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LOS ANGELES — Queer culture has had increasing visibility as of late. Every week, I look forward to seeing the antics of Mitchell and Cam, the gay couple in the Modern Family TV series. Pop culture icon George Takei is reaching a new audience through his social media work and outspokenness. And of course there’s the It Gets Better project, which even the US President participated in.
So I was surprised to read on Brain Pickings about “the first-ever large-scale photographic survey of gay men in America.” Gay in America is a book put together late last year by New York photographer Scott Pasfield that was recently named an award finalist by the Lambda Literary Foundation. What didn’t surprise was the survey — what surprised me was that, in late 2011, it’s the first. Looking at the portraits, it’s clear that Pasfield has traveled far and wide to capture diverse stories, far from the well-known queer enclaves of the big cities.
And that diversity, at least in the press images, is striking. Pasfield clearly worked to cover people of all different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, from Virginia to Ohio to Alaska. As he said in an interview with GLAAD:
I want the book to be an introduction to gay people. I hope it is a spokesperson for the gay community. I want it to educate people to the fact that so many people in their world are probably gay and quiet about it and they have no idea. I want them to understand their stories and help them relate. I want young people to have it as a resource as they move forward in their lives.
That’s an ambitious goal, but a worthy one. Increasing visibility and showing the diversity of the gay male experience can go a long way in telling these stories and showing positive, diverse role models for queer children.
“I was able to heal as a gay man myself in many ways through this project and searching and finding wisdom from men all over the country,” Pasfield states in the book trailer. The photos are great, and the book is certainly something I’ll be checking out.