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"I’m a forensic photographer. I take pictures of dead people. People are like lawnmowers. Some people sharpen the blade, some people don’t. Some people let it get really rusty in there."
2 of 23
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"What do you want to be when you grow up?" "An artist. I mostly do masks, cats and trees."
3 of 23
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"I had a bacterial infection when I was two that turned into gangrene. People don’t believe all the things I can do. Like write. I have some of the best handwriting in my class." She put her arms together to show me how she would hold a pencil or pen. "Are you in school?" "Well I just finished medical school to become a medical assistant." Just then she got a phone call, swiped open the touch screen and effortlessly held the phone up to her ear. I waited patiently as she tried to work out some logistics with a family member. "That was my grandma. She’s on her way to pick me up and take me to my dance studio." "You dance?" "Yeah, you should come to my performance." I told her I would absolutely love to.
4 of 23
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"I grew up in a very traditional Laotian household where gender roles were very clearly defined. Men were dominant and women were submissive. To cross gender lines was very taboo. When I was a child I was aware that I was different, but my mother was ill so most of my concerns were with her. As I got older I found ways of expressing myself through musical theater and dance. When I moved here a year and a half ago I started my transition to living as a woman 24/7. I find that I’m so much happier.”
5 of 23
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"I’m moving away from Portland. Too cold and too many ex-boyfriends."
6 of 23
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"I used to do drag shows. But don’t call me a drag queen, it sounds trashy. I was a female illusionist."
7 of 23
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“People assume that if you can talk, you can hear. But I am deaf with a capital D. I have Muniere’s Disease, which made me go deaf six years ago. I taught myself how to sign and to read lips, but my family and friends don’t know how to sign, and people tend to turn their heads away while they are talking so I can’t see them when they talk. I mostly hang out in the deaf community.” We were so engaged in conversation that suddenly her bus had arrived and I realized I hadn’t taken her picture. I scrambled to take the photo, hardly looking through the viewfinder. She gestured toward me and said, “I want you to take my picture like this!”
8 of 23
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"If you really wanna see somethin’ you should take a picture of me topless. I look like Adonis."
9 of 23
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"We definitely annoy each other but we’re also friends. It’s more fun than being alone."
10 of 23
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“Ask me what my nationality is.” "What is your nationality?" "Haida Tribe. But I was adopted and raised by white people. People called me a nigger when I was growing up." His body shook after he spoke.
11 of 23
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"I had our three babies via c-section, and when they pulled those babies out, I couldn’t move, so he was the first one to hold them. He sang the same song to each of our boys in their ears, ‘Come Into My Heart, Lord Jesus."
12 of 23
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"It was on my bucket list of things to do before I die: go to a book store dressed up like Belle from Beauty and the Beast."
13 of 23
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"I’m struggling with PTSD. I was in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and I have trouble sleeping at night. I get really startled if someone comes up behind me. Sometimes if I hear a loud noise I drop to the ground and look for my weapon.” "If you were able to go back and make the decision over again, would you have made a different choice about serving?" "I don’t know. I don’t think so, because if I hadn’t served, then some of my friends who did come home wouldn’t have made it."
14 of 23
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"My wife and I foster 4 adult males with disabilities in our home. It’s rewarding and challenging. As a caregiver you constantly have to check yourself to make sure you’re doing what’s best for them, while also taking time for yourself. I’m in school, too, and it’s difficult to balance both roles. It’s going to take me longer to finish, but you know, I chose to take on this role, and I own that."
15 of 23
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"I’m a rapper."
16 of 23
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"I was sexually assaulted when I was 17. I was drugged and nearly choked to death. That’s how I lost my virginity. But the physical trauma didn’t impact me as much as the emotional trauma. The worst part was, a while later I had saved up $400 to go to this oceanography program I was excited about and my dad tore up the check and said, ‘You could’ve gone if you weren’t being such a whore.’"
17 of 23
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"I’ve been married three times and widowed three times. The first two died when I was overseas and the third died in a car accident along with our child. I found out later that I have another daughter. My family knew about her but my father chose not to tell me because he knew I would’ve quit serving in order to come back. Single parenting in the military wasn’t supported at the time. But now my daughter and I live together along with her son, who is about to turn 12. When she asked me to move in with her, I told her I needed some time to think about it. I told her, ‘You know, we get along pretty well right now, but I don’t know about living under one roof together.’ But, we haven’t chewed each other out or beaten each other up, so I think things are going pretty well."
18 of 23
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"It’s a letter from my husband. He’s incarcerated. This is just full of laughs and smiles."
19 of 23
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"Right at this moment, I’m trying not to yell at my coworkers. That’s why I came out here right now — to take a break. Because, does this really fucking matter? In the grand scheme of things? No, it does not. "
20 of 23
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"People have a lot of unexamined ideas about spirituality and religion. If you were to ask someone about their beliefs they would probably respond with a set of rituals that makes them feel comfortable."
21 of 23
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"The happiest moment of my life was when my oldest daughter was born. I was rushing to the hospital and I got there just in time to see her be born. And we are still like this (he made a hand gesture with his pointer and middle fingers together). We see each other every. single. day.”
22 of 23
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"Look at the boots I just bought!! I just put ‘em on because I’m such a total geek. But what I do, is I go in there and I’m like, I need some fuckin’ boots, man! I’ve been a dad for 75 years, all I know is the real boring shit. These are a Can-You-Tell-I’m-in-the-Middle-of-a-Divorce boot."
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"Thank you for the photo, this boosted my spirits. I was feeling pretty down."
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