“My mom is gay. But it took me a long time to say those words out loud,” says photographer Gabriela Herman. Her mother came out when Gabriela was in high school, and it felt like something that “needed to be hidden.” Even within her otherwise tight-knit family, the topic was taboo. Herman says it was a long time before she met anyone else raised by a gay parent.
The isolation she felt as a young woman inspired her to create “The Kids” five years ago. Through her project, Herman has been photographing and interviewing children of the ’80s, ‘90s and ‘00s with one or more gay parents. Fifty of her portraits will be published as a book this September.
Much (but certainly not all) has changed in the United States for members of the LGBTQ community, including the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, since Herman began her project. And it gives her hope.
“While my experience was difficult, I am hopeful that won’t be the case for the next generation,” says Herman, who shares some of her portraits with us below. “This inequality will fade, and my future children will wonder what the fuss was about.”
“I think the operative word in describing our family is not ‘LGBT,’ it’s in ‘family.’ If you look at the vast majority of things that define who my moms are, or who my family is, it’s really no more accurate to say that my moms are gay married than to say they are Packers-fan married or work-in-healthcare married.”
“I knew that there was other structures of families because I would see my friends’ families and my aunts and uncles, and I knew that people had something called a mother that I didn’t necessarily have. But I didn’t really think that I was so much in the minority. I wondered about my birth family, and my birth mother in particular; but in terms of my own development, I don’t feel like I suffered because of it. I think that my parents did a fantastic job of helping to raise me to be a strong woman. But in terms of that question piece about where did I come from – sometimes I still wonder that, and then other times it just kinda disappears in terms of its importance.”
“Everyone in my family is adopted. I had less trouble with two moms and more issues with finding myself, you know, with race and ethnicity.”
“I took for granted the fact that I was surrounded by lesbians all the time and I thought that was very normal. I have a vague memory of listening to pop music on the radio and just assuming that the person singing was probably singing to a person of the same gender. ”
“When I was about 4, my friend and I were playing house, and she always got to play the mom; and this time I was not gonna have it. We got into a big heated fight about it. So my mom comes running inside to ask what’s the matter. ‘Why don’t you both play the mother?’ And I looked at her incredulously and said, ‘You can’t do that.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Danielle, you have two mothers!’”
Gabriela Herman is a Brooklyn-based editorial and commercial photographer who specializes in travel, food, lifestyle and portrait work around the globe.
Copyright © 500 Pens. June 2017.