&PROUD – Photo competition 2014

Myanmar, 2014

Myanmar’s first-ever LGBT photography competition. Six series and a several individual photos were submitted and shown at the Witness Yangon Documentary Arts Space in May 2014.

With support from Document Our History Now, the Myanmar LGBT advocacy organisation Colors Rainbow collaborated with YG Events (led by Jan Willem van Rooij, organiser of the monthly FAB LGBT party in Yangon) to organise a first LGBT photo competition in connection with IDAHOT (the International Day Against Homo- and Transphobia) in May 2014. The results were shown at the Witness Yangon Documentary Arts Space from 11–18 May 2014.

Photo series were submitted by:

Hong Sar, ‘The Big Pink’, 1st prize
Floriamo, ‘Mogok Pauk Pauk’, 2nd prize (not shown here)
Swar Lay, ‘Daily Life of Osear and Wnye’, 3rd prize
Moe Kyaw Thu, Photos 25, 32, 43 (not shown here)
Andre, Photos 1768, 1697, 1713, 1720 (not shown here)
Boothee, Photos 4366, 4368, 6075 (not shown here)

Individual photos were submitted by:

Min Thawe Aung, no title, 1st prize
Hong Sar, no title, 2nd prize
Unknown, photo 5759 (not shown here)
Unknown, ‘Same-Sex Marriage Approval Form’ (not shown here)

Jan Willem van Rooij, why was this competition and the exhibition organised?

“We had several aims in organising the competition and exhibition. As for the competition, we were open to both amateur and professional photographers. For professionals, we wanted photographers in Myanmar to think about LGBT issues and to have a reason to connect with the community and to search for stories. By also opening up to amateur photographers, we hoped to give people in the community a chance to show their lives to a wider audience in Myanmar.

“The competition rules were kept very open: we asked only that the photos would show the community in a positive light; we wanted photos that showed the full breadth of LGBT identities.

“The competition resulted in an exhibition in Yangon, during which we showcased all the entries. We wanted to make the community more visible in Myanmar, and to decrease the sense of ‘otherness’ regarding LGBTs. Many of the photos showed gays, lesbians and transgenders in their daily lives, loving one another, in recognisable settings. They were photos that people can relate to, and they were photos that got people talking about LGBT rights.”

Jan Willem van Rooij about Document Our History Now:

“The collaboration with Document Our History Now allowed us to scale up the exhibition and increase the promotion for the competition and the exhibition. Additionally, discussions with DOHN helped us fine-tune the aims of the competition and look across the Myanmar borders to see what other artists in Southeast Asia were involved in.”

Exposure so far:

  • About 200 persons visited the exhibition
  • The exhibition was featured in the news bulletin of two national TV channels, and in three newspapers
  • Several online news websites in Myanmar featured the exhibition