Television shows like The New Normal and Modern Family are doing a great job bringing functional, everyday gay couples into America’s living room, but is it enough? Lesbian photographer Alix Smith doesn’t think so. In her ongoing photographic series “States of Union,” she is working to document “run-of-the-mill” gay families in an attempt to further the LGBTQ cause by showing the masses that, hey, we’re just like everyone else. In an article on slate.com, she explains:
Initially, I conceived of “States of Union” as a way to show America who and what they were voting against. … I felt the most effective way to change people’s perception was through the power of images. I wanted those who condemn legal recognition of loving families to see the faces of those people they would deny.
The collection of photos warmly capture gay families from every walk of life — from a lesbian couple feeding their two kids to a newlywed gay couple posing with their dog and a marriage certificate. She hopes the images will not only strike a chord in straight people looking to understand “the other side,” but to offer gay youth an optimistic representation of what their futures hold.
One couple I photographed told me they were overwhelmed when they saw their photograph in an exhibition — because it felt like the first public declaration of their relationship. Because same-sex relationships are often devoid of events that are markers of family life — a wedding, meeting the in-laws, the formal family photo or the family Christmas card — the very act of sitting for a formal family portrait serves as an acknowledgement to the individuals themselves that they are, indeed, a family.
Smith began conceptualizing the project in 2007, and now that she’s started, she’s starting to see that it may be something she’ll work on for years to come.
“I actually think that “States of Union” will be a lifelong endeavor for me. It won’t take up all my energy as it has in recent years, but I imagine that I will always continue to add to the body of work — the project of documentation will never be entirely complete.”
You can check out more of the photos here.