They said, “We would love to have you as our photographer, but you’ve never shot a gay wedding before.”. My reply was, “I see love, I photograph love.” Love really doesn’t have a sex or a race for me, it’s an energy and I am blessed I can see it. The dilemma about my image capture isn’t what one is or isn’t, it’s, can one trust me enough to let me see and document their love? Tom and Cliff trusted me.
My kids can say the F word freely at home, but they can’t say the other F word ending with a g in our home. No ism / hate words allowed in our house. This is the James Family culture.
I love Cliff and Tom. Being a photographer isn’t just about trust, it’s also about love. I love what I do, if I am photographing someone it means I either already love them or have determined I can love them. I can’t see or capture their beauty without first having a love for them. I can’t photograph people I don’t love, I must love them in some way. I have a huge love for Gay men because the second half of my adolescence was spent being raised and taught by gay boys and men. This was while I was in the fashion industry, from the age 17 to 28. I felt safe and loved and adored. Looking back, it was one of the happiest times of my life. Last year when the Supreme Court was deliberating the gay marriage issue, I wrote this letter to my dear friend Lisle, I was overwhelmed with emotion with all that had transpired, from days of Harvey Milk to this day.
“I remember all the beautiful boys who made me feel safe and loved, more than the straight ones ever did, who protected me like brothers, who loved each other fiercely, who hurt so much because they were shunned, bullied, brutalized and even denied their mother’s love. Not one of them chose this life, but if they didn’t align with it, tell their truth, to someone who could accept them as they were, they would die…many of them did anyway at the hands of brutes, of broken hearts, of debilitating loneliness, of being shunned. They had to learn self acceptance first, the greatest step of courage if they could live through it, many saw the path too terrible and chose suicide rather than face this hate filled world. I took a poll, I was 18, those boys didn’t mind a young girl trying to understand their dilemma. They talked to me. Not one said, “Oh yes, I know, I’ll be gay so the world will hate me and I will be denied a family of my own, I can’t wait to be sentenced to be an outcast my whole life!”. Not one said it was a choice. I watched Lisle bury his dearest Paul Baldacci and many others and I saw broken hearts everywhere on the streets of San Francisco, and we said goodbye to so many beautiful talented sublime young men… so very many….and all the while a mean mean world was outside throwing rocks at them and we were in *ucking San Francisco!! and my question was never, how could God make gay people, it was always… how could God make such mean, hateful, intolerant people? OMG I loved them, priceless gorgeous, precious, creatures and I had a secret fantasy of being a little girl and having 2 gay dads. I was raised in SF in the sixties, babysat by hippies, raised by democrats and liberals, people who believed in = rights for all. This is a human rights issues and this world has been so unkind to so many. Lisle , I am so choked up! It’s in the supreme court today! It’s 20 years later, but it’s here and it has come so far from the dark ages and changed so much because so many brave people made the choice and stepped forward. There still is such a long way yet to go, but it keeps getting better and better. I am looking with eyes of hope and thank you to all those sweet boys in SF who showed me who all the beautiful people really were. I miss them so much.”
I shoot love. I see love.
Tom and Cliff are getting married at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. I am blessed and honored they asked us to come document it with them.