The Way Life Could Be
I remember an instance in my youth watching a friend 'bashing' individuals in an online chat-room for gay men. If I force myself to recount this instance correctly, I in fact participated in this verbal onslaught. Later that evening, one of the men from the chat-room messaged me personally. The conversation that followed, over the next couple hours, was one of the most pivotal and influential of my life.
Until that point, I had lived a life solely influenced by the rural and closed-minded biases of my immediate environment. I considered homosexuality to be unacceptable based on other’s religious, political or moral beliefs--the most I knew of 'gay' was to label someone it as an insult. My ignorance finally escalated into this act of blind hatred, and it was only then that someone held a mirror to my beliefs. I now often wonder what would have become of my general acceptance for others if this had never occurred.
Around ten years (and numerous epiphanies and life-changes) later, I attended the public hearings for Maine and New Hampshire’s marriage-equality bills. Though by this point I had come to accept and understand homosexuality (believing in the absolute equality of all humans), I made an attempt to check my bias at the door--mainly for journalistic reasons.
In New Hampshire, I remained closed-mouthed and as invisible as possible. I watched as a people were degraded and vilified based upon a trait that is as natural as any other. Despite the many masks opponents used to conceal their true feelings, the speeches and fears presented were nearly identical. Once more, when I attended the hearings in Maine, the amount of disdain that I witnessed from one group of humans to another terrified me. In contrast, though, the amount of unflinching courage presented towards this opposition, especially by youth, was empowering. Their resilience to remain positive and not lash back now leaves an equal, if not stronger, impression upon me.
It took most of my strength on those two days to hide my feelings and instead focus on my images. And, though I made my best effort to stay impartial while photographing, it is harder, in hindsight, to do so with words. With tired eyes, now, I watch as unending cases of bullying, suffering, and suicides related to sexual orientation unfold in the media. As much progress as it seems we make at times, it all-to-soon moves backwards. It is now that I no longer wonder which event will finally change the way we, as a whole, respect one another, but instead how many events it will take before change finally arrives.
Though briefly instated, Maine's public later voted to veto the same-sex marriage bill. Same-sex marriage is now lawfully accepted by the state of New Hampshire.