I imagined this would happen eventually, and it finally has, so in the interest of transparency, I am posting it publicly.
Someone wrote to me on tumblr about valid but misguided concerns of exploitation of my photography subjects. I am copy+pasting the exchange below, which is public on my tumblr, so that if anyone else has any concerns, they will be answered.
"ask: ok so I'm sorry but??? Marginalized and homeless queer youth are not a prop for which you get to exploit to launch your career sorry
me: I am a fat, disabled, agender, queer, neurodivergent individual who was homeless for 3 years, and the people I’m photographing are my friends and have ongoing consent and say in their photography and representation. They are participating because they believe there is something vital about sharing our stories (I am in the photographs as well), and they help inform the photography at every step along the way.
Also, I’ve been in the photography industry for 10 years, published a dozen times world-wide, with over 100 group shows, 2 solo exhibitions, with a respectable client list under my belt. So, my career doesn’t need to be “launched.” Freelancing is how I support myself, and I do it well enough that I have been able to house many of my transient friends with me until they get on their feet, which I continue to do. I have the honor of being able to say the friends that I have helped are all self-sufficient in some way, now, and they are the most important people in my life. They are my family.
If you want to attack people who photograph marginalized groups of which that photographer is a part of, maybe consider also attacking Jess T Dugen, John Arsenault, Phyllis Dooney, Jen Davis, or fuck… Maybe Nan Goldin, right?
Or maybe fuck off with that bullshit."
Admittedly, I get a little ripe about subjects like this. I already get too much shit from the able-bodied cishet world and invest too much emotional labor into defending my existence to exert any into educating my own community.
From the start four years ago, I have photographed myself, partners, and friends- all with radical, ongoing consent. So far, that hasn't changed. Although I contemplated photographing new individuals from my established community, I have decided against that in order to tell a more intimate and vulnerable narrative. Rapport with the subjects is also vitally important in order to sustain radical consent. I understand that some of my patrons and followers may not know that, since I discussed it in a patron-only post. I hope that clearing that up now helps eases some minds.
This is and has always been my story, as well as the story of my community. I have already shown this tumblr post to the people who participate in this body of work, and they have all approved of my response. If you have further concerns about exploitation, consent, or autonomy, I have no doubt that they will personally back up that they feel heard and seen, they provide input, and they are consenting to the work. If they did not, I promise you that I would be the first to know, and I would respond appropriately and quickly.
As always, I am open to questions (generally more-so than passive aggressive attacks), but I feel this particular topic has been covered.
Be excellent to each other.