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Queerbomb Austin

"My name is Jeanette Nevarez. I am a twenty-six-year old artist and photographer. I grew up in the border town of Juarez, Mexico and as a teenager moved to El Paso, Texas. As a teenager I took an avid interest in photography. In 2012, I completed my Associates degree at a community college and shortly after I moved to Austin in 2013. Since then I have completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography from Texas State University. Pursuing my education and career in art and photography has been one of my greatest accomplishments as an artist.

When I first moved to Austin I began to attend queer related events and found them to be transformative and profound. In an attempt to demystify and understand it, I began to photograph queer identifying people. Since then I have been involved in creating photographic representation for the LGBTQIA+ community in Austin.

Queerbomb is Austin’s alternative pride. It is a community run organization that was founded in June of 2010. Queerbomb celebrates the communities unique and collective pride. It is a free event that includes guest speakers, artists, vendors, a procession through the streets of downtown Austin, and a dance party. Queerbomb encourages and celebrates unabashed pride.

The concept came from my own admiration of portrait photography. I am always looking to my mentors for inspiration and I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorites, Catherine Opie. She once said in an interview, “It’s really important to me that the people are just who they are in the picture.

They can’t be pathologized. It’s not about what their gender is.” I try to convey this freedom through the lens. The red backdrop was the perfect choice, bold, passionate, and gender neutral. It will be a fun challenge to think of a better idea for next year.

The purpose of this series was to document the attendees and share these images back to the community. The setup was comparable to a photo booth but I treated it like a portrait studio.

About three years ago I attended Queerbomb for the first time. Immediately I felt liberated and at home, accepted. I felt compelled to document this incredible happening and express my own creativity with my camera. I took environmental portraits of people and I felt comfortable as an artist. I was reassured of my own creative desires. When you are surrounded by unabashed artistic energy, you feel positively transformed.

Without the LGBTQIA+ community I wouldn’t have been able to understand the intricacies of identity as well as the importance of understanding my own. As a Mexican American cis gendered woman, I never felt excluded from the LGBTQIA+ community. This communal understanding of inclusivity allowed me to understand things I wouldn’t have otherwise recognized. I was drawn to the transformative and progressive qualities in the LGBTQIA+ community. The “be who you are” mentality is important. It is important to be proud of who you are but also to know where you come from, and figure out how you can contribute.

I’ve had a long journey with photography and creating work that makes a difference to someone is very rewarding. The work that I do for Queerbomb is my way of giving back to my community."