Above: A stream in Johannesburg
Last summer we posted some of Braden Summers's sumptuous images of same-sex romance around the world and promoted his project on Kickstarter to raise funds for him to make more inspirational images of same-sex romance. Thanks in part to our readership, the response was great, and we are pleased to present some of the results of his project. Below, Braden shares some of his experiences and thoughts about the project:
"I have successfully reached my goal back in August 2013 through crowdfunding thanks, in large part, to The Advocate's exposure. Thank you! I was able to travel the world with my trusted friend and producer Greg Jaroszewski to create the work you see here. Along the way I talked with many people about what romance means to them in their respective countries, encountered countless obstacles, and received help from some of the most touching and unexpected people I will ever meet. I was inspired and filled with hope that the resulting imagery will resonate with the public.
"The series is 'complete' for the time being. That said, I have high ambitions for the next steps in the project's development. I would love to continue shooting in Mexico, different countries in Asia, and also incorporate transgender people into the new imagery. In terms of showcasing the work, the goal would be to have a public exhibition where everyone (and not just gallery-goers) can view the images, possibly in city centers around the world! Other powerful platforms would be to have the work shown on Ellen DeGeneres's program and develop a partnership with corporations whose reputations have been damaged by antigay associations, or simply companies who have an interest in promoting love equality!
"A little bit about myself. I am a hopeful romantic — in case anyone was confused after looking at my work. I get lost in the dreamlike quality of paintings, films, and photographs; I love discovering the subtle point when reality meets the surreal. I have always loved romantic imagery. I recently came to a realization that I have a subconscious disconnection from said imagery because of the simple truth that the majority of the most influential images depict straight couples. I wanted to create that same quality romantic imagery using same-sex couples; a body of work to give our community something to dream about. A time when all love is equal.
"A large driving force behind creating the work was actually less about affecting the gay community directly and more about giving the general population a way to relate to gay imagery that is devoid of sex, victimization, or banality — something that might usually prevent some folks from connecting. The images are not documentations, they are illustrations of what open expressions of love in different cultures could look like in a future, more accepting time. I have often been asked why I am focusing so much on beauty. We are constantly viewing photographs with the most gorgeous models acting as a couple to sell jewelry, tourism, etc. Why not use the same tactics to 'sell' same-sex romance to those who are a bit leery of its legitimacy? My good friend Hannah Vanderlan put it perfectly — I am 'using the language of a dominant culture for the purpose of a repressed culture.' By showing images of beautiful couples in exotic locations I am hopefully providing a caliber of romantic imagery that people are accustomed to viewing, only this time the couples are gay.
"My hope is that not only are my images inspiring romance for the queer community, but inspiring the acceptance of our romance on a global scale."
Click through from more images from the series >>>
Tea in Beirut