A new photography exhibit at the Stonewall National Museum & Archives in Wilton Manors aims to give transgender and non-binary couples a platform to tell their stories and show them living their everyday lives, posing with their families in the setting of their choice.
The exhibit is called "Transcending Love: Portraits of Transgender and Non-Binary Couples."
Barbara Proud is the photographer behind the project. A lesbian herself, she goes by the name B. Proud.
"...Because, why not?" she said.
Proud, a career photographer, also teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She said her Transcending Love project, is really a second iteration of her first project, called, "First Comes Love: Portraits of Enduring LGBTQ Relationships," which went on display in South Florida shortly after the 2016 presidential election.
"The first project really served as a calling card," Proud said. "It let people know that while I wasn't necessarily a part of the transgender community, I wanted to help the transgender community - and that I would do it with integrity."
Proud is based in Delaware with her wife. She traveled to almost 30 states to meet and photograph 60 couples for the new project, 18 of which are hung up in Wilton Manors.
The show will be on display, until mid-February of next year.
Proud said she wants to make it clear that she does not want to act as a spokesperson for the community:
"The trans and non-binary community has been misunderstood, under-protected, under-loved, under-represented, and thrown under the bus," she said. "I'm just a conduit. I'm offering them a platform to shout about who they are."
The 18 portraits on display are meant to showcase the breadth of the couples Proud sat with. (The others can be viewed in a digital slideshow.)
"My goal was to show as much diversity as possible within the project…ethnic diversity, socio-economic diversity, age diversity, geographic diversity," she said. "I want to be able to say, 'America: this is your neighbor.' Just say, 'hello.'"
Owen And Blue
The first portrait Proud photograpghed in the series shows two transgender men, Owen and Blue. They are in an embrace, and Owen was pregnant at the time, about to welcome their first baby.
"They're both touching the belly - their child to be. And you just know they're thinking about what their family will be like and how much they love each other, and how much they will love this child," Proud said.
Transgender Awareness Month
Deputy Director of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, Emery Grant, said the exhibit was purposefully opened during Trangender Awareness Month, observed in November.
"Sometimes I think we see examples to two extremes: we see activists, or models or entertainers who have transitioned who may have a lot of wealth and privilege to be very visible and look a certain way," Grant said. "Then we may see the other extreme which is: desperate poverty, or the murder of trans women of color, inparticular."
"We don't always have an opportunity to learn... about, I'll say, sort of everyday trans and non-binary people, and what are their families like?" Grant said. "So we can really start to talk about the lived experiences of transgender people in the United States."
Grant also said, Proud's exhibit opens the door for even people inside of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community in South Florida to be more compasisonate towards the transgender community in the acronym, LGBT.
"These stories unfold with a lot of passion and detail and they're very inspiring," Grant said. "This is a unique opportunity to use this exhibit to humanize transgender people in our local Wilton Manors community, and in South Florida as a whole."
As Proud said: "The 'T' is not silent."
Proud estimates that her waiting list is over 100 couples long. She hopes to keep traveling to photograph them, but admits the travel is expensive and grant money she has been applying for hasn't come her way, like she'd hoped.
"That slows things down a little bit," she said. "I know all of these couples are hoping that this will be a book, and I do too."