email: esnead@pratt.edu
Instagram: @emily_snead

Leviticus 20:13

“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:13)

For some of my family, each meal begins with a prayer and every Sunday begins with church. Since I came out as queer, a rift has been created between them and I that often feels irreparable. Because homophobia is perpetuated and excused through religion, many LGBTQ+ people face conversion therapy, shunning, and eviction at a young age. Allowing hate to hide behind religious freedom leaves a stain on the reputation of faith groups. Now, my own judgement of religion is influenced by my sexuality— just as the opposite is true for many people.

Seeing Bible passages weaponized while still recognizing the beauty in Christian spaces creates a conflict that I explore. I have photographed churches at night to emphasize that some groups of people are not welcome during daylight’s open hours. Interior spaces have not been photographed to reflect my ostracization. Shadows of myself, my tripod, or blurs from moving within the frame create a sense of my impermanence.

Recently, I have spent more time altering the images than taking photographs. I treat the prints with cleaning products like bleach and disinfectant wipes, resulting in their deterioration while allowing me to reclaim the subject. The cleaning products emphasize the narrative that homosexuality is impure and needs to be purged from the community. Perpetuating this narrative or using these products is altering the intended image, turning it into a distorted version of what it should be. Or perhaps the changes I make represent the sullying caused by this sanitation.