As a child actor, iO Tillett Wright turned his shoes around in the bathroom stall so that people would think he was a boy. As a teenager, he fell in love with both women and men. His life in the gray areas of gender and sexuality deeply inform his work as an artist.

Why you should listen

iO Tillett Wright thanks his parents for not asking him to define himself as a child. His experience of growing up without having check boxes like “female,” “male,” “gay” or straight” thoroughly infuses his art.

iO’s photography can be seen regularly in two features in The New York Times: Notes from the Underground and The Lowdown. He is also the creator of Self Evident Truths—an ongoing project to document the wide variety of experiences in LGBTQ America. So far, he has photographed about 2,000 people for the project. His goal: 10,000 portraits and a nationwide rethinking of discriminatory laws.

iO had his first solo show at Fuse gallery in New York City in 2010, and exhibited his work at The Hole Gallery in early summer of 2012. He has published three books of photographs; Lose My Number, KISSER, and Look Ma’, No Hands. He has directed several music videos, and spent nineteen years acting in films.

What others say

“Photographer iO Tillett Wright has shot everyone from Olivia Thirlby to Iggy Pop, but since 2010 she has focused her lens on average Americans, taking simple portraits of anyone who identifies as somewhere along the LGBTQ spectrum.” — Elle Magazine

iO Tillett Wright’s TED talk

More news and ideas from iO Tillett Wright

We humans

We’re not so different after all

July 1, 2014

iO Tillett Wright is currently 5,519 portraits into a mission to point out that we're all, at heart, the same. Her goal: to photograph 10,000 people around the United States who identify as being something other than 100% heterosexual. Here's just a small sample of her powerful photographs.

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How should we talk about transgender issues?

March 31, 2014

Geena Rocero did a pretty bold thing at TED2014: She came out. The transgender fashion model chose Vancouver to reveal to the world that she was assigned male at birth. “I am here exposed … to help others live without shame and terror,” she says in today’s talk. The trans community has had a spotlight […]

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