Photographer Michael Simon captured LGBT families over the course of one month for the Valentine and OutRVA’s new exhibit, “One Love.” With Richmond roots, he left to pursue his career in New York City. “I got a lot of perspective during my time away,” he says. Michael and his family have been back in Richmond for over two years now and have seen Richmond grow. “We marvel at how fortunate we are to have landed here.”
Soon after he returned to Richmond, he connected with OutRVA to show his support for marriage equality during the “Say I Do” Wedding Giveaway. Now, he shares his experiences capturing families for the new exhibit running through September 4.
What was it like shooting this exhibition?
It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of different folks from all areas of the LGBT spectrum.
Why is capturing the LGBT community so important to you as an ally?
They have always been in my inner circle and it’s important to stand up for your friends. In New York, I had been photographing same-sex weddings for years. When I moved here, there was an opportunity to create a small ripple effect in the wedding community.
What did you learn about these families as you were shooting them?
These families just want the little things that a lot of us take for granted. One of our couples had to pick up everything to move to DC just to have their baby so both parents could be on the birth certificate. Then, they moved to Richmond after having the baby -- that baffles me! I didn’t know you had to move 100 miles away to be a parent on paper.
Any stories from these photoshoots you would like to share?
I really enjoy talking to older LGBT couples because they have this incredible perspective on society at large. Some of these couples have been together since the 70s and can’t believe where we are today.
We shot Carol, Mary and their daughter Emily on the Capitol steps. They were co-plaintiffs in the Bostic case. I felt really privileged to chat with them and hear how they spent a significant amount of time trying to have their case heard. It's so ridiculous there are forces at work who want to keep Carol, Mary and Emily from having rights as a family. If those people could be there with me and have this extremely normal conversation with this family, they would have difficulty sticking with their views.
What can we expect when we visit One Love?
You can expect to see 20 loving families who are proud, strong and happy, I hope viewers will be able to see some beautiful differences and wonderful similarities.