The OPEN BOOK PROJECT
The Open Book Project is a documentary project that will be completed in a set of multiple international chapters. A visual exploration of LGBT+ people and communities all over the world. A coming of age story, the way a child finds themselves in a world that wants them to stay hidden, and how access to the diverse and protective LGBTQ+ community aids in this unimaginably difficult feat. LGBTQ+ people come in all forms, all colors of the rainbow, and from all over the world, they can't be crammed into a stereotype, but they all have one thing in common: they have had to learn to love themselves and to love others in a world where society's standard of love and expectation for "normality" doesn't include them.
A project by Morgan Melamed and Alexandra Schmelzer
alexandra ann schmelzer
Alexandra Schmelzer (Lexie) is a Boulder, Colorado native who is attending The Maryland Institute College of Art where she is studying film production and gender studies. Her whole life, she surrounded herself with people that knew love wasn't defined by social norms, but she didn't get involved in the LGBTQ+ community until she met people that really showed her not only the strength and joy in it, but the need for support. At the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Tampa, Florida in 2015, Lexie found herself in the LGBTQ+ affinity group and she developed a profound interest and passion for protecting and fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
Morgan ann melamed
Morgan Melamed grew up attending Hebrew School just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota and moved to Colorado at age 13. She took a year off of school before attending the Evergreen State College in Washington where she's studying film, but focusing on human sexuality and (hopefully someday) getting a teaching degree. She has identified with the LGBT+ community since 7th grade, eventually creating a Gay Straight Alliance and interning with the LGBTQ+ branch of the Boulder County Public Health Department in high school. She attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Indianapolis in 2014 and Tampa in 2015 and had life changing experiences that inspired her to always be an active participant in the culture around her. Throughout her life, Morgan has had a passion for experiencing new things, taking risks, and making the most of life. Human connections and the diversity of cultures are at the core of her beliefs.
Morgan and Lexie
Despite attending the same high school (of merely 500 students) for four years, Morgan and Lexie did not become friends until they traveled all the way to Florida for SDLC in December of 2015. They passed each other in the hall almost every day and heard just about every rumor about the other person that there was to hear and, because of this, they assumed they knew each other well enough. Actually getting to know each other for the first time in the middle of their senior year, they realized that they had a lot more in common than they'd ever thought; sharing passions for people, human rights, traveling, film production, and even the 90's sitcom 'Friends'. Their friendship fused almost instantly and was strengthened by the opportunity to travel to Italy together just three months later. Now; they plan to see many more places together in the future. While the things they have in common fostered a close friendship, what makes it great are their differences. Throughout high school Morgan set aside her passion for film to lead the Gay Straight Alliance, while Lexie did the inverse, heading the film club. This project brings their different strengths and weaknesses into balance and is fueled by a shared desire to make a difference and a complete disregard for any realistic limitations.
Chapter 1: Make america gay again
In the harsh reality that is the United States current political climate, life for LGBT+ youth is becoming more and more frightening. The government in its efforts is yet again trying to strip LGBT people of their hard-earned rights. In the US chapter of The Open Book Project, we will be exploring the individual lives of LGBT youth all over the country, from the worst to the best climates for acceptance. We will see both sides - the opinions, stories, and realities of the LGBT people and communities, to the opinions and goals of right wing conservatives, Westboro picketers, and Oklahoma football players. Most of all, we will see the immense importance of access to the LGBT community with all it's youth centers, churches, and even drag bars in the toughest southern states. Making people see that this community that the government is trying to restrict access to in the US, is what makes that terrifying number of LGBT suicides go down.
We completed the first East Coast part of our trip, March 3rd - April 5th, 2017, and visited:
- Topeka and Wichita, Kansas
- Dallas and Austin, Texas
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Cullowhee, North Carolina
- Abingdon, Virginia
- Washington, D.C.
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Boston, Massachusetts
- New York, New York
- Chicago, Illinois
We are currently planning a West Coast trip.
Travel with us on our US journey