Sunday, November 16, 2008
Kyle and Brad
Many Americans will probably remember for the rest of their lives exactly where they were and what they were doing when the election results arrived on Tuesday November 4th confirming Barack Obama as our next president. One of my friends was celebrating the victory with her neighbors on the streets of Harlem and another friend, photographer Jason Lazarus, got to be in the heart of the action in Byrant Park documenting the beauty of that historical moment. I was sitting on my girlfriend's couch in her living room in Endwell, near Binghamton, sending and receiving text messages to and from friends around the country and wiping away some tears of happiness and relief.
I spent the afternoon of election day in Binghamton driving up and down Main Street, watching people too young to vote attempt to rally support for Obama. Teenagers were shouting at cars to VOTE OBAMA and even shouting the same message at me walking around with my camera. Kyle and Brad stood stoically with their Obama sign outside a gas station on their way home from school while I took pictures of them.
At the end of the afternoon, before dusk settled over Binghamton and I picked up my girlfriend from work so she and her mom could make it to the election site to cast their votes, I found Matthew bagging dried leaves on the sidewalk outside his father's auto body shop. I noticed him watching me in the car watching him, and when I stopped to ask if I could take a picture, I approached him gently since he struck me as so delicate. He didn't say much and was perhaps less preoccupied with the significance of the day, but he seemed to appreciate the unexpected experience of being photographed.
By now, we have seen all kinds of photographs taken on this incredible day, but I recently discovered some good documentary photography on a blog, We Can Shoot You, consisting of work by ICP photojournalists capturing these latest events. The blog also includes images of supporters of gay marriage outside The Church of the Latter Day Saints near the Lincoln Center protesting the passage of Proposition 8. For as much progress as was made on election night, Proposition 8, which reversed marriage equality for gay couples in California and wrote discrimination into the California Constitution, is a huge set back for the gay community, and fortunately, is inciting protests around the country.
While personally, I would drink battery acid before I'd dress up like a bride or a groom, and hope that gays couples ultimately continue to redefine their relationship to gender roles and the institution of marriage, I'd naturally like to see gays, including myself, achieve the same rights as everyone else, and find it incredibly sad and pathetic that it is still socially and politically acceptable and even advantageous to legally discriminate against gays in this country. We may be the next minority group most in need of a civil rights movement, and those wheels are already turning.