Transcending Love:
Portraits of Transgender and Non-Binary Couples
 Photography by B Proud

Transcending Love: Portraits of Transgender and Non-Binary Couples, Photography by B Proud opened on Friday, November 15, 2019, from 7 pm – 9 pm, with a presentation by photographer B. Proud at 7:00 pm. The exhibit will remain on view until February 16, 2020. Stonewall Museum is located at 2157 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL. The exhibition is free of charge. Suggested donation $5.

Support for programs at Stonewall National Museum & Archives is generously provided by the Broward County Cultural Council, The Department of Florida Cultural affairs, Funding Arts Broward, and Titos Homemade Vodka.

Jake Graf and Hannah Winterbourne

Jake & Hannah Photo by B. Proud

In 2009, photographer Barbara Proud began the project, First Comes Love: Portraits of Enduring LGBTQ Relationships, which was exhibited at SNMA in 2016, as an attempt to open hearts and minds about accepting LGBT relationships even prior to marriage equality laws. In Volume 2 of the project, Proud focuses on transgender and genderqueer couples.

Transcending Love specifically focuses on opening hearts and minds to couples and families in a community that has been silenced far too long. In keeping with the original goal of the first phase of the project, the new work focuses on portraying couples, and not just individuals, in committed relationships and their love and determination to be together.

In this new series, Transcending Love: Portraits of Transgender and Non-Binary Couples, Proud photographs transgender couples across the country to show that trans and non-binary confirming couples come from every state, every economic strata, every ethnicity, every city, every town and maybe every family.

“Trans people have been pushed aside for years and need visibility, understanding, protection and support,” says B. Proud.

The project includes an environmental portrait of each couple in order to show their essence and beauty. The formality of the portrait, as opposed to a candid photograph, is aimed at honoring the subjects in a stately, heroic way. In many cases, the couple visibly presents as heterosexual or even homosexual, terms reserved for sexuality. This project is about the validity and fluidity of gender expression.  It will only be through reading the accompanying text that the viewer will truly understand the depth and complexity of the relationship and come to realize that this is an extraordinary couple with a deep commitment to each other. The location for each portrait, chosen by the couple in discussion with the artist, is significant and provides the viewer with another level of understanding into the relationship.

A critical component of this work is its emphasis on diversity: ethnic, socio-economic, age, and geographic. It provides a true representation of the entire country versus one specific region, or the typically more liberal metropolitan areas. There is a large and growing list of willing and eager subjects from around the country. They come to the project by word of mouth, personal connections, recommendations, and social media. The only criteria are that the couple consists of at least one trans or gender fluid person, they have been together for at least two years and are relatively established, they are comfortable being photographed and videotaped, and they are willing to commit up to 4-5 hours of their time. There is no vetting based on appearance. All willing subjects are added to the list with no promises of when or if they might be photographed. Travel to selected cities is based on the availability and schedules of the participants, the artist, and the finances necessary to afford the trip. The list of willing and eager subjects totals 150 couples in 36 states and growing. Sixty couples have been photographed to date in 23 states.

“Visibility matters. The project provides a platform for our transgender siblings,” says B. Proud. As the artist, I am not intending to be the voice of this community but rather to provide the means for these couples to be both seen and heard.  This work is created with the aggregate end result in mind. The portraits and stories are constructed with a deliberate goal of tapping into individual responses and emotions. They will sometimes elicit laughter, sometimes anger, and sometimes tears. This is about humanity and accepting the right of people to live their lives as their true authentic selves.”

Learn more at firstcomeslove.org.