“Living in Limbo” brings LGBT issues to the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama

Living in Limbo: A contemporary photography exhibit that honors the complexities of lesbian family life by revealing authentic moments.

Unfortunately the movement for LGBT rights doesn’t shift at the same pace around the country. Certain regions make strides forward – passing gay rights and marriage equality legislation – while others seem to be moving slowly or even backwards. Carolyn Sherer’s exhibit of portraits is helping push the movement forward in the deep south. Legal change and cultural change work hand in hand and the collection of photos (and the existence of the exhibition itself) affect norms in the culture along with the framing of “Civil Rights.” In effect by expanding the perceptions around LGBT rights in the south it is affecting cultural change.

Looking at the images, they are an achievement in presenting the “everyday-ness” of these families. They hold each other as all who love each other do. Their kids mug for the camera. They are beautiful and imperfect. They allow us to admire what could be presented as exceptional and “other,” and see it as rather ordinary and lovely.

For example, today when I was in the exhibit with Carolyn Sherer an older woman approached us after figuring out Carolyn was the photographer. Among other things she said, “I can just feel me heart opening up.”

As stated in the video above, many imagine civil rights to encompass The Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. In fact it’s a center point for the multitude of battles for civil rights in the past, present, and future. The context of the exhibition – the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama – demonstrates through it’s presence that this too is a civil rights issue. Ironically, there have been complaints about the exhibition from those who simply aren’t ready to see portraits of lesbians, or believe that expanding our ideas of civil rights dilutes the history the movement in the 60’s surrounding African-Americans. But these fears are fighting the tide. Good art gives us new perspectives and challenges our old beliefs. In the battle for civil rights there’s room for everyone and by expanding the network, it becomes stronger.

More on the show at livinginlimbo.org

Carolyn is working on traveling the show, so if you can help her get in touch through her site.

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