Rita Reed will discuss obstacles and solutions to growing up gay in a small town as a part of this year's One Read program, focused on "The Big Door Prize," by M.O. Walsh. The talk will take place at the Missouri Photo Workshop Exhibit, a display of work documenting small Missouri towns and telling "truth with a camera."
Rita Reed grew up in St. James, MO, population 3,000. She knew she was gay. Her parents and friends probably knew she was gay, but it was an identity denied.
As she went through the motions of life — high school, college, getting married, becoming a high school history teacher — her sense of self solidified, though it remained in the background. When she came out as gay as a graduate student, she acknowledged the person she had always been. Then, as a photographer for the Star Tribune in the Twin Cities, she created a landmark documentary project about two gay teens. Her personal insights into the challenges they faced, her empathy, patience and understanding of the enormity of what they were going through, enabled her to have complete access to their lives. And inspired her photographs. Her book, "Growing Up Gay: The Sorrows and Joys of Gay and Lesbian Adolescence," was published by Norton in 1997. The first book of its kind, it has opened pathways for untold numbers of gay teens, parents and teachers to understand and affirm the gay teen experience.
You can view the Missouri Photo Workshop Exhibit daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., September 8-30. Find out more about One Read and see a full list of programs here.