Young boys preening in front of mirrors putting on makeup, picking flowers in skirts, and prancing in heels and dresses at a talent show: all these are depicted in controversial photoessay, featured on Slate this week, documenting an annual summer camp for gender confused boys. The images are drawing praise from gay activists, and criticisms from pro-family leaders.
For the last three years, photographer Lindsay Morris has attended the four-day-long camp for “gender variant” boys from 6 to 16 and their families held in an undisclosed location in New England. Morris refers to the camp by the pseudonym “Camp ‘You Are You,’” although her description of the camp closely matches the one given on the website for Camp Aranu’tiq for “transgender” boys, which was featured last year in the Boston Globe, and which makes campers and visitors sign a confidentiality agreement. According to the Globe, it is the only camp of its kind in America.
Morris, who recently published the photoessay on her website, told Slate that the camp is aimed at “parents who don’t have a gender-confirming 3-year-old who wants to wear high heels and prefers to go down the pink aisle in K-Mart and not that nasty dark boys’ aisle.”
She said that the fashion show was one of the highlights of the camp, and something that many boys and their families worked to prepare for all year. “Some … create their own gowns with their mothers or friends of the family,” Morris said. “The focus and enthusiasm is really pretty incredible.”
But Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council in Washington D.C., told the Christian Post that he fears well-meaning parents may be doing more harm than good by bringing their boys into an environment that reinforces and celebrates their gender confusion.