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APA Scope: Deaf LGBTQIA+

Mon 15th Jan, 2024 – Mon 15th Jan, 2024

By APA Admin

Guest: Chad Unger
Moderators: Martine Séverin, Jill Broussard

Project: Deaf LGBT+: An Untold Perspective of Living Through The AIDS Crisis

American Photographic Artists (APA) Chad Unger (he/him) is the 2023 recipient of the annual LGBTQIAP+ Photography Grant sponsored by APA’s Washington, D.C., chapter (APA | DC).

A panel of distinguished jurors selected Chad’s project from 142 applications across the globe. He is a deaf-queer visual artist originally from Maryland and currently based in Los Angeles.

Chad’s grant submission, “Deaf Gays: An Untold Perspective of Living Through The AIDS Crisis,” documents the stories of Deaf Queer elders through interviews and collecting related materials such as old magazines, past photographs, and current photography and videography. This work will follow their journeys of self-discovery, showcasing their strength and resilience as they navigate the complexities of being a part of two marginalized communities during a time of crisis and societal upheaval.

“It means a great deal to me and the community I aim to represent through my project. The grant will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in advancing my research and shedding light on the experiences of Deaf Individuals during the AIDS Crisis,” said Unger.

APA|DC launched the $3,000 grant in 2022 for emerging and established photographers to celebrate diversity and help LGBTQIAP+ photographers receive funding, recognition, and representation in the professional photographic community. Photographers age 18+ worldwide who self-identified as LGBTQIAP+ were eligible to apply.

Bio: Chad Unger (b. 1993) is a Deaf-Gay visual artist originally from Maryland, currently based in Los Angeles. Growing up with a deaf family, actively involved with the deaf community, and primarily communicating through American Sign Language, Chad's experiences shaped him into an observer with deep appreciation of stories with strong visual elements.

Chad started his career by merging his passion of capturing stories and snowboarding in Utah. There, the landscape guided Chad's creative aesthetic to capture the subject's context and deepen the narrative. Being a traveler who lived in several states in the US, Chad met numerous people who empowered him to also live his authentic self. After coming out in 2018, Chad sought out Deaf Queer stories. His journey led him to meet several Deaf Queer elders who lived through the AIDS crisis and was shocked how little of it has been documented.

With profound appreciation for the dwindling group of survivors, Chad was inspired to preserve their stories before they are lost. He has been interviewing deaf queers, asking about how their disability background informed their experiences of being queer in America. His goal is to inspire both deaf and queer communities to not only appreciate these elders, but also the communities that they forged to sustain hope for future generations.

Translator: Michael DeMeo

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