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  • Gay in America
  • Photographed by Scott Pasfield
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9781599621043
  • Our Price: $45.00
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Gay in America

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Synopsis

Synopsis

In this first-ever photographic survey of gay men in America, stereotypes are laid to rest and an intimate, honest picture of contemporary gay life is revealed through stunning personal portraits and narratives.
 
Photographer Scott Pasfield traveled 54,000 miles across all fifty states over a two-year span gathering stories and documenting the lives of 140 gay men from all walks of life. At turns joyful and somber, reflective and celebratory, each narrative and image is an enlightening look into the variety of gay life in the United States.
 
Pasfield’s striking and perceptive portraits reflect the same beautiful diversity found in any sampling of our population. Each of these men is unique and whole, complex and fallible, just as we all are. They come in every size and shape, every religion, color, profession, and background. There are farmers, writers, doctors, lawyers, artists, teachers, students; there are fathers and husbands, activists, and business men. Some are successful, some are struggling, some are political, some are wealthy, some are wounded, and some are deeply content.
 
Their commonality draws from a single shared trait: their homosexuality. These are men who are attracted to men, and have chosen not to disguise that truth. For many, there have been harsh consequences to this decision, but also deep rewards. The message that prevails is one of great hope that true equality is close within our reach, if only we would grasp it.
Scott Pasfield|Author Q&A

About Scott Pasfield

Scott Pasfield - Gay in America

Photo © Platon

Scott Pasfield is a New York-based portrait photographer. His work has appeared in numerous publications, from BlackBook to Fortune, Poz to Gotham. His clients include the Independent Film Channel, Time Inc., and the American Red Cross. With a background in architecture, Pasfield's portraiture utilizes the interplay between space and subject to reveal new dimensions within each. Combining a practiced eye and a relaxed attitude with a determination to develop meaningful projects, Pasfield is intent on making a difference through art. Gay in America will travel as an exhibition, where Pasfield, who has taught photography seminars and workshops, will also speak to communities across the country about a work that defines and contextualizes contemporary gay culture. www.scottpasfield.com

TERRENCE MCNALLY is the recipient of four Tony Awards for his plays Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class and his books for the musicals Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Among his other plays are Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Lips Together, Teeth Apart. In 2010 there was a celebration of his work at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Most recently, he was presented with the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.

TOM KIRDAHY has dedicated his professional and personal life working for LGBT causes. Kirdahy spent nearly two decades as an attorney providing free legal services to people with HIV/AIDS, helping to create projects at Gay Men's Health Crisis, Bronx AIDS Services, and more. He currently serves on the board of the NYC LGBT Center. Kirdahy lives on the east end of Long Island and in New York City with his spouse, the playwright Terrence McNally.

Author Q&A

An interview with Scott Pasfield, creator of Gay in America, by Aaron McQuade, associate news director of GLAAD. www.glaad.org
 
AM: Where did the idea for this book come from?
 
SP: It came out of many different places, actually. I needed to reinvent myself for my career; I felt I had reached a stagnant point in my artistic life.  When you turn your hobby into your career, it takes a lot more effort to keep the love alive, especially when the economy made it very difficult for me. I felt that if nobody was going to give me my ideal job, or project, or thing to prove what I could do, instead of waiting for it I decided to go out there and create it on my own. 
 
So I decidedly took an attempt at writing down all the things I needed to change in my life, and those included wanting to love photography again, and also make friends, and travel, and do good for people.  I think we’re given a set of talents in life, and you can make money with those talents, which is good, but you can also try to use them for the better.  I decided if I could create a project that would help something – people always tell you to shoot what you love. You have to start with yourself.
 
The epiphany came one night at home. I was online, I think I was on Craigslist, but I was looking at all the listing of the states and cities, and it just dawned on me. I decided that I would go around, meet someone from every state, and photograph them in the hopes that I could do a book that would change opinions and educate some people.  And that started with shooting who I was and what my passions were. 
 
AM: What is it about this project that speaks to you as an artist?
 
SP: I‘ve learned so much from shooting these portraits, I have much more confidence now walking in and meeting somebody that I didn’t know before.  The challenge – usually when you’re doing portraits for a job you’ll have time to set up, you’ll scout the location, you’ll know what you’re walking in to, you’ll task an assistant with the lighting, you’ll shoot Polaroids – now you’ll just shoot with your regular camera and check it out – so when the person walks in that you’ll ultimately photographing, everything’s all set.  It’s relaxed, the room is peaceful and calm, and it gives them a great sense of well-being.
 
But with a project like this, where I was traveling around, not knowing anything about the location, I found it very challenging and good for me.  It was a way to really push myself and my art; you show up and have the person that you’re going to be photographing with you the whole time, you have to engage them, keep them involved in the process without boring them, and move fast so that it can happen quickly. Usually two to three hours is what it takes me to do one of these shoots, so somebody has to dedicate a little bit of time to it.  But I think the challenge is just never knowing, and really pushing yourself to try and get something to happen in front of the camera that is an insight into that person.
 
AM: Was the choice to shoot these on the home turf of your subjects a storytelling choice or was it an artistic challenge choice on your part?
 
SP: Both.  I think that going to someone’s environment and shooting – a lot of times I used a wide angle lens where I would capture a lot of the environment in addition to some tighter shots – but usually, it was their environment shots, and that told a great story.  It usually speaks tons about people. And they were also very comfortable in their environment, so I wouldn’t want to take everybody and pull them out of their house, and shoot them against a white, seamless background.  It really doesn’t tell much about the person.  For this project, I think to educate people and give them a glimpse into gay men’s worlds, shooting in their homes was needed.
 
AM: Why gay men?
 
SP: That goes back to sort of shooting what I am, and what I know.  I originally thought that I would like to try and shoot men and women from every state, but I really think that a woman, or a lesbian, has to go out and do that project, to make it as strong, and to be one of them, as this project is for me and gay men.
 
AM: This book is a collection of essays in addition to a collection of portraits, each portrait coincides with an essay.  Which should people look at first?
 
SP: Well, they’re on a spread, where each spread will have one essay and one photograph.  They will be varied in terms of layout and design, but you can’t help but look at the photography first.  And then you’re going to read the story, and they are so beautifully written.  That was, first and foremost, why I selected everybody, was those stories.  They had to write me a story that was unique and from the heart and honest, and it became very easy for me to decipher who was genuine in what they were talking about. So I chose everybody for their stories, and once I started the ball rolling, I tried never to repeat something very similar, or repeat similar viewpoints, so I tried to vary it as much as I possibly could.
 
Even now, after having familiarity with these stories for years, as I read them, they’re so beautiful and powerful, and they’re so emotional for me. Hopefully that will resonate with people, too, because it is the stories that I think are going to have the most effect.
 
AM: Why the focus on every state?  Why a state-by-state thing and not just a set number of people from every region?

SP: It was a goal of mine – I said: fifty states, I have to go to all of them. It became an obsession.  And I hadn’t been to a lot of the states, so I really just saw it as a great goal for myself.  I think as a collection it really proved to be fascinating.
 
AM: Were there certain places that surprised you?  Did you find somebody in Boston who you would have expected to see in Montana?
 
SP: Oh, absolutely.  You’d always get big cowboy types coming from real urban areas, or the Midwest, but they’d also be typical, too.  In the West I got a lot of farmers and ranchers, and cowboys writing to me.  But it was always surprising to see who wrote. They were varied all over. 
 
AM: Did any of the stories make you laugh out loud?
 
SP: Not so much funny stories; more often, I think they made me cry more than anything. So many gay men have such a tough tine becoming at peace with themselves and their families, and growing up in our country.  It’s not easy.  Things are changing, there’s hope, but more often than not it was giving men a great opportunity to tell their story.  And a lot of them had hard stories to tell, or tough things to say.
 
AM: Did the instructions specifically lead people to go down that road, or is that what naturally came about? Did you say, “Tell me your story?”
 
SP: Usually I did use the word “story.” And I did say that I was traveling the county. I think the ad went something like – “looking for great, out men who live their life without second guessing, and are proud of who they are, and happy with where they live.  I’m looking for men to share their stories about that, to some degree.  I’m also looking for your path to where you’ve come from, stories of coming out, or growing up, or your family, or careers,” or things like that, that define them in addition to being gay.  So I would ask for coming out stories, and not many men have coming out stories that are so good, but I didn’t want to have it just be that. 
 
AM: Would a book like this have made a difference to your own coming out story?

SP: Absolutely. I wish there was a book like this when I was growing up. And that is why I did it, really, because I wanted this book.  I wanted to know that I could live wherever I chose, in any place, in any state, in any situation, in any city, in any town, and do whatever I wanted. I think there’s a tendency today for people to stereotype gay men as being flamboyant, drag queens, hair dressers, florists, and while that’s all true, and we do have a creative tendency and flair, that is certainly not it.  There is everything, for every gay man out there. That was one of the beauties, is that I was shocked sometimes to find these tough, rugged men, who had never been into a gay bar in their life, or were just living their life happy, in a monogamous relationship, and doing their thing. And I said, if I knew that was an option, earlier, it would have made more of a difference to me to accept myself earlier and to say, I’m not alone.
 
AM: What is your favorite photograph in the book?
 
SP: I don’t think I have one, really.  There are so many, they all have such memories attached to them.  It’s been so great to work with Greg, the designer who’s putting the book together, who is super talented. To see all of my photographs with new eyes over the last couple of months as it’s come together has been awesome, because some of the pictures that weren’t my favorite before are now, so it’s ever-evolving, I think.
 
AM: Tell me what you want people to get out of this book.  You mentioned your story, and obviously gay people who aren’t out themselves, they’re going to get one thing out of it, but what about somebody who’s never met a gay person?
 
SP: I think that to educate people, on the whole, to the fact that so many in their world are probably gay and quiet about it and they have no idea, understanding their stories and helping them relate to those people is hopefully what this book will do.  I think that people are going to connect with these people and not be threatened by them, and not be scared of their effeminate qualities, or their flamboyant qualities. 
 
We decided to put Dan Choi on the cover, and I think that because he’s in uniform on the cover and it’s a hot topic this past year for gay rights with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it’s such a shocking image; it’s not what most people would think of for a representation of gay America.  You think of a couple holding hands, getting married, or something that might turn a lot of folks off, a lot of people that are a little hesitant about gays, or are conservative, I’m hoping that they pick this book up and they read the stories. Some of my family is so conservative, in showing them the project through the years and having them read the stories, I’ve seen a lot of change from them, and they’ve learned that gays can have stories of love, loss, life, tragedy, happiness, and success like everybody can. It’s been an eye-awakening experience for them to read that we’re all alike. 
 
AM: Any last thoughts?
 
SP: I think it’s needed in our time and culture.  With what’s going on in our country with gay rights, the voting bloc, with issues being decided for us and how we live our life, every one of us needs to do what we can to make life better for ourselves.  I think if more people did that and chose to take their love, and do something good with it, we’d make more change in this world.  I’m becoming a reluctant activist with this project, and I think it’s a great thing, and I think more people should do it if they can. 
 
AM: Do you think of your subjects as activists?
 
SP: Many of them are, absolutely, just for taking that step and coming forward, they become activists too. The stories are what it’s all about, so they are activists even if many of them never stepped foot in a gay and lesbian center, or marched in a parade, or wanted to change anybody’s opinion, they just wanted to live their lives, but by doing that, that is what’s going to change peoples’ minds.
 
--

Praise | Awards

Praise

Gay In America by Scott Pasfield Chosen for the 2012 Rainbow Projects List (American Library Association). The Rainbow Project is a joint project of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.  The Rainbow Project presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age. More: http://glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/archives/953

"Gay In America captures our diversity, our joys, and our loves—and the
undeniable contribution we make to American culture."
- Dan Savage, author and editor of It Gets Better

"Sprawling, moving, and lively, Scott Pasfield's Gay in America shows what being a gay male looks, sounds, and feels like in today's USA. An inspiring cross section."
- Michael Musto, Village Voice

"Gay in America is a validating explosion of raging positivity. Wish I'd had it when I came out."
- Simon Doonan, author of Eccentric Glamour

“Scott Pasfield’s captivating new book, Gay in America, featur[es] images of 140 men from each of the 50 states shot against the backgrounds of their homes: a modernist living room in Manhattan, a nighttime beach in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, the battered backdoor of an apartment in Baltimore...a remarkable range of race, class, and age.”
- Out Magazine

"The stereotype of gay men is that they all live in urban environments and prance around in designer clothing saying 'fierce' and giving straight women makeovers. We all know that in reality gay men are much more diverse and mundane. Here is a real picture of what today's gay world is like."
- Brian Moylan, Gawker.com

His stirring portraits and interviews of out and proud gay men living in all fifty states are intended to help young homosexuals seeking acceptance and understanding from others as well as from themselves…With his offering, which encourages all who spend time with it, gay or straight, to be true to themselves, one senses that he is finally home.
–  Julie Eakin, Foreword Reviews
(Gay In America was the July-August cover. Goes to all US libraries, indie book stores)

"For people living in communities where there are no comfortably out GLBT people, this is essential. Pasfield’s photographs are poignant, telling and beautiful. Without even reading the words the person has written, you can see their story on their face and in their eyes. Pasfield has drawn out the personality of each man in this book, and young adults will respond to these people as simply people. The stories they tell will make teens laugh, cry and most importantly relate. As Pasfield states in his introductory words, 'I want young people to have it as a constant resource as they move forward in their lives…' This is one of the most important gay books a library can offer teens."
- Lynn Evarts, Voice of Youth Advocates

The book features beautifully striking portraits of men, accompanied by their stories, which range from humorous to tragic…providing clear evidence that homosexuality and masculinity are not incompatible…a fascinating look at the impact of location on the gay experience…The book is not a refutation of the traditional gay stereotypes that are still present about the gay male community. Rather, it is a testament to the idea that there is no clear “gay America.”
– Adam Polaski, The Good Men Project

Like the flag that flies over them, this tapestry of gay male testosterone is a field of stars, uniformly similar yet snowflake-unique in its genetic stitching—each star framed by the bold, ordered stripes of Pasfield’s vision…glowingly, marvelously, fearfully individual. Visually, the book glows…presented with deceptive simplicity, identified by first names only, and their city and state…This seemingly rudimentary cataloging of subjects takes on a startling profundity:
they are every man. And they are everywhere.
–  Steven Foster, OutSmart Magazine, Houston, TX

Awards

WINNER 2011 IPPY Award

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