Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I had an experience about 15 years ago, walking down Whitmore the street I lived on in Palmer Park, the once gay enclave in Detroit. There was a pile of household items on the curb, the contents clearly delineating the fact that someone had been evicted by the completeness of the contents. Spilled out on the sidewalk were hundreds of loose images of the tenant who happened to be black and gay. This was literally his whole life laying in front of me. The images ran the gambit of emotions and showed a life well lived.

As a photographer it was painful to see this and I collected them up, not missing even one and walked them back home. I later found out that the owner of the photographs had died of AIDS, and given the separation he had with his family, he died alone. Their seemingly cavalier disposal made me angry on so many levels and it made me think about some of my images and what I wanted to leave behind. Ultimately I gave his images to a a friend of his who promised to keep them safe. Around the same time articles in the New York Times and magazines such as VIBE had painted black gay life as one of desperation and sadness, and I was struck because thats not what I saw/experienced. Life has shown me that desperation and sadness abounds for all people regardless of race gender, sexual orientation as it is part of the human condition. I have come to believe the media has portrayed black gay men and women negatively and I want to show a broader story.

So for me this is the genesis of Fierce! Fierce! is a documentary/reportage on black gay life, from the thousands of the images I had taken in the community over the past 25 years.

To my knowledge there have been very few exhibits on this subject. It was important to me that this concept contains written commentary by many of the people featured about their lives and perhaps where they were when the photograph was taken both physically and emotionally. The Photograph is a powerful media that can be used to inform people in a more positive and direct way. Ultimately it would also be cool if a young gay kid of color picked saw these images and said wow! there are lots of people just like me so I must be ok too.

Well the show is finally up! Thanks to my brother Matt and 5 hours of painstaking work! I hope everyone can attend this Fridays opening between 7 and 9 at Affirmations in Ferndale!

In honor of Hotter Than July - Detroit Black Gay Pride! For Details Click : FIERCE!

Note: All images and text (not specified) is copyrighted by Christopher Cushman. This site does not specify or denote the sexual orientation of any model and as such please post your comments accordingly.

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