In a project to celebrate LGBT+ History Month, the renowned photographer Chris Jepson has partnered with the John Lewis Partnership, for part of a series exploring identity in the queer community.
Partners (employees) at John Lewis and Waitrose posed for portraits by Chris, which will be displayed in bespoke exhibitions throughout the year.
The event to launch the Identity Project, JLP Edition, will take place on Friday 9th February at John Lewis Oxford Street, and is set to be attended by revered guests including Peter Tatchell, Activist, Co-founder of the GLF & Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Also expected to be in attendance is Professor Emeritus Sue Sanders of the Harvey Milk Institute, who is a co-founder of LGBT+ History Month, as well as Polly Shute, co-founder of Out and Wild Festival and former organiser of Pride in London, and actor, singer and trans icon Mzz Kimberley.
The collaboration was set up by Pride in the Partnership – the John Lewis Partnership’s internal LGBTQIA+ network, after a Partner was involved in one of Chris’ earlier photoshoots for the series.
Speaking of the series, Chris said: “I started the Identity Project in 2019 to create a community portrait and redress the visual narrative that LGBTQIA+ people look a certain way. By exhibiting our portraits and stories in public locations I am hoping to improve community cohesion through making visible the depth and similarities in the identities we share, but also to give young queer people role models to look up to to counter the constant need to be perfect that social media often promotes.
“This exclusive JLP Edition is a unique collaboration that celebrates the diversity within the John Lewis Partnership by capturing the portraits and stories of its LGBTQIA+ Partners. It spotlights the rich tapestry of identities within the organisation, emphasising the diverse, inclusive and supportive environment fostered by the Partnership.
“Many organisations have LGBTQIA+ employee networks, but I think it is brilliant that the John Lewis Partnership has gone one step further to celebrate their people and put them front and centre in a public exhibition for LGBT+ History Month.”
Damian Peters, comms and events lead for the retailers’ Pride in the Partnership network, added: “We’re a big fan of Chris’ work – and the Identity Project has unearthed some interesting perspectives from our community, as well as providing an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ Partners to come together.
“When we were introduced by one of our team, we jumped at the chance to work with him – and there was a great response from across the business. It’s just one of the ways we’re celebrating our LGBTQIA+ colleagues during LGBT+ History Month.”
The Identity Project exhibition will be available for the public to visit from Saturday 10th February until the end of the month, at the Events Space in John Lewis’ Oxford Street store and online at Proud-Studios.co.uk/JLP.