Scott Pasfield: Gay in America
All photos from Gay in America by Scott Pasfield, published by Welcome Books. © 2011 Scott Pasfield. www.gayinamerica.us
It took photographer Scott Pasfield two years to complete the photographs for his book Gay in America, a collection of portraits of gay men from across the country which he'll discuss and sign today at Brazos Bookstore.
Unlike other photo books of gay men, Pasfield wasn't looking for any particular type of man in terms of appearance. In fact, appearance didn't have anything to do with his selections at all. "I was looking for inspiring, out and proud gay men who were living their lives happily, where they wanted, doing what they wanted," he tells Art Attack. "I think we can learn so much from ordinary, everyday people that are being honest about themselves." Pasfield simply wanted to show the breadth of lifestyles and lives gay men were living in America, some conforming to the stereotypical images and some not.
He started off by looking for his subjects on the Internet. "I put ads in all sorts of community groups and social networking sites," he tells Art Attack. (Pasfield originally tried to include lesbians in the book, but quickly found that finding women would be more difficult. "If you ever want to see an ad deleted in a women's Web site, just say you're a man looking for a lesbian," he laughs.)
From there, he traveled to all 50 states in the union to photograph the men in their homes or neighborhoods. He spent only two or three hours with most of his subjects, but was able to develop a connection that allowed him to capture very intimate images. "I was amazed at how much people opened up to me."
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One of the things that was important to Pasfield was to get a wide variety of men. "I have young couples in love, I have older couples who got together after having been married [to women] before they found each other. I have men living in cities, men living in tiny towns and everything in between."
Some of the stories behind the photographs are surprising. One photograph shows a man, Jonny, on a beach at sunset. The setting is beautiful and it's easy to assume that he's wealthy (remember, Pasfield took photos of the men where they lived). He is, in fact, living out of his van. "Jonny gave up everything, all his personal belongings, and turned his back on corporate America," says Pasfield. "He lives six months out of the year in Hawaii in his van and the other six months out of an igloo in Idaho or something."
There were three men in the book from Texas, a rodeo cowboy from Conroe who does not wish to be identified, Brian from Austin and Bruce from San Angelo. Sadly, Bruce from San Angelo was diagnosed with liver cancer two months ago and died just as Pasfield arrived in Texas on his book tour.
"I thought I'd be seeing Bruce in Texas and I'm just devastated that he's gone. He's the fifth man in the book to die since I completed it. It's just sad and heartbreaking how unfortunate this book has become a tribute to some of them now. His nephew told me how thrilled Bruce was to get a copy of the book and feel that he had done his part, he had contributed his story."
Scott Pasfield signs and discusses Gay in America today at 6 p.m. at Rice University, Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library, 3rd Floor. The event is free.
Turn the page for more images from Scott Pasfield's Gay in America.
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