USU professor internationally acclaimed for photo display ‘LGBTQ in Utah’

Nov 22, 2022, 6:45 PM | Updated: 7:21 pm

LOGAN, Utah —An Iranian photographer and Utah State University professor is getting some international recognition for a photo display that shows the struggles of being queer in Utah.

Fazilat Soukhakian said events last weekend in Colorado Springs and in Iran added some unexpected meaning to her photo essay.

She said none of those things were going on when she started this project five years ago.

Soukhakian is not queer, which is why she wanted to take her time in trying to understand her subjects.

Her work shows the struggles of being queer.

She said that the symbol of freedom that is the United States may not always paint an accurate picture.

“One of the reasons that I moved to the U.S. because of what I hear from America, land of free right?” she explained.

Soukhakian came to the U.S. in 2011 and moved to Utah in 2015 and didn’t know what to expect.

“I met a couple in Logan, Utah that they both lost their job as a daycare teacher because they’ve been told that, you know, your sexuality had a bad influence,” she said.

It was one of the reasons she started taking the pictures entitled LGBTQ in Utah.

“This was very unbelievable for me,” she said. “To me, it’s very shocking.”

The photos show people who were at times afraid to be who they are.

 Image from Fazilat Soukhakian's online display 'LGBTQ in Utah'. (Fazilat Soukhakian) Image from Fazilat Soukhakian's online display 'LGBTQ in Utah'. (Fazilat Soukhakian) Image from Fazilat Soukhakian's online display 'LGBTQ in Utah'. (Fazilat Soukhakian) Image from Fazilat Soukhakian's online display 'LGBTQ in Utah'. (Fazilat Soukhakian) Image from Fazilat Soukhakian's online display 'LGBTQ in Utah'. (Fazilat Soukhakian) Image from Fazilat Soukhakian's online display 'LGBTQ in Utah'. (Fazilat Soukhakian) Image from Fazilat Soukhakian's online display 'LGBTQ in Utah'. (Fazilat Soukhakian)

Her ten photos have been recognized as one of 50 finalists in the Photolucida, based in Portland, Oregon, which attracts photographers and critics from all over the world.

“But they can’t smile, right? Because they have gone through so much that I wanted to show that. So much a story behind that frame,” she explained.

A sadness in the picture, all the more extreme back in Iran where young people are being executed for protesting in support of women’s rights and where the same can happen for being openly queer.

“And I’m so proud of like, to call myself Iranian at this point that when I see so much bravery for especially young women,” Soukhakian said.

In some ways, she wishes she could be there supporting them. But here in Utah, she said people are showing bravery too – being themselves in the face of culture, religion, and sometimes family and friends.

“How bravely they are actually bringing change,” she said.

LGBTQ in Utah is on display only online. Soukhakian said there will likely be a physical display at USU in the near future.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Shara Park

Memorial set up for woman killed in Provo hit and run

Yellow ribbons lined a Holladay neighborhood Friday in support of a family who lost a loved one in a hit and run crash in Provo.
22 hours ago
Michael Locklear

With so many kids sick, some Utah pharmacies run out of liquid Tylenol, ibuprofen

As parents deal with sick children, some are also facing another challenge. Some common medications can be hard to find, including liquid Tylenol and ibuprofen.
22 hours ago
Mike Anderson

Hardware WMA sleigh rides return after two-year hiatus

For the first time in two years, sleigh rides up the Blacksmith Fork Canyon are back — where families can see herds of elk and get a winter meal.
22 hours ago
Shop small to support local businesses...
Tamara Vaifanua

How shopping small this holiday season makes a big impact at local stores

There’s a big push this holiday season to shop small, as in small business. The locally owned, Tutoring Toy, right off Foothill Boulevard in Salt Lake City, has a lot to offer.
22 hours ago
FILE: Attorney General of Utah Sean Reyes arrives onstage to pre-record his address to the Republic...
Bridger Beal-Cvetko

Qatar paid for Utah AG Sean Reyes’ trip to see U.S. World Cup match

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Qatar, after the Middle Eastern country's government paid for his airfare, lodging and tickets to see the United States and England
22 hours ago
Orem school crossing...
Ladd Egan

Orem plans temporary traffic signal at intersection where student, crossing guard hit

Temporary traffic signals could soon be installed at the intersection where an elementary school student and a crossing guard were hit this week, according to the city engineer for Orem.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
USU professor internationally acclaimed for photo display ‘LGBTQ in Utah’