Making Love Visible:
In Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Families
An excerpt of photos by Geoff Manasse and words by Jean Swallow
© 1995, Geoff Manasse and Jean Swallow. All rights reserved.
A 1995 Lambda Literary Award recipient in the Photography/Visual Arts category.
This book of images and interviews is available from Partners Task Force Orders Page.
Keith Ocheltree & Charles-Gene McDaniel of Chicago, Ill. This couple
met in York, Penn. and have been together for more than 40 years.
Letha Bruce, Tasha Birtha, & Becky Birtha of Philadelphia, Penn. Becky adopted Tasha.
Letha was Becky’s partner and, though now living out of state, is still close and part of the family.
Bob Allen, Matiah Shaman-Rudensey & Lyle Rudensey of Seattle, Wash.
Lyle and Donna Shaman are Matiah’s biological parents. Lyle meets Matiah’s child care
and financial needs on a 25 percent basis. The rest of the time Matiah lives with Donna.
Janet Bardzik, Anita McCurley, Alice Aldrich, Barton Heaps, Dean Birch, Lucky Sweeny,
Jan Braumiller, Frances Heaps, & Deborah Vitkovah of Glen Rock, Penn. This is the core group of a very
large extended family made up of partners, friends, and ex-lovers. The farm is owned by Barton who runs
a press and offers her place as a retreat for the women’s community of Baltimore.
From the book’s introduction by Jean Swallow:
So perhaps you can imagine how confusing this family business has been for me. I’m not supposed to have a family. But I do, and I have, and I expect I always will. And as I look around, I see this is also true for most of my gay and lesbian friends. And if I’ve been confused, if I’ve seen no words and no images of the reality of my life, I can only imagine how confused and how easily misled the rest of America must be about gay and lesbian families, how easily any of us can be made to believe that gay men and lesbians are, well, not like everybody else.
So what makes a family? To begin with, love and the dream of love lasting. And then the second, crucial, ingredient: the acceptance of obligation. “Until death do us part.” “For better or worse.” We make these promises to each other, in a church, in a car in a quiet parking lot, or in the space between us as we hold each other in tears at a funeral. “I promise I will never leave you.” “We will grow old together.”
Love and commitment make a family. No more. And no less. No church ceremony or government document will ever stop love or its inevitable expression of honoring that love by our choice to shelter and claim one another as our own. And no one, no matter who they are in this life, no matter how much power they have accumulated or how loudly they shout will ever be able to take away the name of who we are together.
Making Love Visible: In Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Families
Published, June 1995, Crossing Press, Box 1048, Freedom, CA 95019
Excerpts used with permission.
The photographer, Geoff Manasse, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org