Digital Documentary Photography
Identification is a crisis we should all be fortunate to experience
and conquer. Who am I? Who do I want to be? Sexual identity is complex,
sometimes oversimplified, and sometimes overcomplicated. Chantel Ligget
knows what she is. Chantel is queer. The term queer was once a derogatory
word used for homosexuals, but has made a revival in our generation.
Young people are taking the term back and claiming it as an identity.
The term is self-empowering and there are few people on Duke’s
campus who use it. Following
her through the months and the events she frequented, I not only learned
some of her life, but of those around her. Exploring the life of someone
other than heterosexual is a very different experience wherever you
go; location and demographic determine the amount of hostility or acceptance.
Duke University is a changing place with the help of strong, out individuals
Overall, I took over 1150 photographs in the completion of this project,
350 of which have Chantel as the primary subject, and I shot about eight
or nine times. The project was a bit overwhelming. Concentrating on
the life of Chantel helped me to have a focal point and to put a face
and a voice to many issues. I didn’t want this to be packed with
information on how to be an ally, or the hot topics for gay issues,
or how to get free condoms. I wanted this to be a project on a woman
who goes to Duke University, and how some things are different, or the
same, as a student if you identify as queer. I am pleased with the outcome
and being able to have explored many facets of Chantel’s life,
while leaving some things ambiguous. She is a well-known and respected
individual who hopes to become a professor in gender and sexuality studies,
and aspires above all else to be a mother. I hope that I have captured
a bit of her youth and a bit of her drive and a bit of her passion.
I think I’ve done that.