Harvey Milk was famous for, among other things, imploring gay people to come out. Milk knew the power of visibility. He's not alone.
That's not always easy, though. Sometimes the world outside the closet is too terrifying. Other times, it may simply not be easy to be visible, to stand out with your story. Maybe your visibility has been buried by history. Then again, perhaps it's more a technical question of how to best present you.
However we think about being out, being visible, we know it's important. So do the people highlighted in this story, presented this Valentine's Day as a reminder that what sets gay people apart is how they love – or lust – whether single or coupled or other.
When Amanda Lucidon and her husband made the decision to move back East from California, the motivation was to be near family. That she'd been working as a photojournalist for the Riverside Press-Enterprise didn't hurt, in that D.C. offers up photo-worthy news on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
(Photo by Brack Lewis)
What Lucidon couldn't have foreseen is the families she would connect with aside from her own. It began with the fanfare of the first legal same-sex weddings in D.C.
''I went out there because I knew it was a big news event,'' recalls Lucidon, who studied photography and journalism, and has since picked up audio and video skills. Photographing same-sex newlyweds led her to another same-sex wedding, and to one couple in particular.
''That's where I met Amy and Alex,'' she says of that mass wedding March 20, 2010. ''I talked with them and said I'd like to follow them through the first year of their marriage, do a story on them. That was when I actually started doing the research and found out there are 1,138 rights associated with marriage. That's when I realized it was a much bigger story than I had originally anticipated.''
The story was so big, in fact, it became a project: The Legal Stranger Project. Initially, Lucidon imagined the project as a slideshow with audio. It's grown to include short films and plans for a feature documentary, along with the still photographs and audio recordings. The project has also been honored by the White House News Photographers Association with its 2012 first-place award for Best Multimedia Innovation. And it has expanded its scope to include more couples.
''There was no way I could ever tell a story about all 1,138 rights. So, how do I find a way to explore a lot of them? That was through several couples who have distinct challenges in those certain categories.''
Lucidon is looking at immigration rights and tax disparity. As she's followed Alex and Amy, parenting has become part of the story.
Her examination of same-sex families in the military, however, just took a painful turn. Lucidon has been documenting the particular struggles faced by Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a member of the New Hampshire National Guard, and her wife, Karen Morgan. She has documented the couple's fight for military spousal benefits, still largely denied despite the end of ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'' and Charlie Morgan's battle with breast cancer, which ended with her death Feb. 10, Karen at her side.
''Some of the stories definitely take a lot out of you,'' Lucidon shared three days prior. ''But there's balance to them. Like every story in life, there are happy and sad moments. Like with Charlie, she's been given six months to live, and that was eight months ago. It's sad to know that her life may be ending, but then I see her playing with her daughter, the way they interact and how joyful Charlie is for the moments she has here. That's really inspiring.''
In that spirit, Lucidon pushes on with her multiplatform documentary, as her subjects change, as laws change, and as Lucidon herself changes.
''That's what documentary photography and filmmaking is all about: just making yourself present for these things to unfold. You just try your best to keep up with everything. I don't know how the stories end. I kind of just let the stories let me know when they're finished.''
Visit The Legal Strangers Project online at legalstranger.com.
In 1966, photographer Marie Cosindas captured a seductive image of two shirtless male sailors posing in cozy, close quarters: one reclining sideways and open-legged on a rug, the other crouched close behind. It's not a gay photo per se, and Cosindas didn't even think it homoerotic when Allen Ellenzweig approached her for permission to include it in his landmark 1992 book The Homoerotic Photograph. But to most viewers today, and especially those who are gay, the image is incredibly suggestive. And that's true even before you learn its title: ''Sailors, Key West.''
The Homoerotic Photograph
''Things that might have seemed quite innocent 50, 60, 100 years ago,'' explains Ellenzweig, ''we can appreciate that they were innocent in their time, but we are not as innocent.''
An even older example offers still more proof: Thomas Eakins's late-19th century famous series The Swimming Hole, which features nude male students frolicking. In our post-Freudian era, Ellenzweig says, ''We can't look at a bunch of men naked without wondering, 'What might have happened when they were together? Was there intimacy among them?'''
In his book, Ellenzweig writes that ''pictures dealing with the emotional or sexual exchange between men have found expression in every epoch of photography's development.'' He adds that since the birth of the art form in mid-19th century France, ''the homoerotic photograph has been pervasive,'' even if it was subtle or unrecognized in its time.
(Photo by Steven Haas)
Today, homoerotic photography is more pervasive – and commercial – than ever, according to the New York-based freelance cultural critic, who gave a talk on the subject last week at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. ''Now, it's everywhere,'' he says. ''It's in our advertising, it's in our fashion photography, it's in our rock and roll. You name it, you can't get away from the sexualized image of a man, or men.'' Nude women, of course, have been everywhere in photography since its inception. This is both a reflection of our patriarchal society as well as the fact that the majority of photographs, up until at least the 20th century, were made by and for men who, Ellenzweig writes, ''had no interest in seeing themselves viewed as the object of erotic fantasy.''
In 2012, Columbia University Press reissued Ellenzweig's book in paperback, though they didn't ask him to revise or update its content. ''It's exactly the book it was 20 years ago,'' he explains, adding with a laugh, ''except they allowed me to update my author's photo.''
Obviously, a lot has changed in the decades since The Homoerotic Photograph first appeared, not least of which is the increasing visibility and acceptance of LGBT people and images in the mainstream of American society. That is definitely having an impact on the changing face of homoeroticism.
''If I were to revise the book,'' says Ellenzweig, ''I would have to do a completely new couple of last chapters to try to get at all the different kinds of ways homoeroticism now is used in our culture, including the commercial.''
The Homoerotic Photograph is available for sale at bookstores and online at Amazon.com.
According to an employment application for the organization, "conviction of a crime" is not an automatic disqualifying factor, but being an "avowed homosexual" or atheist is.
After two men are murdered, at least one lawmaker asks gay men to use caution when hooking up.
Tsakopoulos told Greek Reporter that the former Secretary of State will run for President in 2016, putting an end to speculation over whether Clinton will make a second bid for President that has been circulating around the internet and international media.
âHillary will be our next President and she will be a great one,â Tsakopoulos said at a private gala in California this past weekend.
Asked if this was confirmed by Clinton or whether itâs his personal view, he replied, âI talk to her husband, and he confirmed it. She will run.â
Barack Obama used his first State of the Union address of his second term in office to address at least one gay rights issue. In Monday’s address, Obama promised to âensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families â" gay and straight.â Politicos say that as a second term president, [...]
Hugh Jackman is, once again, denying rumors that he is gay and now admits he’s frustrated. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Jackman says the gay rumors is a bit more bothered by gay rumors than he previously admitted, but he says it affects his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, even more. âJust recently, it bugs [...]
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Whether this is serious or satire, it is hilarious.Â After performing artist Jason Dottley posted it on Facebook, I had to share!Â I don’t know about you, but I want to go to their church!
The post Jesus is my nigga rap, serious or satire? [video] appeared first on GaySocialites.com: More Than Just Gay News for Gay Men....
On Valentine’s Day, three of the biggest names in New York nightlife are coming together to launch a new weekly party called “Boys Night Out” at the Ritz. Peppermint, Cazwell and Steve Sidewalk will kick off their new Thursday night party which features two dance floors, drink specials and a crew of go-go dancers featuring [...]
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Will the State of the Union go gay on Tuesday night as Barack Obama addresses both branches of Congress and the country?Â There is a lot of speculation that the president might make an historic move and call for the advancement in gay rights. The Huffington Post Gay Voices’ Lila Shapiro asks, Will he talk [...]
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