Seth Caplan


On Queer Community and Resilience During the Pandemic, 2020

The idea for these portraits came mid-May, two months into lockdown. I was deeply missing in-person queer community, making work, and feeling unmoored by uncertainty. I wanted a way to see my queer friends who I usually see on the dance floor and at artist dinners, to check-in and connect in person. I was curious, too, how people were rethinking their relationship to Pride as it was approaching amid the pandemic. When the renewed protests for Black Lives broke out in response to continued police brutality, I put taking the portraits on hold while learning, participating and organizing with others. In July, I started making them again as a way to have one-on-one catch-ups after months apart, and to document and mark the moment. To keep social distance while we were still learning about COVID, I biked with my equipment to friends in nearby Brooklyn, and photographed them on side-streets, on roofs, and in backyards, fully embracing the summer sun.

I'm always inspired by how our queer communities connect to resilience throughout periods hardship and change. To accompany these portraits, I asked each friend to share a short reflection on a way they’ve been connecting to queer resilience and community in relationship to the pandemic, to the Movement for Black Lives, and to systemic inequity overall.  

Matías Alvial

A human connection that transcends the typical conventions of ‘friendship’, to be queer is to belong to a family that will welcome you without judgement, a family that is filled with love and anger--love for one another, anger towards the common oppressor. We ought to not fall complicit to generational amnesia: educate the youth, rejoice comradery, remember the dark times, and fight for the liberation of ALL of our siblings.

Maggie Cely

I'm a bit of a "late season" queer. I arrived to myself later than most. I've spent a lot of quarantine reflecting on where I belong within the queer community; and, about those for whom belonging remains a distant dream. So maybe that's the theme of my quarantine: how to foster belonging for myself and for others.

T. Oliver Reed and Jeremiah Feather

In these “Pandemical” times, we’ve had the blessing of time. Time to reflect on who we are, who we’ve been, who we want to be. We’ve seen the sadness and hate around us while surrounded by video moments with biological and chosen families. The hate and sadness can not sustain us but the love and fellowship can…and has. This time to see and think, has brought some clarity on what we need to change in order for there to be any parity and equity in this country. I hope we all come out of this better humans…more in tune with the planet and more caring and kind to each other, regardless of how we identify, regardless of race, regardless of differences.

Juan Felipe Leguizamón

I find inspiration from people who are using their abilities, and the resources available to them, to better support their community at this time. They are the true example of resiliency, and this country would be nothing without them.

Sammy Kim

I broke quarantine to march in the streets alongside friends and strangers, protesting the unjust killings of Black people across the country by civilian and state violence. Through this summer of protest, I’ve become closer with friends old and new, as we've learned how to best protect each other and check-in with one another, whether at a march or at the beach. I’ve learned to approach connecting to others with more intention. Focusing on care and support teaches me that everything I do can be a radical form of protest.

Daniel Dugoff

I've never felt more rooted in my neighborhood than the last five months. Seeing the community raise their collective voice in person and online to call out inequity for Black and Black Trans people is inspiring and helps me feel connected to the outside world.

Esaies Freeman

I’ve honestly spent this time reflecting on myself and how my queerness manifests through me in my identity and expression. I’ve been taking this time to just meditate and become more myself, and to further connect with my community through activism and self expression.

Terence Edgerson

This has been a really rocky time for me, mentally. A saving grace though, has been connecting with my queer siblings by going for one-on-one walks, and checking in with each other on how we’ve been doing. I always knew I belonged to a great community, but it wasn't until this pandemic that I really saw how tight our bonds are, and how we’ve come together to support one another. It's been the silver lining in all of this uncertainty, knowing I have people to turn to.

Cherie B. Tay and Aline Kovacs

We have been attending protests, making protest art, and donating our time and resources to the communities in need. We fostered dogs, grew plants, shaved one head, and postponed our wedding. We keep going on and keep helping those in need.