Charlemont Forum, school partner to host virtual program with photographer




Staff Writer

Published: 10-10-2023 10:11 AM

CHARLEMONT — The Charlemont Forum has teamed up with The Academy at Charlemont to host a special fall event over Zoom.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m., the two organizations will host photographer Jesse Freidin, who is presenting his newest exhibit titled “Are You OK?” The exhibit documents trans youth and their supportive families who are living in states facing anti-trans legislation.

“I would say this is a great opportunity for anyone who has trans youth in their life, and they hope to support them or learn about how they can be a more supportive ally,” said Katherine Anderson, a member of the Charlemont Forum Committee and admissions director at The Academy at Charlemont.

The exhibit features portraits depicting people from more than half the states in America.

“Through on-screen images, audio interviews and moving personal narratives, Jesse will spark a thoughtful and emotional dialogue about trans rights, who is most at risk, and how your community can become more welcoming and effective allies,” an event flyer reads. “This presentation uses storytelling to uncover themes of strength, joy and survival, and encourages the audience to reflect on their own commitment to social justice.”

Freidin lives in Northampton and has worked as a professional photographer for the past 15 years. He focuses his attention on elevating the experiences of the trans community through portraiture and interviews. Freidin’s work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Inside Edition and more. He is also the author of two books, “Finding Shelter: Portraits of Love, Healing and Survival” (Lyons Press, 2017) and “When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them” (Lerner Books, 2021).

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Anderson noted that Charlemont Forum organizers have been “excited to draw in a younger audience and partner with local schools.” The Academy at Charlemont students, meanwhile, are excited to join conversations about issues the transgender community faces. The school has a popular gender and sexuality alliance and an active social justice council that students take part in as extracurricular activities.

More information about the event and the Zoom link can be found at

“We are excited to bring this to our immediate community as well as folks in the surrounding area,” Anderson said. “Students will be home and settled in with their families. It’s a good time for everyone to log in and attend.”

Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or