Above: Owen and Blue on the verge of becoming parents. Their daughter, Finley, was born on May 24.
Since 2009, lesbian photographer B. Proud has documented over six dozen long-term LGBT couples for her First Comes Love project. The ensuing book featured a foreword by Edith Windsor (whose Supreme Court case largely ended the Defense of Marriage Act). A gallery exhibition is touring the country now and the project has inspired a song, music video, and documentary.
“I feel that it’s the transgender community that now needs the most attention,” says Proud, whose new project focuses on trans and genderqueer people in love. “I’m doing this with a purpose. For me, changing laws does not change people’s minds. It’s only through understanding that people learn to accept. The transgender community needs our understanding, protecting, and celebrating right now.”
She hopes her photos capture “the beauty of the many configurations of couples and families that blossom from love and that truly make our world a better place. There are trans children out there who need hope and protection. I hope that my work will help to give them that.”
“There are many versions of what makes a family,” says Proud, who has met LGBT families from around the country. “At one of my recent exhibitions in Yakima, Wash., two men came and brought their children — nine of them, all different ages and races. One of the fathers cried in my arms, thanking me for showing his children that there were other families like theirs.”
Jonah and Deejay (pictured with their biological daughter, Anuhea below) are engaged to be married next October. Jonah works for the post office and is a female illusionist. Deejay is a photographer and DJ who provides security at Piranha Night Club in Las Vegas.
Deejay says the couple is sometimes asked “vulgar” and “personal questions about our family and how our daughter came about… ‘Where’s the womb? Where’s the girl? Who’s the dad?’… If you don’t know us there’s no reason for you to judge the way that we live or the way that we made our family!”
“I have seen such deep love and commitment on my journey with these projects,” Proud says. “It was such an incredible experience to photograph Owen and Blue [above] while Owen was experiencing labor pains. I felt, firsthand, the anticipation and joy coming from these soon-to-be fathers. It is both a challenge and an honor to attempt to share that feeling with the world. I am blessed to be able to give these couples and families a voice.”
Above: Jonah and Deejay with their daughter Anuhea.
Browse, donate, participate, or learn at FirstComesLove.org.