J. Genevieve

Artist
  
2019 ATX Pride
Location: Salado, TX
Nationality: Caucasian
Biography: At 17, a Midwest girl witnessed a moment unfolding between her father and grandfather, sensed its significance and instinctually reached for a camera. During the next 20+ years she honed that perspective, teaching herself her craft through nation... read on
Public Story
2019 ATX Pride
Pride Parade, Austin, Texas, 2019.  It was an honor to create these images and I hope their joy and spirit is contagious and moves all to consider with more open minds and hearts that the beauty of freedom is truly for all.

A transparent moment of dismantling privilege and fear is below in regards to these images. I include this story not to detract from the beauty of these images. I share it because I think the more I, as a white woman, openly admit mistakes, reveal avoidant, harmful mindsets and the situations where I was given opportunities to confront them and change, the more it will help unravel the hold of white supremacy, more specifically as it pertains to this set of images, white hetero-normative supremacy in our culture. If you're interested in this conversation, please read on. If not, simply enjoy the images and thank you for taking the time to consider them.

***

A few years back I pitched an idea for a Valentine's Day ad to my boss. It involved a shot of various couples of all different ages, races and orientations holding hands. The shot would have focused on all the different combinations of just hands - a simple nod to "EVERYONE has the right to celebrate love together". Their response was "personally, I love that. But I don't think our client base will. Let's wait and see about that idea for next year." Even though I disagreed, I could see their side of things. It's not easy having a small business in a small town in a conservative county. They had employees and a shit ton of overhead to consider. Any drop in income could make or break the livelihood of 5 very hardworking people and fast. They took that seriously because they cared for their people, one of which was me. I didn't put up a fuss and shot something different. After all, I was a single mom, with two kids, trying to get back on her feet after majorly rocking the boat and stepping away from an entire lifestyle built on a patriarchal value system. That decision had cost enough, I felt I couldn't afford to lose any more in that moment either. I sure as hell was protecting my paycheck [and now, as I also understand, my privilege] more than any principle at that point.

Fast forward to last year. I had launched my own brand, was running my own business and two months into it headed to Austin to document the Pride Parade. I was so excited to post the images [the ones you see in this visual story - I hadn't found Visura just yet] all over social media. They were beautiful, free and full of life and color. I cried half the time behind the camera while I was shooting thinking about the sacrifice it took for those beautiful souls to get there. I wanted the world to see and feel the same beauty of freedom, celebrate with and support these humans. But when it came time to post them, I hesitated. For the same reasons my boss had before. Only now it felt even more urgent because it was just me and me. No team to help pull in income. A brand new creative business in the same small town. Two growing hooligan children. I needed clients because our lives were literally depending on it. I didn't think I had been tiptoeing around trying to appease everyone for the sake of a consistent paycheck, until I observed my own hesitation to post images about something I believed deeply in.

In that moment, I could clearly see it. I faced my own hypocrisy and fear, got over it and posted those damn beautiful photos. 

It was a small instance and a quick decision, yet it set a precedent to build my business and create my art because it is the expression of what I stand for, not a reaction to what people will throw money at.  Do I still need to provide for my family first? Yes. But this small experience was a start to help me to understand that it was imperative to put down privilege, take up the extra effort to hold onto what matters AND find ways to create a consistent paycheck while doing so. I have a long way to go to build a brand and body of work in that way. I believe doing so is a part of taking up my personal responsibility in dismantling white hetero-normative supremacy. It will take a lifetime to work this out and get this straight, but I am here for it until we live in a world where the beauty of freedom truly is for all.
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