"First Comes Love" explores relationships in LGBT communities across the nation, beginning regionally and expanding across the country to show that 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 as heterosexual couples.
Because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex couples in dedicated relationships - many for 20, 30, 40 years or more - are denied the 1,138 rights of heterosexual couples.
These rights include inheritance and tax benefits, health care and hospital visitation rights, equal immigration status, and child adoption and property rights, etc. In states where same sex couples may marry, DOMA denies federal benefits. It is time to recognize that every citizen is entitled to equal rights.
Text, photograph and video will bear witness that the couples documented in this project have endured the highs and lows, challenges, victories and defeats, births and deaths, loves and losses that all couples face after years together. Every couple builds a life and forges bonds of commitment that can only endure with pure love for and dedication to another person. All couples (heterosexual and same sex) stand together "for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health" and withstand the test of time. Inequitable marriage laws discriminate (and disempower).
The video interviews tell stories ... and show a broad spectrum of the LGBT community; they present an intimate view of each couple as they share the landmarks of their journeys. This work shows individuals as diverse as the human race itself; they share a common bond - to commit to a lifetime of love.
Black and white portraits help break down stereotypes; homosexuality is often characterized by drag queens, gay pride parades, and rainbow flags. The couples I document live ordinary lives made extraordinary by their endurance of the attitudes and policies that foster prejudice, inequality and intolerance.
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 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 to traditional marriages.
- Barbara Proud, artist,
educator and activist