My OBT

What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

At Home With Themselves

12 Comments

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Sage Sohier

Thirty years ago, photographer Sage Sohier set about to chronicle long-term gay relationships. Her aim was to dispel stereotypes about same-sex couples in the 1980s. Inspired by the AIDS epidemic, the photographer wanted to help the general (hetero) public understand that the promiscuous homosexual portraits promoted by the press weren’t the whole story. She wanted to show loving couples of all ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds, giving the public something closer to their own experience that they could relate to. The project was titled “At Home With Themselves,” and I find it really beautiful and touching.

After Sohier had exhausted her list of coupled friends, she began putting ads in gay newspapers and approaching couples in bars. While some couples demured, she was mostly very pleased at the reaction she got to her unusual request to photograph the pairs.

“I was interested in how, as a culture, we weren’t used to looking at two men touching and was struck by the visual novelty yet total ordinariness of these same-sex relationships. The visual ambiguity of same-sex relationships also intrigued me: were these sisters or friends or lovers or a mother and daughter? It was the beginning of a turning point, and more and more gay and lesbian couples wanted to be seen, wanted their relationships to be recognized and valued.”

Many, many of the beautiful men and women I buried in the eighties were in long-term, monogamous relationships, so the press’s one-note representation of this dying population as twinks and sex-crazed drug users really hurt. I wish I had come across Sohier’s work during those dark days. I think it would have been a real comfort to me and to the others who kept silent watch with me.

I’d like to dedicate today’s post to all the wonderful, creative, sweet, funny, complicated lovelies lost to this terrible plague.

You can see all of Sohier’s wonderful work on her website.

All images property of Sage Sohier.

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Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

12 thoughts on “At Home With Themselves

  1. First off, how could the 80s be 30 years ago? I’m sure they were just last week. But, most of all, these are beautiful images and the black and white makes them even better. No distraction of color to hide the depth of feeling shown. Stunning.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful. I wish I’d seen these back then, too. Two of those couples really remind me of friends I lost back in those days. Thanks for finding this! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved these so much. It was heartwarming and real.

    I am purchasing from Desert Steel thanks to you, my girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The photographs are wonderful. I like how relaxed and natural they are, finding that balance between being staged portraits while suggesting a candid moment that conveys the characters of the sitters and their relationship to each other. I love that these beautiful images were produced to be the antithesis and antidote to all of the ugliness – not just the disease but the rampaging prejudice. Having grown up with gay and lesbian couples in my life as a norm, I do remember being incensed when AIDS was framed as being the result of rampant gay promiscuity. We have a long way to go still with LGBT+ rights but it is good to reflect on how far we’ve come.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ms. Sohier’s work is beautiful. I enjoyed seeing some photos from Witness to Beauty as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How lovely these are!! Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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