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‘Portraits of Pride’ celebrates truth and love for LGBT History Month with new public art exhibition

Derrick Young Jr., cofounder and executive director of Leadership Brainery, photographed at the Boston Public Library as part of "Portraits of Pride." The public art exhibit featuring LGBTQ+ community leaders photographed by Manchester-based John Huet will be on display through October for LGBT History Month.JOHN HUET

What does “pride” mean? For Derrick Young Jr. and Jonathan Allen, cofounders of the nonprofit Leadership Brainery, pride is ”a willingness to risk it all to show that our love is love, our love is magical, our love is gentle and peaceful, our love preserves, and our love liberates.”

Responses like theirs will be on display with 20 other LGBTQ+ community leaders’ beginning Saturday on Boston Common. The sentiments of pride are featured alongside portraits of each local subject, as part of a new public photography exhibition celebrating LGBT History Month.

The “Portraits of Pride” installation, which runs through Oct. 29, features 8-foot-tall portraits of artists, activists, business and nonprofit leaders, and more. Taken by the Manchester-based photographer John Huet, the portrait subjects include figures like state Senator Julian Cyr, Boston Public Library president David Leonard, local high school student activists Ashton Mota and Alia Cusolito, and civil rights lawyer Mary Bonauto.

“These portraits are both personal and political,” said Jean Dolin, the creative director and curator of “Portraits of Pride,” who is himself gay. He said the subjects span several generations of “heroes” from the LGBTQ+ community. “We have the right to be here, to love the way we love, and to exist in the ways we want to exist.”

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Dolin, who is an activist and documentarian, said that the exhibit comes at a time of increasing attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in the United States, from violence against transgender people to “banning literature that speaks to our existence” and “curriculum that speaks to our history.” He said the portraits speak to past activism against discrimination as well as where the community can go in the future.

Community activist and creative director/curator Jean Dolin with the Seaport Wall installation for "Portraits of Pride."Provided

Each portrait displays its subject in a location unique to them and in addition to the Boston Common installation, different portraits from the same photoshoots will be exhibited during the month of October at 60 Seaport Blvd.

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“I wanted to create as much as I possibly could something that was individual or unique to the person,” Huet said. “The exercise for me was, I didn’t have any advance notice as far as what they were going to be wearing or where we were going to meet them.”

Dolin said he chose after conversing with people across the city’s LGBTQ+ community. Huet, who has shot for a wide range of clients, from Vogue to Nike, said he hopes that the intimate portraits will help people better understand and meet people who “had a big part in changing the perception and the history of the community.”

“The more that you know about a person, the more you can relate to that person,” he said. “I think in this day and age, that’s something that’s important.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dusty.christensen@protonmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @dustyc123.