Letters To Ourselves is an intergenerational conversation centring the stories of LGBTQ+ folk in Scotland over the age of 50. From Shetland to the Borders and across the Central Belt, I contacted and travelled to people willing to give a face and place to the oft ignored older LGBTQ+ community. As a young queer person growing up, I felt I was missing a connection with the adults, the elders, the big sisters and brothers and siblings of my own community; so I sought them out now, to forge new chosen families and pay homage to the folk who have paved the way for making Scotland one of the best places to be LGBTQ+ in Europe (ILGA-Europe 2016).
Photographed on medium format film either in the participants' homes or immediate local area, the images ground the portraits firmly in Scotland. I wanted to strum a delicate balance between the undeniable resilience and beauty of my subjects, the way the landscape reflected these traits and my own subjective, deeply appreciative experience of our encounters. The photographs became more than visual representations of a certain group; they became labours of love. It is of utmost importance that documentary projects focusing on non-mainstream communities are approached from within these communities, as equals and collaborators. The artist may be a facilitator, but the final words are spoken by the ones represented. This is why, in addition to the traditional portraits, I also commissioned handwritten or typed letters written by each person photographed to accompany their images - these personal, unmodifiable documents act as the only source of information about the subjects themselves which is provided, giving people the freedom to choose exactly how much (or little) to reveal about themselves.
The project was commissioned by LGBT History Month Scotland, with funding from Creative Scotland.