M. Sharkey is an award winning portrait photographer and filmmaker living in NYC. He began his “Queer Kids” project in 2006 not long after Time Magazine published “The Battle Over Gay Teens: What happens when you come out as a kid?” as the issue of gay youth was beginning to gain national attention. Sharkey’s editors at Getty were among the first people to support the project; knowing it would have legs, they provided a producer to liaise between Sharkey and kids at youth organizations across the US.
By 2010 he had photographed gay and bisexual teens in several states, and aCurator, my online photo mag, had published a series. By 2011 the project was picking up steam with multiple editorial features here and abroad.
When French magazine “Be” contacted the Paris office of Getty about hiring Sharkey for an assignment to photograph “hipsters,” Sharkey and the writer became good buddies; it turned out her father owns a gallery in Perpignan, and in 2012 Queer Kids had its debut in Perpignan, coinciding with Visa Pour L’Image. An organization in Brussels learned about Queer Kids from the exhibition’s press release, leading to an artist residency for Sharkey to show the series so far and to make a new body of work in Belgium. These photographs are themselves being exhibited now at Rainbow House in Brussels.
Meanwhile a feature in Time Lightbox had drawn the attention of the production director at Getty’s Paris office, Marie Borrel, who followed the project closely and when she was tasked with finding just three photographers to show at la Nuit de l’Année at Rencontres d’Arles this year, she selected “Queer Kids.” In July, the work will be projected alongside 8 other photographers on 14 screens around town.
Sharkey travels to exhibit and speak about the series. He is applying for grants and will go on to make portraits in Europe (especially Eastern) as well as Asia and South America.
© M. Sharkey