Re: Stock Replies to Stock Media: Authentically Queer RelationshipsCreators
June 3, 2021
Re: Stock Replies to Stock Media: Authentically Queer Relationships
An interview series with LGBTQIA+ visual creators & Re: Stock contributors
Re: Stock contributor and Los Angeles-based creator Shannon Beveridge talks about her inspiration for her collection and discusses how learning every day is the key to achieving authenticity in content creation.
What inspired you to get into filmmaking?
My first steps into filmmaking were actually through YouTube and creating my own content. I was inspired to make that content because I felt like the representation for the LGBTQ+ community was lacking. I needed a voice like my own, but that voice did not exist. So I just decided to become that, I guess.
What does representation mean to you?
Representation means everything to me. It is the reason that I am alive today. I think it’s important for people to grow up seeing themselves in media, in all forms of media. Seeing yourself in media helps you get to know who you are and that who you are is okay. It is more than okay. It’s celebrated and beautiful and amazing. Yeah, representation is everything.
Why does representation matter in storytelling and media?
Representation matters in storytelling and media because many of us turn to media for answers and inspiration. And it’s everywhere. You can’t escape it. In 2021, media is everywhere. And if you don’t feel that you are represented in that media, it is really isolating. It can feel like whoever you are, and whatever you think, believe, and feel doesn’t exist outside of your little bubble.
Sometimes it feels like you’re the only person experiencing something when in reality, we know that no one is alone. So it’s so important to have representation in storytelling and media so that people know that they’re not alone. So that people know that they are beautiful, perfect, celebrated, strong, smart, cool, and all the things.
Where do you believe the stock media industry currently lies in regards to representation?
From my personal experience using stock footage and just browsing libraries and stock footage, I would say that the representation is not nearly where it should be. There is a long way to go for representation and it leaves a lot to be desired.
What excited you about this partnership with Storyblocks? Why did you want to participate?
I was so excited to be a part of this project with Storyblocks because stock footage leaves so much to be desired when it comes to representation. I think that this initiative and this idea are so genius. I couldn’t think of a better project to start in 2021, when representation is so important but still lacking.
What’s the theme behind your collection? What inspired the story behind it?
I would say the theme behind my collection with Storyblocks is queer authenticity. I decided to go with real couples and families rather than hiring actors to create this collection because I just wanted it to feel really real. Queer couples, genuine queer couples are so gorgeous and so beautiful, but we just don’t see enough of them. So that was the theme behind my collection.
Creating this collection for me was important, because I feel like I grew up in a time where this content didn’t exist at all. Those faces just weren’t there for me to see or consume. So I spent a lot of my life thinking that I was the only person like me and that I would never have a family because I liked women. Or I thought I had to look a certain way or be a certain way. This collection shows that queer couples look all different kinds of ways. They can include families. They can have kids. Things I genuinely didn’t know when I was a little kid growing up in Dallas, Texas.
During your production, which moments did you feel best captured the nuance and authenticity of your community?
I think that the LGBTQIA+ community is completely underrepresented in media today. And more than that, it’s super stereotyped. We get a few essential characters that we all know and have seen a million times. It’s really rare to get anything outside of that stereotyped character.
Content that shows the intersectionality of the queer community is almost non-existent and leaves so much to be desired. But it’s exciting that companies like Storyblocks, directors, and creators are recognizing that and making that content. There are a lot of actions that need to be taken to ensure that these groups are represented in the media.
But I do think the number one thing that directors and creators can do is to be mindful. Be more mindful that the content that you’re creating is a mirror of the entire world and not just your personal world. I think if we could all do that, we would be taking a big step in the right direction. So much of the content that I’ve made so far have been real people. Real people telling their own stories.
Tell us more about what authenticity means to you. As an artist, how do you maintain authenticity to yourself when completing your work?
I maintain authenticity by learning every day. The advice that I would offer to creators who are trying to make sure that the worlds they’re creating are more authentic is to just look around. Look around at what you see as you walk around day to day and look at your work and ask yourself if you see that in your work. Because if you don’t, then you might need to add a little bit more representation.
My greatest accomplishment and what I’m most proud of in the world that I have created this community of LGBTQIA+ people who are just so thirsty for content. They’re so thirsty for representation. It’s impossible not to recognize that and then want to create more content for them. It means the world to me that they look to me to create that content. So I try my best to be mindful and inclusive when I’m creating. But this last year taught me that my content is not nearly as inclusive as it should be, and I am taking steps to broaden that and be more mindful. Just because I’m a part of the community doesn’t mean that I’m doing it right.
What advice do you offer to creators that are interested in becoming more thoughtful around diversity and representation in their work?
I think we all need to do better. The biggest struggle that the queer community has with media and representation is the stereotypes, and just not seeing ourselves in these characters because they’re so often the same person. The queer community does not look one way. So we should not just have one or two characters that we keep seeing over and over again. If you ever go to a pride parade, then you would know that the queer community looks a million different ways.
I hope that in the future it will get better. I think it’s already getting a little bit better, but those stereotypes are often damaging to people because you can spend your whole life thinking, “I can’t be gay because I’m not like that gay character,” when there are so many different ways to look and be gay or be queer.
How has your lived experience as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community shaped your work for the better?
I think that being a queer person myself helps when it comes to creating authentic characters because I am gay and I’ve also been around a lot of queer people. So when you have authentic relationships with members of a community you’re trying to represent it becomes easier. I can see why some writers and directors struggle with that if they’re not interacting with people that are different than them. So speak to the people you’re trying to tell stories about.
Intersectionality is an important part of representation. What does an intersectional representation of the LGBTQIA+ community look like to you, and how did you incorporate it into your work?
I think intersectional representation for the queer community is so important because the queer community is eclectic, beautiful, and diverse, but we do not get enough of that representation in media. I just try my best to represent the people that I know, have met, or part of my community. But I do think that we all can do a better job of that.
I would love to do a better job of just creating a more intersectional LGBTQIA representation for this queer community that I love. I’m not sure what winning the battle for authenticity and representation for the queer community looks like. I feel like we’re so far behind, that it’s hard to even imagine a world where we’ve won. And even with that not only that, the queer community is so beautiful in that it’s ever-changing, ever-evolving. So I think it will be a battle that we’re always fighting.