February 14, 2011
13 Love Stories
Happy Valentines Day!
For those of you in loving relationships, this may be an exciting day to honor and celebrate your love, while it can be rather disheartening for others. I am blessed to be celebrating this day with a lovely partner whose kind words of encouragement have helped me get through many challenging moments. As a transgender person, I always believed that transitioning meant that I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life. After all who could possibly love someone as freakish as me? I was also under the mistaken belief that I would have to leave behind almost all the friends I had known before, certainly the straight ones. Not only have I experienced true love with someone who loves me in part because of, not despite, being transgender, but I also have the love of old friends to go along with it. Through the process of transitioning I was faced with the enormous challenge of loving myself in a minefield of cultural hate and contempt and through this self-love, allowing others to love me as well. We all experience this in some way, especially due to the destructive influence of advertising, however it did feel particularly intense as I was transitioning.
Two years ago in the wake of the Prop 8 fiasco, my wife and I had an opportunity to create a short film about our relationship. We were part of a wonderful collaboration between London-based photographer Gideon Mendel and the UCLA World Arts and Cultures Department called “13 Love Stories”. This series of short films coupled with a photography exhibit profiled 13 LGBT couples and families, traveling to exhibitions and schools throughout southern California.
As explained on the 13 Love Stories website, the project came out of the absence of actual LGBT families in the media put out by either side of the Prop 8 campaign: “In the media campaign leading up to the hotly contested November 2008 vote, something essential was missing: images of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer couples whose relationships hung in the balance. 13LoveStories.com presents a series of short films that redress the absence of such images. Featuring real voices and personal photographs, the films provide direct access to a diverse cross-section of committed couples in and around Los Angeles.
The project began in late January 2009. London-based photographer Gideon Mendel made portraits of each couple along with still life pictures from their homes. UCLA students worked with the couples to unearth an array of snapshots from their personal archives. Creative editor Derrick Shore interviewed the couples and created short videos from the plethora of assembled materials. The videos were completed in mid-February, just in time to go live on Valentine’s Day. An outdoor exhibition version of 13LoveStories.com was launched at Bruin Plaza on the UCLA campus, March 5, 2009, the day that oral arguments in the case are presented to the California Supreme Court. The project was directed by Mendel in collaboration with co-curators David Gere and Janna Shadduck Hernandez, professors at UCLA, and it was produced by Bobby Gordon.” - http://www.13lovestories.com/
“Madly In Love”, the short film made about my partner Karin and I focused on how hard it can be for transgender people to feel lovable, worthy of being loved. We are told by the culture all around us that we are despicable, disposable, and even demonic. For this reason, it is crucial that we highlight the healthy relationships that do exist and that can exist for transgender people. It is only through positive, accurate media that we will be able to stem the tide of self-destructive thoughts and actions within our community.
Watch all the 13 love stories videos here: