‘Love & Devotion’ event will feature screening of ‘The Devotion Project’

At the core of the campaign to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide - and to work toward equality, more broadly, for LGBT individuals - has always been efforts to share stories about real peoples' lives and capture real insight into these peoples' joys and struggles. 

This month, an exhibition at The William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia, PA has paired two amazing art projects showcase the stories and images of same-sex couples for 'Love & Devotion,' which will run until February 28. The exhibition features The Devotion Project, a series of 6 documentary-style videos by director and creator Tony Osso, and First Comes Love, a photography and multimedia project by B. Proud featuring more than 70 same-sex couples. 

On February 15, from 3-5pm, the Center will host a special event in the exhibition, featuring a screening of all six films in The Devotion Project series, plus a special appearance by Tony Osso, several couples featured in The Devotion Project, and Freedom to Marry's Digital Director, Michael Crawford. Learn more about the events at the William Way LGBT Community Center HERE.

This year, Freedom to Marry got the chance to speak with Tony Osso and B. Proud about their projects and how they're working to move marriage forward through art. Below are excerpts from each interview - but you can also read the full interviews with Osso and Proud.

Q&A with Tony Osso of The Devotion Project

In your 6-part series, how are each of the videos similar? And what do those similarities communicate about the LGBT community and same-sex couples?

The videos are similar in they all feature LGBTQ couples who are happy and thriving right now. They tell stories of perseverance, openness, obstacles overcome, and lives well lived.  I hope that they communicate that so many of us want so many of the same things, stable relationships, families, homes... and that the idea of ‘otherness’ that separates us is false.

In what ways are viewers impacted by The Devotion Project and the couples featured in the films?

I think the films illuminate a lot of the issues facing the LGBTQ community in a very specific way, while drawing parallels to the universal understanding of marriage, commitment, and love. I address different topics in each film, from parenting to running a business together to meeting later in life, but mostly I wanted to show actual devotion as practiced by people who aren’t often seen through that prism. I hope people are entertained and enlightened, of course, and enjoy them, and maybe see things they haven’t seen before.

Read the full Q&A HERE, learn more about The Devotion Project HERE, watch a shorter cut of one of the videos, "More Than Ever," below and watch all of the films on YouTube HERE.

Q&A with B. Proud of First Comes Love

What motivated you to begin First Comes Love?

It really was a series of things, starting with my 20th anniversary with my partner. That event made us the longest-surviving couple in our families, and for years, we've been the go-to couple for our family.

Shortly after our anniversary was the 2008 election, where President Obama was elected, which was great, but then in the same election, Proposition 8 passed in California - plus a few other ballot measures in Arizona and Arkansas. That really upset me - and my sadness over the election paired with my happiness at my anniversary served as motivation for First Comes Love.

I had just finished a fine art series, and I needed a new project, so I decided to make one that celebrated our relationships and was socially conscious and worked to change some minds on LGBTQ relationships. I decided to celebrate the couples in our community who have been together for a very, very long time. 

What do you most hope audiences take away from First Comes Love?

I know that in many ways, I'm preaching to the choir with First Comes Love - but I think the project does a good job at celebrating all of these couples. I deliberately decided to make the portraits black and white because I wanted to strop away all of the rainbow connotations people have about the LGBT community and challenge the typical view of what's portrayed in the media, which is usually some sort of protest or parade. I wanted to strip these portraits down to the essence of who these people are: Real people, living everyday lives, going through the same things that many other people go through.

I'd eventually like the exhibit to be shown in public places where people unfamiliar with the LGBTQ community can learn more about these people, their lives, and their love. 

Read the full Q&A HERE, learn more about First Comes Love HERE, and contribute to the success and growth of the project HERE.