Roaming Photo-Story Exhibit Brings ‘Acceptance Journeys Pittsburgh’ to Campus

By: Allison Hydzik


A free exhibit called “Acceptance Journeys Pittsburgh” will be popping up throughout the University of Pittsburgh campus over the next several weeks, spreading a message of love and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Conducted by the Department of Infectious Disease and Microbiology at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, the exhibit is a part of Pitt’s “Year of the Humanities” and addresses LGBT stigma through science, the humanities and social marketing. The university-wide event will be featured in eight different campus locations between now and April 1, featuring high-quality photos and stories of LBGT Pittsburghers and the families and friends who love and accept them. It showcases the ways that diverse academic fields can contribute to social change and reduce negative health outcomes.“I expect that this moving exhibit will spark conversations across campus and throughout the community about the effect of stigma on health, particularly infectious disease prevention and care in marginalized populations,” said Sarah Krier, Ph.D., M.P.H., Acceptance Journeys program director and research specialist with the HIV Prevention and Care Project at Pitt Public Health. “Our focus is on sharing photos and stories of acceptance, primarily of LGBT people of color, and their friends and family. By disseminating these stories throughout the community, we’re countering stigma and normalizing acceptance.”

Research shows that stigma and discrimination create conditions that encourage violence against certain people, keeping them isolated and afraid in their communities. Stigma prevents people from accessing information, finding support and seeking medical care. LGBT people are often stigmatized, particularly young black men who have sex with men. Black LGBT youth in Pittsburgh are at increased risk for HIV, drug and alcohol use, violence, victimization, stress and other health conditions.

Acceptance Journeys was started in Milwaukee and was launched in Pittsburgh in 2014. After several successful campaigns, including billboards across Pittsburgh and a gallery at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Main Branch, this latest Acceptance Journeys Pittsburgh event will examine the processes behind the project and the many ways it relies on and is relevant to an array of academic disciplines.

“At each site we’ll have opportunities for students, faculty and staff to share their impressions and thoughts on the images, stories and topics they deal with,” said Dr. Krier. “It will be so interesting to see the differences and commonalities among the exhibit sites. I wonder what unique thoughts visitors at Pitt Public Health might have compared with those at the O’Hara Student Center.”

On Monday, April 7, to mark the conclusion of the exhibit, there will be a panel discussion that includes the specialists who have worked with the project, coming from a wide array of backgrounds, including journalism, psychology, public health, anthropology, marketing and women’s studies.

Acceptance Journeys Pittsburgh schedule

  • Today through April 1: Posvar Hall Main Gallery
  • Today  through April 1: Hillman Library Café (rotating exhibit)
  • Today through April 1: Parran Hall Atrium & 3rd Floor Lounge (rotating exhibit)
  • Today through  March 10: Health Sciences Library
  • March 14 – April 1: O’Hara Student Center
  • April 7, 11:30 a.m.: Panel Discussion, Humanities Center, 6th Floor of the Cathedral of Learning