Joy and Confrontation
These photos attempt to capture the spirit of the Gay Pride parades in New York City in the years after the legalization of gay marriage in the United States. The collection starts with portraits of people I encountered at random on the streets around the parade. In my mind they reveal a deep pleasure in finally being accepted by society. People are open and uninhibited perhaps for the first time ever in public. The collection then transitions into images of confrontations with fundamentalist Christian protesters who came to the parade to warn of divine retribution. The confrontation images show a range of reactions to the hateful signage, from calls for tolerance and love, amused disbelief, acts of mockery such as dancing and kissing in front of signs that condone torture and killing of homosexuals, obscene gestures, anger, and heated arguments. There was even one near-violent moment when a distressed woman tried to physically attack a Christian man, but was restrained by her friends. Overall people were mirthful in the face of this hostility and it gave me delight to be among them, to absorb their spirit, and to be able to photograph them.
In the complete portfolio, which is over twice as long as this sub-collection, there are also solo photos of the Christians. The difference in expressions on their faces is stunning. In a way, the real point of this essay is to contrast these different sides of human nature.