June 3, 2011
Photographer’s exhibition celebrates equal love
GAY marriage is becoming a hot topic in Australian politics as the country’s law makers debate whether it is right and fair to allow same-sex couples the ability to enjoy the same rights as their mixed-sex friends.
But aside from the political slinging matches and the emotional protests the real human side of the gay marriage debate is often overlooked.
Sydney-based photographer Evan Cooper has taken the personal, real-life stories of same-sex couples who believe in equal rights for all and put them on display in a touching tribute to the fact that enduring love has no boundaries when it comes to gender or sexuality.
After watching both of his grandfathers pass away Cooper wonder if he, as a gay man, would ever be able to have a relationship that lasted anywhere near the length of either of his grandparents.
“The affection my grandparents had in their last days as a couple was so real and intense that I know that they were in love till the very end, it was the fairytale we are all told as kids and it moved me”
Looking for a project to satisfy his love of photography Evan decided he would document long term same-sex relationships, not only for himself but also for others that might be looking for the same type of answers.
And so The Commitment Project was born, a website dedicated to celebrating the love of same-sex couples in Australia.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median length of an Australian marriage is 8.7 years. So using that as his benchmark, Evan set out to find same-sex couples who have been in relationships that have lasted longer than the average length of an Australian marriage.
“Finding couples in the beginning was hard but slowly through word of mouth and the use of social media I have been able to connect with couples from different walks of life.”
His journey led him to find couples from around the country whose relationships range from 8.8 years to 51 years, proving that same-sex couples have relationships that are not only just as valid as mixed-sex marriages but also as enduring.
Some would see The Commitment Project as one tool in the fight for marriage equality, but according to Evan he wants it to mean much more than that to people.
“I also want people to see it as a document of loving relationships and inspire young people to believe they can find ‘the one’,” he said.
“I guess it can also let parents know that just because their child has come out as same-sex attracted, it isn’t a sentence to a life of loneliness.”
But, of course, the project also has a powerful political message.
“Hopefully it will help change the minds of the general public and Australian Political leaders about marriage equality,” Evan said.
Marriage Equality is something close to Evans’ heart.
He believes that when a government says one group of people are to be treated differently it allows homophobia and discrimination to grow as it creates and “us” and “them” mentality. And while Marriage equality won’t instantly end homophobia in Australia it is a step in the right direction.
Photos from the project are currently on display at www.thecommitmentproject.net but physical exhibitions of the photographs are currently being planned.
The main exhibition will be a very public work in Town Hall Train Station Sydney that Evan is currently fundraising for.
He is asking for the public to pledge a small amount of money towards making this happen and he has until August 1 2011 to raise the funds.
If people would like to be involved people can look at the project’s website www.thecommitmentproject.net
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