First Comes Love

“First Comes Love” offers a glimpse into the “everyday” lives of LGBTQ couples who have been in their relationships for 10, 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years. Unlike the stereotypical picture painted by the media, these portraits and stories seek to educate those who question, celebrate those who have loving, devoted relationships, and provide an historical record of the strength of this community. I have photographed and recorded diverse LGBTQ couples and created an expressive portrait that captures the depth, seriousness, and love between two people who have made a commitment to one another. The portraits are presented in black and white to counter the prevailing characterization of homosexuality that depicts nothing more than images of drag queens, gay pride parades, and rainbow flags. The essence of this community goes much deeper than those clichéd images suggest, and this project intends to show the human side of these long-standing relationships—something the world very much needs to see. Yes, these couples are “over the rainbow” in love, but these portraits, by being in black and white, compel the viewer to look into the true nature of these relationships. In a tender touch or an intimate gaze, these couples reveal their deep-seated emotions. In many ways, gay relationships are no different than heterosexual ones, yet each is unique, in and of itself. My subjects live “ordinary” lives made extraordinary by their having endured society’s discriminatory attitudes and policies, all the while facing the day-to-day struggles typical of any long-term relationship.

The “First Comes Love” Project is a traveling exhibition of photographs, stories, and video and now a hardbound book. This documentary bears witness to the people represented and the challenges, victories, defeats, births, deaths, loves and losses they have experienced in their many years together.

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