How do the children of LGBT parents fare compared to those with straight parents? Photographer Gabriela Herman embarked on a journey to find the answer. (Hint: the answer is “just fine.”)
Herman’s mother is gay and came out about 20 years ago when her daughter was in high school. She later went on to marry her partner, one of the first legal unions after Massachusetts’ legalization of gay marriage. But for a long time, Herman had never met anyone else with a queer parent – until she found Colage, a support group for people just like her.
After her first Colage meeting five years ago, Herman began photographing and interviewing children of LGBT parents, a project she calls “The Kids.” Though there may not be an abundance of scientific data on the influence of having gay parents, Herman’s interviews tell stories of kids embarrassed of their families, or having to stand up for their parents, or feeling like they were alone in difficult times. In other words, pretty much just like every kid. After all, we all have moments of being ashamed of our families while growing up, though some to greater or lesser degrees of societal opprobrium.
The portraits tell a similar story. They are tender and intimate, and depict their subjects as thoughtful beings with histories of hurt and love. In other words, just like everyone else. Although some of her subjects are pretty exceptional, like Zach Wahls, the young man whose heartfelt speech in the Iowa House of Representatives has made the Internet rounds since 2011.
“I think the operative word in describing our family is not LGBT, it’s in family,” SAID ZACH.
The Brooklyn-based photographer published a piece about her project in The New York Times last month, shortly before the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. The Kids is also available on her website, with fuller text and audio interviews.