LGBT folks' place in society has changed rapidly, and you can assess some of that progress at Here & Now: Queer Geographies in Contemporary Photography, an exhibit at Silver Eye Center.
The show of work by five photographers and two artist teams, curated by Seattle-based Rafael Soldi, maps the artists' "physical and emotional journeys to define and discover queerness across the American landscape." But in a culture where depictions of same-sex couples, for instance, are increasingly common, these days there's slightly less defining and discovering to be done. In other words, Chicago-based Richard Renaldi's Hotel Room Portraits — some 20 contemplative, casual images of him and his partner, Seth Boyd, in mostly anonymous accommodations from Missoula, Mont., to Vietnam and Bolivia — is nice, but it's (happily) not the assertion it would have been 10 years back.
Similarly, see the empathetic portraits and read the first-person accounts (some on the wall, some on a monitor) collected by Brooklyn's Laurel Golio and Diana Scholl for their We Are the Youth project. These 31 stories of coming out (or staying in), of parental support (or not) include more accounts of acceptance than you might have feared.
Yet Here & Now challenges us, too. Los Angeles-based Zackary Drucker's short experimental video, "Lost Lake," reminds us of the violence that stalks people who live outside gender norms. Other portraits in the show remind us just how widely such folks range, culturally and otherwise. Seattle-based Molly Landreth's compelling environmental portraits include both "Dusty and Judy, The Ozarks, MO" — the women's camo tees, shotgun, hard looks for the camera — and "Simon and West, Seattle, WA," half-naked, baby-faced boys snuggling in bed. And from Elle Perez's series The Outliers, about alternately gendered people, there's "Reilly," with her direct and guarded gaze, and "Reilly's Breast," a disembodied, nippled silicon lump.
Most challenging of all, in a way, might be selections from Seattle-based Adrien Leavitt and A. Slaven's #1 Must Have. The series is partly about "re-framing the queer experience outside of the victim paradigm often seen in popular culture." In informal images culled from the queer community itself, the subjects appear, variously, happy, confident, proud and silly. Here & Now, indeed.
The exhibit's concluding free, public program is Harrison Apple's Pittsburgh Queer History Project & Self-Documentation, at 7 p.m. Fri., July 18.