New York photographer Scott Pasfield had a portfolio filled with celebrities and a successful career but wasn’t quite fulfilled creatively. Pasfield had been searching for a project, something to reignite “a passion again in my work, that had sort of been dying.” Pasfield recalls advice he heard that when searching for a concept, the best way to start is in your world; in what you know. After years of soul searching he realized: “For me, that was gay men.”
The resultant book, “Gay In America” has intimate portraits of men from Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and every state in between. For three years Pasfield traveled over 54,000 miles to photograph over a hundred different men and collect their stories. In it there are cowboys, priests, architects, fathers, brothers, sons, and neighbors.
“Their stories are really abut the human condition, and about love, and loss, and life, and how being gay affects those things,” explains Pasfield. “ You don’t have to be gay to appreciate them and learn from them.”
One story comes from Martin & Peter, the former is the brother of Columbus native Lynn Stecklein. When Martin’s liver was failing, Peter his partner became a living donor without hesitation. “He and Peter just celebrated twenty years together,” says Stecklein. “He’s a wonderful man, fighting for his life.” Martin came out to Lynn while she was going through a divorce and she says, simply: “It means absolutely nothing to me that my brother is gay. I love my brother no differently than if he were married with three kids.”
Both Lynn and Scott share the same sentiment about the positive impact of “Gay in America” can have. Whether it’s someone struggling with their own sexual identity or a parent learning how to cope, Lynn shares the crux of the message: “[It is] a book that says, ‘It’s ok.’ ‘You’re ok.’ Take a look at these people from every state in the United States. They’re ok. And you are too.”
“I wish [Gay in America] it existed when I was a kid,” Pasfield divulges. “So I made this book for kids. You know, that you could go anywhere, do anything, and be anyone you want as a gay man.”
What does it mean to be gay in America? There is no clear answer, no single defining notion. However, that seems to be the point.
“I was able to heal as a gay man myself in many ways through this project in finding wisdom from men all over the country,” says Pasfield. “In it I learned that I’m ok. It’s ok to be gay.”
To purchase the book “Gay in America”, visit your local bookseller or visit www.gayinamerica.us