Seeing Double

I first saw Dylan Stephens modeling in women’s clothing on a runway show that was part of Nashville Fashion Week. I have enjoyed getting to know him, and photographing him. We did a series of photos using Dylan in a make-believe relationship between two people. Both the male and the female were Dylan. Dylan is a beautiful person who can be drop dead gorgeous as either gender. He has modeled both as a male and as a female. He is also a very fine actor, mostly recently appearing in a short film by Bralyn Stokes, “Silas.”

Edward and Mike. Making it Legal.

Edward and Mike had their Commitment Ceremony 22 years ago, but yesterday they really got married in the legal sense of the word. I have known Edward since we started working together in 1983, and have watched him go from the hot, hunky number who came to work in leather shorts and nipple rings to being a loving husband in a beautiful relationship that I have watched deepen over the decades. I have always felt that Edward and his partner, Mike, are just as married as Fred and I are, and should have just as many legal rights as we have. And now, thanks to SCOTUS, they do. Yesterday they made it legal in a simple ceremony with a few friends and family members. Most of us were teary-eyed and all of us were so happy for them. Afterwards we all came over to the porch at Casa Ellis and had cupcakes and champagne.
Mike summed up the whole thing beautifully, and this is exactly how I feel. The Supreme Court ruling not only made their marriage legal, it validated their humanity and identity. All those times when they were growing up and society subtly made them feel “less than” are now done with once and for all. Equal means equal. As good as. A huge battle in the movement for Equality has been won. While there is still a long way to go, I believe that the day is coming when a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity will not be a big deal. So, while there is still much to fight for, I am personally feeling great joy right now. I know that there are many, many couples like Mike and Edward who are “making it legal.” And I also know that there are many LGBT people who may not have partners, and some who perhaps are in no rush to get married, who are feeling validated, accepted, and equal. This ruling was about a lot more than marriage. It was a milestone. It is truly celebration time! And it’s about time, too.

You Just Can’t Keep Him Out of the Kitchen….That’s Arnold Myint

This past March, Fred and I were staying in a lovely house in San Cristobal in Chiapas, Mexico. We always invite our friends to join us when we are in Mexico, and we were delighted when our friend Arnold, who is currently competing on the FoodNetwork Star show, had a break in filming and decided to head South. Fred and I gave some serious thought as to where we’d take Arnold to eat while he was with us there for five days. We put together a list of places we’d found. San Cristobal is not the food town that Oaxaca is, but there are some interesting places to try local food.

When Arnold arrived he was a bit tired from his long layover in Mexico City and his first activity was a little nap. But then, when he got up he announced that he felt like cooking. Well, Fred and I have known and loved Arnold (and his cooking) for years and we would never say no to that offer. So, off Arnold and I went to the markets to gather our ingredients. And then back to the house where the magic happened. A great meal and wonderful evening with three close friends.

He is doing really well on Food Network Star, which airs on Sunday nights at 8. In fact, he has been in the top three for the first three shows. He is a genius in the kitchen, and I love it when we just hang out and he cooks. Not just because the food is always delicious, no matter how simple, but also because watching him do it is like seeing a moving meditation.

Self-Portrait…a study in lights and shadows

Self-portrait in San Miguel de Allende
Self-portrait in San Miguel de Allende

I enjoy taking self-portraits. Actually, I usually have some help with these from Fred, my faithful shutter pusher.  I fell in love with the lighting and atmosphere in La Mezcalaria, a restaurant in San Miguel with a Oaxacan theme, and thought it would be an interesting place to take pictures. I always make sure the camera settings are the way I want them while I use Fred as a “body double.” Then I turn it over to him, and have him keep shooting until I see one I like, which usually takes dozens of shots to get that right one. But, the real fun for me, in any photo, is PhotoShop. Self-portraits are a way that I explore my state of mind.

The Photo 101 assignment today was a photo with dark shadows and mystery. I immediately thought that this one would be the one to use.

Juana Cata…Immortalized by a Huge Statue

Juana Catalina
This enormous metal statue of Juana Catalina Romero, the heroine of Tehuántepec, known simply as Juana Cata.

This statue stands guard at the entrance of Tehuántepec, a small town in southern Oaxaca. Juana Cata was a woman of power and of fashion. Her style inspired the looks of Frida Kahlo, and the women of southern Oaxaca still dress in the same manner, an homage to her memory and to feminism in Mexico. She devoted herself to helping the people of Tehuántepec, and her legend lives on there. This statue celebrates the woman who was romantically involved with, and strongly influenced, Presidente Porfirio Diaz during the Mexican Civil War. Her presence was so powerful that the town of Tehuántepec remains a matriarchy and women rule the town.

Connections…a great part of life

DSCF1130xb

My husband, Fred, with our “son”, Andrew Pentecost, and our “son-in-law,” Kyle Brougham, after a lovely brunch at Balthazar.

When I think of the word “connect”, I think of connections with other people. One of life’s greatest treasures is the people we connect with. Fred and I have become deeply connected to Andrew Pentecost and his fiancé, Kyle Brougham. I met Andrew a few years ago when he did makeup for my dear friend Arnold  Myint/Suzy Wong. (I could also write a book about my connection with Arnold.) Somehow, in some organic way, Andrew and I became very close friends. At some point we realized that our relationship had evolved into something closely resembling Mother/Son. Fred and I have no children, but if we did, I think Andrew could easily be that child. We are so happy that Andrew has also made a connection with Kyle, a wonderful guy that we enjoy spending time with. So, the four of us have become a little family unit. Andrew and I remain very close, and we frequently take some time for just the two of us. He is like my therapist, and I think I play that role for him as well.

This photo was taken by me last Spring when the four of us met in New York. I am hoping that in the future we will have many adventures together in lots of places. Of course, we are also hoping that Marriage Equality will become universal, as these two guys were definitely made for each other. And, like any “Mom,” I want my son to be happy.