Gay in America: Portraits by Scott Pasfield
The way Scott Pasfield tells it, he had an epiphany one night about four years ago, when he became "obsessed by the idea that if I could meet a gay man, couple or family from every state, photograph them and tell their stories, I could make a book that would change hearts and minds."
He intentionally set out to detail the lives of the forgotten gay men. These are not the Circuit boys, the Chelsea boys, the WeHo boys, the SoBe boys (although New York, L.A. and Miami are represented). These are the men who for the most part fly underneath the media radar.
There are Muslims, Jews, white, black, Indian-American, Native American. Some are well off; many more are middle class. And many more are lower middle-class or even poor. Some of them have families of their own. Some of them have lost their families.
There is only one man who is well known to the wider world, and that's Dan Choi, the West Point graduate who revealed he was gay on national TV and went on to become a point man in the recently successful fight to repeal the Pentagon's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.
Each man or family or couple is given one page for a first-person presentation of his or their situation. Often, these involve how and when they came out and the consequences. I found each story fascinating in its own unique way.
What follows are just a tiny handful of the wonderful stories in this essential volume.
Anthony & Kevin live in Kennewick, in Washington State. They are representative of their generation: Kevin tried to date women, had some unfortunate affairs, moved to a big city and eventually found himself.
Anthony was a Syrian who, from cultural and family pressures, married a woman and became a family man. His coming out was a good deal more difficult. It’s a tribute to both their strengths that they found each other and built a life -- and a family of their own.
Ernesto probably comes closest to fitting the conventional media image of a gay man in America. Good looking, stylish, with a creative job, he lives in Los Angeles. He works in the film industry and has high ambitions.
The product of a broken home, Jakoury lives in a very quiet part of Virginia, where, he says, there isn’t much to do. Bullied and ridiculed in high school, he fought back and ultimately founded a gay-straight group.
Isn’t this a great photograph? It really shows how deeply Pasfield gets into his subjects via his lens while allowing their personalities and situations to stand for themselves. This photo could be used by the Palm Springs, Calif., chamber of commerce to recruit gay retirees. They’re having such a good time!
Kris is raising his sister’s two sons in Massachusetts. He’s a single parent who happens to be gay. His "kids" are happy and well adjusted. Despite some serious health problems, he leads a fulfilling life.
Stephen lives in Miami. When he came out to his family, they sent him to a psychiatrist, who told him after one visit, "I told them [his parents] that you were the most well-adjusted teenager and homosexual I’ve ever met, and that it was they who needed therapy to address and resolve their own conflicts about it." And isn’t it wonderful to meet so many great older gay men in these pages!
Kevin says his life is worth "an entire season of Oprah all my own." A victim of molestation, an extremely dysfunctional home and even a shooting, he married a woman but is now easing out of the closet. I’m rooting for him.
GAY IN AMERICA?
By Scott Pasfield, ?Introduction by Tom Kirdahy & Terrence McNally?
224 pages, Full color, hardcover, $45.00
There will be book signings and author discussions in the following EDGE cities:
• New York: LGBT Center, 208 W. 13th St. Monday, Oct. 17, 6 p.m.
• New York: Barnes & Noble, 97 Warren St. Friday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m.
• Dallas: Ilume Gallery, 4123 Cedar Springs Road Wednesday, Oct 26, 6-9 p.m.
• Atlanta: OutWrite Books, 991 Piedmont Ave. Thursday, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m.
• Miami: Books & Books, 933 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach Tuesday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m.
• Ft. Lauderdale: Books & Books @ the Museum of Art, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Wednesday, Nov. 2, 6 p.m.
• Rehoboth Beach, Delaware: Browseabout Books, 133 Rehoboth Ave., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6 p.m.
• Washington, D.C.: LGBT Center, 1318 U St. NW, Friday Noveember 11, 6 p.m.
• Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Coop Bookstore, 1400 Massachusetts Ave.,/18 Palmer St., Monday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
• Easton, Penn.: This Beautiful Life Mercantile Home, 140 Northampton St., Saturday, Nov. 19, 5-8 p.m.