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Debunking Phallacies_edited.jpg

Debunking Phallacies

A thesis exhibition exploring the ideas of personal myth, identity, self expression, code-switching and masking, and gender binaries.

As we navigate through personal and traumatic experiences in life, we develop a personal myth – a false belief or idea centered around some aspect of ourselves – as a means of survival and social acceptance. In Debunking Phallacies, I use photographic images to explore my own personal myth that to be taken seriously and seen as legitimate and successful, I needed to adhere to social constructs of masculinity and gender binaries. Rooted in abuse from peers growing up, any desire I may have had for an exploration of personal identity and self-expression was stunted by a fear of ridicule and ostracization from this heteronormative society that, as children, we were taught we had to conform to in order to belong. As a means of fitting in while not drawing any undue attention to myself, I compartmentalized the various aspects of my life and persona, feeling that they were diametrically opposed and could not live within the same space together.


Members of the LGBTQ community continue to discover and redefine our personal identities while consistently being met with opposition to our choices of expression, our appearances, and even our right to exist, which only helps to reinforce and perpetuate my personal myth. These attacks are a means of intimidation to force members of the queer community back into the closet, eradicating both our imprint on and presence within society.


By exploring the intersection of gendered expectations and personal identity, I use my imagery to engage in a dialogue with viewers to understand why we suppress our authentic selves and deploy increased levels of masking and code-switching. By alternating or adjusting our language, grammatical structure, behavior, and appearance to fit into a dominant culture, I ask viewers to consider whether code-switching and masking are acts of self-preservation or self-sabotage. Additionally, I use my work to question the legitimacy of these societally determined binaries, using the present to remove historical manipulation and hijacking to reclaim personal adornment as forms of gender-neutral expression. In researching the work of contemporary and historical photographers who work with identity and LGBTQ-related topics, this series studies these concepts through the lens of digital photography.

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