Mark Nelson says we should all just be ourselves. And if anyone doesn’t like it, screw them.
Vision statement, about OUT:
“OUT”, a gallery show put on by Carsten Fleck, consists of 18 photographic portraits (16 x 24″) and tape-recorded stories about how each individual first revealed his or her sexual preference. Visitors stand before each portrait, and hear, through their headphones, the heartfelt account of how the person in the photograph first admitted being gay to close friends and family-either last month or forty years ago.Homophobia, while on the decline, is still rampant today. In a Gallup Poll conducted in May, 2010, 43% of Americans called gay sex “morally wrong.” This social climate greatly increases the risk of suicide among young lesbian and gay teens. In 2010, at least six gay young people committed suicide because they were bullied by their classmates. The show “OUT” hopes to counter the suicide risk among gay young people by showing that coming out can lead to a more honest and satisfying life.Kelli Peterman, who manages the Trevor Project’s East Coast call center, says, “Especially for those who live in conservative communities, there’s the constant stress of, ‘Who can I come out to?’ Even before a teen gathers the courage to come out, he or she may often hear comments like, ‘If I had a gay friend, I wouldn’t hang out with him.’ When you’re 13 or 14 years old, that’s a tremendous amount of stress.” Initiatives such as OUT can offer comfort and hope to teens who have either suppressed their sexuality or been teased because of it. Young gay people and their parents-indeed all people-need to know that most scientists believe that sexual orientation is genetic: no more a matter of choice than a person’s height or skin color.All proceeds from the show will be donated to the Ali Forney Center in NYC, to support housing for LGBT homeless youth. When teenagers come out, they are sometimes banished from their homes and forced to live in the street. “I thought my show ‘OUT’ would be an ideal way of calling attention to their plight and raising money for their cause,” says photographer Carsten Fleck.In late 2010, Fleck mounted a critically acclaimed multimedia show in New York, The Shadow of War, with contemporary portraits of elderly Germans. Visitors listened to their stories on headphones and came away, often in tears, with a greater understanding of what it was like to live in Germany during World War II. Similarly, visitors to “OUT” will learn about the challenges and rewards of coming out and will be moved by the stories they hear.
About Mark Nelson:
Mark Nelson has been producing and promoting entertainers, events and charities for over 20 years. Working with the likes of Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Patti LaBelle and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Mark’s tenacity has made him a staple on the GLBT party scene. Mark has helped conceptualize and produce the largest annual LGBT event in the USA, New York City’s Pride. He has been interviewed by countless media outlets and was chosen the “favorite national promoter” for having the current “best weekly party” in the USA called the F Word that has featured performances by Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry and Charo in the last 12 months.
For more stories, visit the OUT website.