Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, across the country, there are same sex couples who are in dedicated relationships, many for 20, 30, 40 years or more, who are denied the same rights of other couples. Legally married couples are protected by 1,138 rights not afforded same-sex couples who are denied the right to be legally recognized. These rights cover inheritance benefits, access to health care, hospital visitation, tax benefits, immigration, adoption of children, property rights and many more. Even in states where same sex couples may marry, DOMA denies those couples Federal benefits. It is time that our government recognizes that all of its citizens deserve the same rights with regard to employment, housing and even marriage.
The “First Comes Love” Project explores relationships in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) communities across the nation, beginning in the local geographic region and then expanding across the country to show that allowing same-gender marriage will pose no threat to the “sanctity of the marriage”. In fact, LGBT couples often consider themselves “already married,” just without the same rights of heterosexual couples. Text, photograph and video will bear witness that couples represented in this project have endured all of the highs and lows, challenges, victories and defeats, births and deaths, loves and losses that any couple faces over a period of many years together. Each has built a life together and forged the bonds of commitment that can only endure with pure love for and dedication to another person. These couples stand together “for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” and WITHstand the test of time and the discrimination allowed by the inequitable laws of this country.
The project’s goal is to photograph same sex couples who have been in long-term relationships and to create an expressive portraits to represent, in each relationship, the depth, the seriousness, and the love between two people who have made a commitment to one another. Portraits will be presented in black and white to further break down the stereotypes in a society where homosexuality is often characterized by drag queens, gay pride parades, and rainbow flags. The people represented in this project live ordinary lives made extraordinary by their endurance of the attitudes and policies that society directs against them.
The video interviews from this project tell the story of the each couple in a multi-media approach, showing a broad spectrum of the LGBT community and presenting an intimate view of each couple in their separate interviews as they share the landmarks of their journeys. This work shows a group of people as diverse as the human race itself yet who share the common bond of what it takes to commit to a lifetime of love.
This project focuses on the positive nature of same sex relationships and highlights the similarities-the equality, if you will, between heterosexual marriage and the LGBT experience. The project will show a side of the story of the LGBT experience that has not yet been told…the one that shows already existent long-term dedicated relationships, ones that are in no way a threat to families or traditional marriages.