Steven Romeo, MPA. Age 27. Pronouns: They/Them
Steven Romeo is the founder, executive director and primary artist for The Change Project based in Birmingham, Ala. Their work was recognized by The White House in November of 2015 as an LGBT Artist Champion of Change. The Change Project is an arts and storytelling organization that seeks to transform discrimination against all LGBTQ people into acceptance through the art of photography, social media campaigns, educational resources and partnerships with social justice organizations.
Steven’s first fine art installation is “Our Bodies. Our Lives,” which engages viewers to consider what LGBTQ people want to be called versus the labels that society places on them. Steven currently studies at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), working towards their master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus in non-profit management. While at UAB, Steven served as the first LGBTQ Student Affairs professional with 100% of their job description devoted to LGBTQ work. In this role they built the foundation of LGBTQ programming at UAB, and is currently writing his masters thesis which assesses the campus climate for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff at UAB.
In 2012, when artist and director of The Change Project, Steven Romeo was conceptualizing what The Change Project's artwork should look like, they were always drawn to the idea that queer people should be called what they want to be called. In the first draft of the Embody Progress collection, participants were asked to share a word they most identified with, in addition to the Change picture. Once they moved to the open shoot model, however, this idea went away. Over the past year they began to play with powder paint and combine the original identity word concept to a new collection called Our Bodies. Our Lives. A conversation that has been missing in the movement for LGBTQ equality is one around humanizing queer people. Not assimilationism, but the idea that queer people are humans and should be treated as such while acknowledging that each is unique in their own identity. In addition, language that is currently used to define queer folks is often negative, and centered around sex and deviance. This collection focuses on queer people claiming words that they want to be called, and sharing that with the larger Southeast community.
Steven got their start in organizing with Relay for Life as a freshman at C. Leon King High School, where they graduated with an International Baccalaureate Degree, and received the honor of Coca-Cola Foundation National Scholar. While in high school, they were heavily involved with their church group and Invisible Children. Steven then went to the University of Alabama for undergrad and came out as gay for the first time in a fraternity. Upon coming out, they were shunned by their fellow brothers and began their exploration of progressive organizing. They were selected as a Young People For (YP4) fellow and launched the first safe space program at a local Birmingham high school. After being a fellow, Steven returned to YP4 as a blueprint reader, trainer, mentor, selection committee member and Alumni Board Member.
Upon graduating college, Steven began a gap year of self-discovery. This year led them to come out as genderqueer in a professional working environment and build The Change Project from the ground up. Their journey as an innovator begins here. Using art as the medium for creating conversation around LGBTQ equality was a new concept for most they encountered.
Now Steven is in their last semester of graduate school and will complete their thesis work in May of this year. They are working on several new fine art collections and campaigns that will be released throughout this year. They are available for booking.