When I first saw the Love Wins project, I was moved by the beauty of the photographs and the important message that they represent. As a society, we have come a long way since Stonewall and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, but there are still so many people in the world who have misconceptions and hatred of LGBTQ people. The Love Wins project is a series of portraits and stories that aim to bring consistent visibility to LGBTQ marriage in a positive light. Its entire premise is to showcase love, family, and equality. I had the opportunity to sit down with Gia Goodrich, the Portland, Oregon based photographer behind the photo project and find out what inspired her to create this collection of photos.
Last year, the United States Supreme Court made a ruling on same-sex marriage that changed millions of people's lives. After decades of fighting for equal marriage rights, same-sex couples in the United States could now legally be married to each other.
It was just such an amazing day, because I remember growing up thinking that there might not be a day when gay people could get married. Even in 2010, I was dating someone in the military, and I used to have to go to functions as her sister. It's amazing to me how much has changed in only five years. So, I really wanted to celebrate using my “superpower” as a photographer by giving couples this gift that I thought could be amazing. Then, my artistic practice kicked in, which has always been about exploring the archive and telling very specific stories in a collection to see how they speak to our culture, human behavior, and humanity.
The photos on their own are beautiful and evocative, showcasing Gia's incredible skill and artistry as a photographer. More than that, they represent a very powerful message. Gia explains how she uses photography as a mirror to reflect what's going on in our world. Photography, like pop culture, has the power to shape the way we think about and view certain subject matter. It tells us what's good, what's normal, and what's healthy. The problem with not being visible in this culture is that you aren't being affirmed in your identity, and you don't know that you're ok or if your relationships are healthy. Gia's goal for this project is to put images out there that can affirm people's existence and identities and help change cultural attitudes for the better.
By putting my work out into the world, I can create those moments where others can see themselves. Coming from someone who's gay, brown, and a woman (and a diva and fabulous), I didn't see a lot of people like me while I was growing up. It's hard to get a sense of being secure and confident with the absence of your physicality around you.
I was curious to learn about some of Gia's creative process for each shoot. She has an undeniable talent for pulling out a soulfulness in her subjects and building a connection with them. Before each photo shoot, Gia interviews the couples and families in front of the camera in order to hear and document their stories and to get them comfortable being in front of the lens.
I'm always hopeful to capture some degree of authenticity, in terms of how they're feeling and where they're at in their lives. I really want them to talk about their life experiences, and the results of that are shown with the final images. I think it's important to give them that voice.
You can keep up with this project by following the Love Wins Portraits Facebook page, and if you're interested in supporting it, check out their Kickstarter. You can also see more of Gia's incredible work on her website.
All images used with permission of Gia Goodrich.