When you think of iconic romance, what image do you get? Photographer Braden Summers thought only of straight couples when he pictured iconic romance. So he decided to help change that lack of representation by photographing gay couples from around the world embracing their love. (Note: Some are real couples and some are models.)
Braden wanted to show that love was equal worldwide. He told Upworthy, "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."
I recommend watching the video before you look at the stunning photos, as it really helps add context to the project.
Here is the video (the transcript is below the photos). The Kickstarter has ended, but you can learn more about this project by clicking the links below.
Here are the stunning photos:
Clarification: Braden used models instead of real couples for some of these images "to protect the identities of actual LGBTQ members who might be in danger in certain countries should their faces be seen."
Braden Summers: Why is it that the quality of commercial imagery of the gay community is less beautiful, than the fantastical illustration we see of romance for everyone else in popular culture and mass media. I'd like you to be a part of a conversation that challenges why that is on a global scale.
I'm Braden Summers, I’m a photographer based in New York City. I particularly love creating portraits and celebrating romantic moments.
Last year I found myself living a dream. I was in love, I was in Paris, and I was inspired by the old world architecture and fascinating people and their classic French style. So, I created a bunch of portraits and I shot couples dancing in the streets of Amats [SP] and women gazing over the city of Paris from balconies. It was amazing. After creating some images of hyper realistic Parisian couples and glorified portraits, my boyfriend had suggested that I photograph a gay couple, and I asked myself, as a gay man, why was that something that I had not thought of instinctively? In fact, why had I not considered this at all?
As an artist outside of my surroundings I draw inspiration from popular culture, other painters, photographers, filmmakers, and that's when I realized when I think of iconic romance, I could only envision straight couples. I could never recall an image of a gay or lesbian couple with the same powerful effect, and how could I? With the competition of years of a legacy of what romance is and what it looks like and who it’s for. All of my references for idealized romance were completely hetero-normative. It is of a man and a woman, we all know the story, we grew up with it.
We've seen it millions of times in commercials, movies and advertising for as long as the mediums have existed. Now, I know firsthand that there's a lot of love and romance in the gay community, and what’s lacking is representation of this in these mediums. Now what we do see of the LGBT community is often overtly sexualized and sometimes deviant. I want to show a campaign that illustrates the love and romance in various cultures around the world, that communicates all love is equal.
So, what do we need? Well, a modest operating budget of $20,000 will go a long way towards realizing this vision. It will finance a team of creatives, models, a producer, and production costs for each iconic shots. The plan is to travel to global destinations that capture the various cultures and romance the world has to offer. Starting in Paris, going to Mumbai, Beirut, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, New York City and Los Angeles. If we surpass our goal, I will continue to cities such as Mexico City, Bangkok, and Tokyo.
So, thank you so much for your help. I think this work can begin to change to perspective of what it means to be gay and in love with its execution and hopefully a large platform of more exposure.
Sorry. Just stop and start again
Male: No, just go.