Of the roughly 15,000 to 20,000 homeless youths in New York, up to 40 percent of them are LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender). `Sylvia's Place' originated as the vision of Sylvia Rivera, a transgendered woman, who was an advocate for LGBT rights during her life and worked tirelessly, even while stricken with cancer, for the food pantry at the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. On her deathbed, she made the Reverend Pat Bumgardner promise to find a way to start a shelter in the space. One year after her death Rev Pat saw to it that this vision was seen through to fruition.
Their first client, Ron Malice, arrived on April 3rd of 2003, and within a week from Ron's arrival, Lucky Michaels was hired. As a participant observer, Lucky began photographing the environment and the teenagers who walked through their doors.
Each story became a part of Sylvia's growing history. "I'm here and I'm alive, so I guess I'm lucky," says Domico Sanchez, one of the shelter's clients, "It's hard for anyone being homeless. But imagine being homeless, a teenager and gay. People would jump you on the streets." Each young person has had something to say, even if only in silence. With music flooding the air inside, voices vying for attention, pots clanging in the sink, silence has a story of its own.
The one thing they all have in common is that they all have nowhere else to sleep, but even sleep is never a guarantee at Sylvia's. Many of them lie plagued with insomnia, others lie awake with the hope of a new day. Although they might not find restful sleep each night, they always find a bed and a shower. Some also find families, enemies, boyfriends, girlfriends. Most find their own kind of sanctuary.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.8" Width: 8.8" Height: 0.8" Weight: 1.95 lbs.
Release Date Feb 28, 2008
ISBN 1904563635 ISBN13 9781904563631
I find this book to be disturbing in the sense that it could have been anyone of us who were close to the Church. The photography is stunning and beautiful. My heart goes out to the men and women who suffered/suffers in the hands of these monsters. It has changed my view of the church. Hail to my cousin Carm who helped put the facts out there. My prayers are with all those people.
Outstanding Representation of Reality Apr 12, 2008
The material in this book only contained three posed shots, realistic imagery of the lives of LGBT runaways and discarded youths. They need a shelter and a home - this book brings to light that need and lays it very honestly before you. It has a prominent place on my living room table for all to see and inquire.
'Shelter' Shines Mar 14, 2008
Picking up this beautifully bound photography book, one could not imagine the experience hiding inside. In his debut publication called SHELTER, Lucky Michaels rocks the photography world with a book chronicling the lives of the young queer people living at a New York City shelter. Michaels' images are shockingly intimate and from first page to last, they weave a story of what it is to be queer, young, and homeless. In one image, a shelter resident snorts the blue powder from a pixie stick. In another, a pair of transgender girls fix each other's hair as they get ready to leave for the day. Michaels has an eye like no other photographer and it's clear that he truly loves his subject matter.
The photographs are accompanied by text that tells a more narrative version of these young people's lives. We follow the lives of a handful of the people seen in the book and see what the world is like through their eyes. The stories are often tragic, gut-wrenching vignettes, but each of them holds an element of hope and promise that their worlds will get better. The real magic, however is found in the photographs themselves.
This book is a treasure that deserves a place on everyone's bookshelf. It's a reminder of the work still left to do and a celebration of young lives that excel in survival. And watch out for Lucky Michaels. This guy clearly has a healthy, successful career ahead of him.