiegogo campaign back in April. Since then, she has been traveling around the U.S. and photographing members of other queer communities. Her latest photographs are from Portland, Oregon.

Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project

According to Sarah, the response from LGBTQ people was very positive and the straight community was not a bit less interested and excited about the project.

"I think the project is really inspirational to the straight community because the participants are standing up, defining themselves and asking the world to see them for who they really are and it's powerful! I think everyone should get the opportunity to do something like that," Sarah told A+.

Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project

The early pictures from the Identity Project feature Sarah's close friends, but once the initiative gone social, more people started sharing and, according to the photographer, it just blew up.

Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project

According to her, every model had a personal reason to participate. But the overall atmosphere was soaked with excitement of being able to change the conversation about what the LGBTQ community looks today.

"It is a really powerful experience to be photographed and have that image be immediately on the world stage. I know these photos inspired people in countries like Russia (and all around the globe) where being out and proud isn't even a possibility," Sarah told A+.

Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project

Apart from learning the new vocabulary to define what queer means, Sarah says it was very interesting to reflect on her own journey. When she came out, she called herself a lesbian, then moved to queen, then femme, glitter femme and, eventually, she's a queer femme.

However, Sarah feels these labels will change again in the next ten years. "This project reminds us that we're always growing and changing. Finding words that resonate with who we are or what we're attracted to is powerful," Deragon told The Bold Italic.

Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project Sarah Deragon/The Identity Project

Ever since her journey started, Sarah says she's received invitations from the UK and New Zealand asking her to come and document the various LGBTQ communities around the world.

Find out more about Sarah on her photography website Portraits to the People or follow the Identity Project on Facebook and Instagram.

Liked this article? Click the share buttons below!