Trauma of coming out expressed in Hackney photographic exhibition for LGBT month

Ethnic minorities spoke to photographer Sonalle about their experiences of coming out

‘Coming out’ can often be stressful and traumatic – but for those from an ethnic minority, the experience can be even harder.

Being forced into a mental institution by your own family, being chased out of the family home with a meat cleaver and going into exile because of death threats are some of the stories told through photographic exhibition Ethnic Minorities Coming Out.

The photographs are on display in Hackney Museum for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) month in February.

Through the combination of powerful imagery and quotes from the Jamaican, Indian, Palestinian and Jewish participants, photographer Sonalle delves into the complexities of how ethnic minority lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people reveal their sexual orientation for the first time.

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Sonalle, who is British-born of Indian descent, said: “The shame aspect of things is very powerful in ethnic minorities.

“You don’t’ want to shame your family, so you do things to keep the family reputation, it’s difficult to resist that, and to be able to say, “I’m not doing that,” you end up having confrontation - and if you are close to your family that can be quite traumatic,

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One Palestinian woman she interviewed fled her country after her friend told her family she is a lesbian, as she could be killed by her family or political organisation HAMAS if she remained.

“Some people can resent this, they can think, “Why am I gay? Why am I LGBT?” It makes their lives so much more difficult.

“I think if you are thinking of coming out, it’s important to have some kind of support from an organisation or friends, so if something does go wrong, if you are rejected, you have support to carry on.”

The exhibition is on display in Hackney Museum in Reading Lane, Hackney Central until March 5. For more information see

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