You Belong to Me is a creative project that unites photography, creative writing, phenomenology, queer theory, and cultural analysis to form a cohesive picture of the nature of transgender identity, the values of fictive kinship and community building, and the (hyper)visibility and erasure as visual metaphors. My project begins with Marta Cunningham's 2013 documentary "Valentine Road", which takes on the February 2008 murder of Lawrence "Larry" King, who was killed by another student. This is a source from which I gather my foundational thoughts about the institutionalized violence faced by gender non-conforming, queer, and transgender students, paying particular focus to Larry's life as one representative of those most in need of institutional and communal support. I then translate my analysis through my own photographic endeavors, which include returning to Oxnard, Californa, where the shooting took place, as a means of physically documenting my conception of queer recursivity. This theoretical framework informs my visual work and acts as a lens through which I locate other queer and transgender creatives with whom I was able to connect only through experiencing the trauma of Larry's murder. I utilize Maggie Nelson's invocation of "the many gendered mothers of my heart" in order to craft a family that inhabits a self-created and self-defined space where marginalized identities are able to exist. I conclude that this project is the first step in a larger dialogue about the aforementioned themes, necessitating material and sustainable changes in the lives of vulnerable youth who witness violence from multiple angles via legal, medical, and social institutions.
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