I was intrigued when I received a request from Dee Dee Renner to do her portrait. Dee Dee is a transgender performer at Play Night Club who has recently been recovering from a diagnosis of leukemia, and the chemo that followed. Earlier this summer she started to feel more and more exhausted, and when she went in to find out why, she received the bad news. She has spent most of her time since then going through what has had to be the most intense experience of her life.
Her support system has been amazing. Her mom, Joy, has been here with her the whole time. Her dad has spent a great deal of time in Nashville with her as well. Her employers and co-workers at Play have rallied to encourage
her, and there has been a page on Facebook, Prayers for Dee Dee, to keep her friends and fans up to date on her progress. On July 15, a benefit was held for her at Play, and she made a special Skype appearance. The exciting news now is that she will be at Play for her first live performance since before her diagnosis on September 6.
I have had the opportunity to photograph several people in the drag and transgender community, and I was honored that I was the person Dee Dee chose to record this time of her life. She wanted a really artistic portrait, not a promo head shot, to show that she was still herself, even though her hair was missing and the trials of her battle were showing on her face. I knew what she had in mind, and our photo shoot was, by its nature, very intimate. At the end, I was satisfied I had captured what we had in mind.
I believe that Dee Dee is on her way to a complete recovery, and I was inspired by her positive energy and strong attitude. I am sharing this photo as a tribute to her will to survive, and because it shows that even in the hardest of times, we can rise above the trouble and see the light ahead.
Dee Dee and Joy