Seeking to break down barriers and stereotypes and create allies, French Photographer Olivier Ciappa has created a remarkably intriguing series called "Imaginary Couples." The results are quite thought-provoking.
"Imaginary Couples" brings celebrities together to pose as same-sex couples and families. Upset by stereotypes and looking to create both relatable images of famous people in same-sex relationships and allies in the LGBTQIA community, OIivier Ciappa's series is impressive both for its intimate, natural portraits and its unique nature. By showing celebrities of whom people already have strong, preconceived images in relationships that often garner negative stereotypes, Ciappa hopes to rewire the thinking surrounding those types of relationships. The series' consistent aesthetic strongly unites the different couples in a single message. Stars such as Eva Longoria have already posed for the series. Ciappa notes:
A few years ago, gay marriage in France drew a totally unexpected negative backlash. Millions of people marched with banners saying frightening sentences like, 'France needs babies, not homosexuals.' I talked to a lot of these people to understand them. That’s how I realized that a homophobic person is often similar to a racist, often not very open-minded. The problem is that they have absolutely no knowledge of what a gay family is truly like. I heard some of them saying on TV the worst clichés, such as two gay men with babies would have sex orgies in front of their kids or would dress with feathers to bring their kids to school. To me, the unknown leads to fear and unfortunately, fear leads to worse fantasies.
Currently, real couples and gay families are so rare in the media, movies, TV, or talk shows. There are more than before, but unfortunately, it is just a drop of water compared to the hundreds of heterosexual couples we see every day. So, I decided to take these photos myself and show what, in my eyes, a gay couple and gay family look like. Having these pictures everywhere, on building facades in a city and in the media, will hopefully make people see them. The more the uneducated see these pictures, the more it will be engraved in their memory and will slowly erase the fantasies they invented themselves from their lack of knowledge. I call this 'educate the retina.'
After strong international response and success, Ciappa is bringing the project to the United States this year. Be sure to follow him on Facebook to keep up with the project!
All images used with permission of Olivier Ciappa.