New book by Halifax photographer explores what it's like to be queer in quarantine

·3 min read
Queer in Quarantine is a portrait series created by Halifax photographer Maddi Tang. The self-published book showcases queer experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Maddi Tang/Paul Atwood - image credit)
Queer in Quarantine is a portrait series created by Halifax photographer Maddi Tang. The self-published book showcases queer experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Maddi Tang/Paul Atwood - image credit)

A Halifax photographer has self-published a book that highlights the experiences of LGBTQ people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's a lot of introspection," Maddi Tang told CBC's Mainstreet on Wednesday.

"I mean, it's somewhat forced introspection when you can't spend time with your community but, yeah, [it's] a lot of reflecting on who we are and how we connect to each other."

Tang started working on the project last June after realizing that the Halifax Pride Festival would be cancelled due to the COVID-19.

The portrait series includes reflections from 25 people exploring their queer identity and what it's like to live during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The portrait series includes reflections from 25 people exploring their queer identity and what it's like to live during the COVID-19 pandemic.(Courtesy of Maddi Tang)

That loss of community connection is what inspired Queer in Quarantine, a collection of 25 portraits and personal reflections from people within Halifax's LGBTQ community.

When the project started, Tang put a call out on Instagram looking for people who would be willing to write a reflection about being queer in quarantine.

"There are a lot of recurring themes around just having more, or different time and space, to reflect on people's identity and how people connect with their communities and their families and the people around them," Tang said.

Tang would then ask the subjects to choose a place to be photographed that represented their time in quarantine, which often included balconies, backyards and shared community spaces.

Tang finished taking photos for the book in November and has been working on getting it published ever since.
Tang finished taking photos for the book in November and has been working on getting it published ever since.(Courtesy of Maddi Tang)

Submissions were slow at first. But once Tang started posting more photos on their Instagram, sessions picked up.

"This is the first project of this scale that I've taken on," Tang said.

"I had just finished my undergrad and was thrown into the pandemic and was looking for ways to spend my time and place to get better at the craft that I loved and so this project was a good answer to that."

Tang said the process allowed them to learn more about the community, but also helped them learn more about their own queer identity.

"I think getting to spend time around so many people that we're having similar reflections and getting to share ideas back and forth and just, you know, talk shop, has been really powerful for me as a person in my own development," they said.

Tang finished taking photos for the book in November and has been working to get it published ever since.

Earlier this month, Tang printed 50 copies of the book based on interest from Instagram. Within three days, every copy had sold.

"It was unexpected, a little bit overwhelming, but in a really positive way. It's been so long coming," Tang said.

Subjects were asked to write a reflection about their experience and choose a place to be photographed that represented their time in quarantine.
Subjects were asked to write a reflection about their experience and choose a place to be photographed that represented their time in quarantine.(Courtesy of Maddi Tang)

Tang said so far, reviews have all been positive.

"People are having a good time looking back, seeing that period of time reflected in the book."

Tang is now working on getting a new batch of books printed.

Tang said proceeds from the book will be used to pay for printing costs and then the remaining funds will then be donated evenly between the 2SQTBIPOC Healing Fund and The Youth Project.

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