Attached Detached is a photographic and narrative series that profiles LGBTQ+ couples and single individuals from around the globe (USA, Chile, China, France, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Serbia, Singapore, UK, Venezuela, etc.). The work revolves around relationships (past or present) and shares the successes and/or challenges they faced throughout their lives. This includes stories on the intricacies of love and connection with oneself, family and community.
This work began when I was based in China to help give voice to the LGBTQ+ community there after meeting a local community leader. She spoke of the social and legal challenges the community faced. With limited support and cultural, family pressures it is not easy to be openly LGBTQ+ in China. One may think otherwise being in a context absent of conservative, religious doctrine which does make it easier for many expats living there, but 2016 statistics from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) indicated that only 5% of the community in China is public with their sexual and gender background at school, the workplace and in religious communities. No more than 15% feel comfortable coming out to their close friends and family. After moving to Miami in 2016 and feeling the shifting, social landscape, in the aftermath of the 2016 shootings at Pulse, the series continued in Miami. Forty-five portraits have been created to date.
Aesthetically, Attached Detached explores abstract, figurative and partial portraiture. Having explored identity through portraiture since 2004, I wanted to examine the most identifying part of the body (the face) and how focusing only on this part of the individual can transform and extend our understanding of a portrait. Those who chose to be anonymous were protected by a color shield they determined by contributing a set of RGB numbers. This color contrasts their faces captured in black and white. Their portraits are composed within a neutral frame of reference, the square. It is not biased to the traditional, vertically framed portrait or horizontally framed landscape, thus, serving as a metaphor to frame the individual or couple in a non-biased frame of reference. - CYJO
“My parents took me to conversion therapy where a gay man talked about how he was no longer gay and how he was very happy with his wife and kids living as a straight man. He said that if you read the scriptures and believed being gay was wrong, you could change…gay people in my hometown (Mississippi) couldn’t be themselves. Their society did not allow it…But Sean (my partner) reminds me that it’s ok to be you, and he lives this “ok” everyday of his life…Sean has made me feel more adult, confident and passionate about life.” - Hunter, USA
“When I was at my University library, I found a book, Queer Theories, written by Li Yinhe who was famous for her sexual agenda studies. After reading the book, I finally found the world I lived in because it introduced me to gender equality and diversity issues.
My interest in this topic translates into what I do today as Director of the Beijing LGBT Community Center. The center’s vision is that all citizens regardless of gender identity, expression and sexual orientation can experience equality…we’re working with the media to make sure that people know about the diversity within the community and not just group people together. For example, Jing Xin, a famous Chinese modern dancer is also a trans woman who had corrective surgery. And some people think all transgender women are like her. But many transgender people face tough lives and are ostracized from society…we need to continue to support them…If you are living in a closed society where a large rock blocks you from experiencing the rest of the world, I challenge you to climb over it so you can see a more beautiful, brighter and diverse world.” Iron, China
“Our wedding which was held in the UK was a big affair…It was beautiful. At no time did Eddy’s parents (who didn’t speak English) feel left out because many of our non-Chinese friends spoke fluent Mandarin…Every time my mother-in-law took a seat to take a break, another handsome blonde man wearing a kilt (Scotland is my heritage, and we held a ceilidh) engaged her in Chinese and brought her back onto the dance floor. That was the first time she danced in public. And the marriage helped to reinforce our union, especially to Eddy’s parents. We both plan to expand our family with children later on.” Jack, England