Heroic Authenticity

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HEROIC AUTHENTICITY - Why Do We Need Gay Athletes As Role Models?

Contributor: Kristan Burley, Curator/Producer/Olympian, info@heroicauthenticity.org

The sport community defines itself by excellence in performance above all else yet remains one of the last bastions of cultural stereotypes. However with every courageous high performance athlete who comes out, acceptance of the humanity of all athletes grows. LGBTIQ athlete stories can change the attitudes of those around them by bringing the message that excellence is an outcome of talent, training and passion. Heroic Authenticity: Identities in Transition is a photographic narrative of the lives of Canada’s LGBTIQ athletes and allies. The athletes will be photographed outside their sport arenas to highlight their other personal interests and passions in ways we have never seen before. The depth of their humanity beyond their high performance achievement is the focus for this work.

The goal of Heroic Authenticity is to combine art and athletes to build community, celebrate diversity, and inspire new perspectives. Beginning with LGBTIQ athletes this project fundamentally seeks to explore how identity and personal authenticity can lay the foundation for innovative social progress. This is the first time we look beyond the sport and the performance and allow the athletes to communicate who they are.

The athlete subjects feature those who represent the best our country has to offer in their chosen disciplines. These Olympians, Paralympians and National Team athletes come from a variety of sports. The term “athlete” describes both able bodied and athletes with a disability since athletes don’t differentiate between the validity of the two.

This exhibition will present large format limited edition archival prints combined with multimedia installations. Shooting locations and styles will be determined following detailed personal interviews. An interactive audience component will also be developed.

Heroic Authenticity empowers athletes to reveal aspects of their identity and experiences formative in their development as people. Because athletes are rarely referred to as anything but athletes, this project broadens our understanding of and challenges our preconceptions about athletes, revealing the rarely explored other aspects of their lives. Revealing the substance beneath these exceptional people in the community calls to the exceptional within us all.

Heroic Authenticity will expose the humanity within; empowering both the athlete and the viewer by sharing that every human has a complex identity that informs their achievements.

“In my experience before something becomes a non-issue, it usually has to be an issue for a while. Being gay in sport is still an issue – even in 2013. I am excited to see the portraits revealed in the Heroic Authenticity project. What did people’s journeys to being themselves look like? How did sport influence them? What an inspiring tale these portraits will tell!” ~ Mark Tewksbury, 1992 Olympic Champion, Swimming, 2012 Chef De Mission London Olympics

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