Meet the Photographer of Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus

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April 23, 2015

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus Photographer Bay Area Exhibit and Speaking Tour June 24-29

After vandals attacked this award-winning photo exhibit showcasing queer youth in Connecticut earlier this year, creator Rachelle Lee Smith and San Mateo publisher Reach And Teach are looking forward to a supportive and enthusiastic reception in the Bay Area. 


The creator of the award-winning photo essay book, Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus will tour the Bay Area June 24th-29th and participate in PRIDE weekend.

The book was published in Winter 2014 by San Mateo publisher Reach And Teach, an imprint of Oakland publisher PM Press.

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus is a photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages fourteen to twenty-four, identifying as queer (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning). Each portrait is presented with a stark white backdrop, acting as a blank canvas, where each subject’s personal thoughts are handwritten onto the final print. With more than sixty-five portraits photographed over a period of ten years, Speaking OUT provides rare insight into the passions, confusions, prejudices, joys, and sorrows felt by queer youth.

In April, an exhibit of the photographs was vandalized at the University of Connecticut, prompting a rally by the university and local community against those who vandalized the art and in support of LGBTQ people. The vandalism, which included inappropriate drawings on photographs in the exhibit and the message "god hates the gays" written in the exhibit's sign-in book, is still being investigated.

“We were truly impressed by the response to the vandalism and the outpouring of support from the campus and community.” Craig Wiesner, publisher of Speaking OUT, said. “The book has been wonderfully received, has garnered stellar reviews in places like the School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly, and we’re so excited to have Rachelle Lee Smith here in the Bay Area to talk about the ten year journey she traveled to create this book.”

Rachelle Lee Smith will present images from her book, talk about its creation, and sign books at:

  • Laurel Books in Oakland on Wednesday June 24th at 7pm

  • Human Rights Campaign (HRC) store on Castro Street in San Francisco on Thursday June 25th at 7pm

  • Reach And Teach Bookstoreand Cultural Gift Shop in San Mateo on Friday June 26th at 7pm

  • Gay Pride San Francisco Queer Youth Space and PM Press booth (Civic Center) during the day on Saturday June 27th and Sunday June 28th

  • First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto on Sunday June 28th at 7pm

  • American Library Association San Francisco Conference Pop Top Stage Reading and Signing on Monday, June 29th from 12noon to 1pm

  • Green Arcade Books on Monday, June 29th at 7pm

About Reach And Teach:

Reach And Teach works to transform the world through teachable moments with books, toys, fair-trade gifts, games, curriculum and other products that promote peacemaking, sustainable living, and gender equality, with a shop on 25th Avenue in San Mateo and online at

About PM Press:

PM Press creates radical and stimulating fiction and nonfiction books, pamphlets, T-shirts, visual and audio materials to entertain, educate, and inspire.

About Rachelle Lee Smith:

Rachelle Lee Smith is an award-winning, nationally and internationally shown and published photographer. Rachelle’s work in Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus combines her passions for activism and photography to tell the stories of, and provide a rare insight into, the evolving passions, confusions, prejudices, fulfillment, joys, and sorrows of queer youth.

Speaking OUT has been showcased in magazines such as The Advocate, School Library Journal and showcased by the Equality Forum, the Human Rights Campaign, National Public Radio, The Huffington Post, World Pride and the U.S. Department of Education.

The ongoing photographic essay was published this year by PM Press and Reach & Teach with a foreword and afterword by HRC's Candace Gingrich and Graeme Taylor.

For more information or to arrange for an interview before or during the Bay Area tour, please contact Craig Wiesner ( 650-759-3784.

Green America approved