The Lesbian Gaze

The following portfolio is my small attempt at showing lesbians –and more generally queer women, in all their shapes, sizes and colors, from around the world, starting with Paris, Montréal, the Pacific Northwest, Mexico, and Central America. In it you will find portraits, candid shots, stolen images, and scenes from lesbian life. Click on the images to make them full size and view the individual stories of these women and also check my Instagram, since I highlight one of these lovely ladies once a week over there.

The project takes its name from, and attempts to re-appropriate, the theory of the “male gaze”, according to which women are only represented in the media through, and for the benefit of, the male eye. Lesbians, being both women and gay, face depictions oscillating from unrealistic porn fantasies to the denial of their mere existence. Consequently, I’ve set out to fight this tendency on my small scale and portray as many lesbians as I can, but through the non-distorting lens of my own lesbian perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy and see we’re normal(ish) 😛

A final note on the name: some people take issue with my use of the word “lesbian”: it is not inclusive enough, it seems. A few bi or trans women have expressed concerns that they wouldn’t fit in the portfolio, and yet others have told me to just “stop it with the labels already”. I have struggled with this feedback, because this project is not meant to exclude anyone, it’s meant to shed a light on certain humans who are often forgotten: women. Whether they are lesbian, bi, queer, or trans. I thought for a while of calling it “the queer gaze” but decided against it for two reasons: (1) because queer is too inclusive of a word. And while I do love my gays, I want this to be a woman-centric project, because our societies are still very much misogynistic; and (2) because it is also about my subjective gaze as a photographer, and not only do I have zero issue with the word lesbian, but I am actually very proud of using it. In fact, I think anyone who feels truly close to that end of the spectrum should be, so we can put an end to the stigma this word seems to carry… Thanks to whom? Yes, men –but no, I am not a “man-hating lesbian”. To sum up, this project aims to be about empowerment through visibility of both lesbians and the word lesbian! So the “lesbian gaze” it will remain titled.

PS: If you want to suggest questions for me to ask locals or want to participate, write me at hannahcauhepe@gmail.com

PPS: If you read French, check out Barbieturix for my reports on each country I visit!

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3 thoughts on “The Lesbian Gaze

  1. This is an excellent project. Your photography is truly rare in its… transparency? Feels like a window. I knew before you said it that the name is perfect because it fits *your* subjective view point, and that’s all you’re claiming to represent.

    Full-on love and support coming from my little corner of the web.
    ~Taylor

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This project is so beautiful. Looking at this women is very inspiring. Being a closeted lesbian living in Mexico City I have truly been moved by looking at your gaze. Thank you for taking the time, thank you for sharing, thank you for showing so beautiful and amazing smiles.

    Like

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