These collections of images will be in the Pride Photo Award exhibition travelling throughout the Netherlands between 31st March 2023 and January 2024. The exhibition is free to all, it is also available online to view.
The theme of the 2023 exhibition was the process of change. People in the LGBTQIA+ community are looking for new ways to express themselves and celebrate diversity, with big and small steps to stretch the norm in society.
One of the exhibition stories was a selection of images by Chiara Fabbro. Chiara is an Italian documentary photographer based in London who focuses on human rights and migration.
The series Invisible Borders is about Dimitri, who was born in the Greek fishing village of Skala Sikamineas. At 14, Dimitri told her parents that she identified as a girl and later asked for sex reassignment surgery. Unfortunately, she was placed in a mental institution against her will. Later, in her 20s, she lived in Athens for a few years before returning to her family home to care for her elderly parents. After they had both passed away, Dimitri started wearing women's clothes, including eventually high heels.
Chiara reflects on her experience meeting Dimitri:
"When I met Dimitri, on the island of Lesvos, in Greece, she told me that she finally felt comfortable with her identity and no longer worried about her appearance. She was proud of her journey.
When I asked her why she often looked sad, Dimitri told me that it was because of all the suffering happening in the world. And she could witness it first hand, as at that time there were many refugees landing on the island, which is just a few kilometres away from the Turkish coast. Her answer stayed with me because, despite all the difficulties she had to deal with herself, her concerns were turned towards others.
Dimitri, unfortunately, left this world before her time, but I want to remember her listening to her beloved Maria Callas, whom she used to play very loud, creating a surreal and melancholic atmosphere in her small fishing village."
In the series, Chiara photographed Dimitri as she walked around her hometown with her head held high, wearing the colour red, her favourite colour, to celebrate St. Dimitri's Day. Dimitri told Chiara how comfortable she felt with her identity and appearance finally after all the tough times she went through.
This series shows the fight for Dimitris's right to cross the invisible border of gender identity. Sadly, in June 2021, Dimitri passed away. Chiara posted on Instagram an image from the series captioned "Our society failed you, beautiful candid soul. Skala will not be the same without your Maria Callas filling the air with melancholy."
Another photographer selected for an exhibition story was Ilvy Njiokiktjien, she is an independent photographer and multimedia journalist based in the Netherlands. She focuses on current affairs and contemporary social issues.
Russia invaded Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022, which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides. Before the invasion, many people of the LGBTQIA+ community living in Ukraine were hopeful for the future of their rights in the country after the government promised pro-LGBTQIA+ legislation. This was put aside as no action could be taken as the war continues and the Constitution cannot make amends during wartime.
In the series I Don't Want to be Gay in this Ukraine, Ilvy captures the lives of LGBTQI+ individuals in Lviv who deal with the consequences of the Russian invasion. Ilvy went to Lviv to cover everyday life in the city, she started her project to document the LGBTQIA+ community as they cope with the Russian war and the cost of the Russian war.