In 2020, Candrian, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, began interviewing and photographing LGBTQ women ages 59-85 to better understand their health disparities in palliative care, palliative care, OB care /GYN and assisted living. This project is part of his ongoing professional research, which is published in places like The Journal of Women and Aging, The gerontologist and The Journal of Palliative Medicinee.
“Personally, it’s a community that I’m a part of and I’ve experienced some of these effects…I want to do something about it,” she explained. “And I think for a professional reason, it’s also my career.”
The result of her project is a series of portrait photographs, all taken by Candrian, accompanied by quotes from nearly three dozen women sharing their fears, experiences and thoughts.
Beneath a photo of Jude, an 80-year-old geologist, said, “I denied myself for 40 years. The next 40, I became who I am. Now I have a life to live.
Another read: “We have been totally open. If we act like we’re half ashamed of it, then people won’t accept it wholeheartedly.” Gillian, 78 years old.
“They didn’t want to shut up but these photos, I think, are a way to give them a voice and an even stronger voice,” Candrian explained. “I think the voice that these images give them is that ‘we have a life worth living.'” According to her, these women took the risk of breaking their silence and coming out as themselves.
“Photos helped me take it to another level to really be able to make sense of it,” Candrian said. “And I think that’s been the most important thing is that research is so important, science is so important, but we’re losing the individual behind it.”
Candrian believes that while conditions have improved overall, hurtful stigmas and assumptions about the LGBTQ community prevent LGBTQ seniors from obtaining proper care and humanity as they age — a practice that is not only unfair, but extremely harmful. And often, it’s easy to forget the person behind the stats.
“We know that there are actually real health effects for older LGBT communities, such as heart disease, certain cancers, anxiety, and even suicide,” Candrian explained. “So we know these things exist and they’re not getting much better… We have good research to show that these disparities exist. But we’re not doing much to actually do anything about it.
And Candrian hopes her photographs will leave a positive and lasting impact on those who view them and change conversations about the aging LGBTQ community.
“They are very good people who want the same things that you want, that other people want. They want to love. They want to be loved,” Candrian said. “And why I think we continue to make it so hard for people to be who they are is not fair. And I think my hope is that when they see these photos, they realize that these are their friends, these are their family members, these are their colleagues, these are their neighbors.
“Eye to Eye” is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Victoria Carodine is the Digital Content Producer for Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at [email protected].
Brian Willie is head of content production at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at [email protected].