This would be Prop 8 portrait number six. I'm endlessly fascinated how connected we all are through the internet. Does that make me sound old? I first encountered the beautiful work of New York based photographer Frank Louis when pictures he'd taken of the uber hunky Jack Mackenroth from Project Runway season four were splashed around the internet. Those would be some very, very, very important undressed pictures. I followed a link back to its source and discovered Frank's site--- and stayed for a long time. I'm just going to get this out of the way and say that on his site, there are some nude portraits. And they are fantastic. So now you can decide if you'd wish to follow the link to Frank Louis's photography site. Hope you do. I was struck by the intimacy and sensuality of his portraits. There's an instant connection in his portraits and even a playful nature. The models look like they are at ease. Beautiful people in beautiful photographs--- they should be having fun.
After finding his site, I was so inspired by Frank's photos of Jack that I did a drawing based on one of them. At the time, I was doing my usual TIVO drawings of Project Runway. At the end of one of those PR postings, I included that drawings along with a link to Frank's site. You'll see that drawing at the end of this link. Frank noticed hits coming in from my site, sent me a very nice message, and an email friendship was born. Frank let Jack know about my drawings and Jack then emailed me. I sent him that drawing and would like to think that Jack has it displayed in a prized area of his home. Remember how I said I was fascinated by how connected we are?
Beyond gorgeous portraits on Frank's site, you'll see headshots, fashion photos, travel shots, and many are available for purchase. I asked Frank if he'd like to be included in this series and he kindly agreed to participate. I'd like to mention that home page of his site has an End Prop H8te portrait.
Please follow the link to read Frank's thoughts on gay marriage and the passing of Prop 8.
First of all, I would like to thank you David for including me in this series. I think it is wonderful to hear real people discuss this issue and learn of other peoples personal experiences relating to it.
I must say that Prop 8, or as I like to now call it, Prop H8te, is a huge wake up call for me. I have never been much of a political person or an activist and now I feel that I must pull my head out of the sand and get more involved and educated.
Growing up in NYC, I have obliviously benefited from those who came before me and fought back during the late 60's and 70's. It is because of their courage, that I have been able to live a happy and safe life in NYC. At 43 years old, I can't recall a single moment in my life where I felt unsafe in NYC due to the fact that I am a gay man. Sure, there were times where I was called a faggot but not to the point where I felt threatened. And yes, I have on occasion made a wrong turn and ended up in a bad neighborhood where I felt unsafe, but not due to my sexuality. I currently live in the West Village where gays and straights live for the most part in Harmony. Additionally, I came out to my parents and family when I was in my mid 20's, and while they had their difficulties dealing with it, I must say, I am fully supported and loved without condition.
Seeing the movie Milk has also had a huge impact on me. I am embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Prop 6 or really knew who Harvey Milk was. Why hasn't this story been told before? Is it telling that before seeing this movie I knew of Anita Bryant but not of Harvey Milk? I fully understand that I could have taken the initiative to learn more about our plight and our history, but it is not like I am uneducated (I have a Bachelor's of Science Degree from a well respected university and graduated Summa Cum Laude). I have asked many of my gay friends if they knew who Harvey Milk was and what he stood for and I am sad to say that most of them were also not very well versed. Why isn't this taught? I knew about Kennedy, Lincoln and John Lennon. I literally just googled "Assassinations" and was directed to a website that lists under History and Government "Assassinations and Attempts in U.S. since 1865". Harvey Milk is no where to be found.
While I am grateful for having this charmed experience, and realize that this is the way it should be for everyone, it is now obvious to me that this freedom has brought a level of complacency that can not continue. Who is the Harvey Milk of our time? If this can happen in California, it can certainly happen in NYC. I must proactively get involved, start reading The Advocate in addition to the gay rags and use my voice as a photographer to help in anyway that I can.
Thank you so much Frank, it was a true pleasure. Remember to visit his site.
Portrait done with black and sepia india ink on 9" x 12" hot pressed watercolor paper.
Here's how the series is coming along.