I live in Seattle which is a pretty damn accepting place for all walks of life, and while we do have our occasionally bat-shit crazy moments, in general, I feel safe and welcome in Seattle anywhere I go.
As an artist, when among the company of other artists in Seattle, I feel really safe. Maybe it’s the tendency to introspection or self-awareness, but I’ve never met a bigoted creative person.
Now the internet is an entirely different world that brings the best and worst of human kind together to intermingle, but I still feel pretty safe when I don’t stray outside of the artistic communities I normally interact with online.
Now I do not feel safe. During a creativeLIVE class on posing, the instructor informed the audience that she would be covering same-sex couple posing, a very real and needed topic. Seattle, recently, legalized marriage equality, and I recently married Cord. Our ~13 years together is longer than some marriages, and now we can be legally recognized and protected, and more states are following suit as they realize that bigotry cannot stand in laws.
The Lounge chat room turned dark after this announcement. This was at the end of the program, so all of the moderators had stepped away from the chat room, but people lingered, expressing their disgust at the idea of two men posing together. Mind you, they did not object to two women posing together, so this transcends any religious or morale arguments in that very fact.
There were three expressing their distaste for the choice of including a male couple in the upcoming broadcast, and how they are tired of being “forced” to watch this. Keep in mind, no one is forcing them. If they do not enjoy the content being provided, tune out.
The gist of the argument went to point of all of the tired, cliche responses that bigots give and have been giving since history started recording. Things like “I don’t care what people do in their bedroom, I don’t want to see it” and “It’s not normal”.
They continue their tirade until I cannot take anymore and leave. I no longer feel welcome or safe in the creativeLIVE chat rooms because of three bigots who feel the need to express their bigotry online. I will continue to go in there, I will probably change my screen name, and I will probably block all three of them so I can just ignore them, but it makes me feel unsafe, unwelcome, and less than human.
I’m a human.
But, there is a silver lining. Going forward, I will offer, for free, a photoshoot to any same-sex couple who is interested in having their portraits done by me. Just contact me on my website russellhay.com and we will set it up. I just ask that you allow me to put you up in my gallery of non-straight couples. This is to allow myself to take the negative energy and turn it around into something positive. (some restrictions may apply)