Serbian photographer Slobodan Randjelovic regretted he was unable to bring the LGBTQ subjects of his portraits to the launch of his traveling exhibit.
"As you can imagine getting a U.S. Visa these days, as a LGBTQ person, many of whom without a permanent job or fixed income or real estate is not easy." He paused, his voice low and steady. "Maybe next time I'll do a better job of bringing them here."
"I just wish I could present them to you to make them more real," Randjelovic continued. "Often when we look at these kind of photographs, it's easy to forget these are real people."
Randjelovic's photographs do feel real. Most are photojournalistic in nature: a quiet moment between partners lying together in bed. A silly moment among a family cooking dinner. A stern stance at a pride parade. All of Randjelovic's photos feel vaguely familiar because widely relatable. The quotes paired with the subjects offer insight to the specific struggles of being transgender in Serbia, a country where LGBTQ citizens are not offered the same rights and legal protections as heterosexual couples.
"They are real," Randjelovic said of his subjects. "Currently all of them exist somewhere in Serbia, and many of them are still struggling to survive discrimination, abuse, poverty, substance abuse, visibility, poor or no access to health care, [and] broken family relationships."