Category Archives: photographs

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons

Cambridge leads us, once again, into the light. Former Mayor Ken Reeves, a Black gay man, is succeeded in office by an “out” and fiery Black lesbian, Denise Simmons. Simmons has been a community activist for many years and played a key role in the same-sex marriage struggle in Massachusetts. On Nov. 18, 2003, the day the decision came down approving same-sex marriage, Simmons spoke at the Rally for Family and Equality at Old South Meeting House. On p.25 of Courting Equality, she is shown at the podium speaking with her little granddaughter, Tara Knight who is waving an American flag. There in the historic meeting house where patriots, including Samuel Adams, planned the Boston Tea Party, Simmons urged us on to protect the decision.

Simmons led the way to assure that her home town of Cambridge would be the first in Massachusetts to issue same-sex marriage license applications. On the evening of May 16, 2004, Cambridge opened the doors of City Hall and one minute after the stroke of midnight began taking marriage license applications. The city ushered in May 17th with enthusiasm and energy.

Ten thousand of us gathered inside and outside City Hall to rejoice in the latest extension of the meaning of liberty and justice for all. Simmons was at the center of it all.

Since May 17, 2004, Simmons has married many couples. She is sought after. We know that it is an honor to be married by someone who fought so hard for our victory.

A Native Hawaiian and an African American gay couple (who are also in Courting Equality on p. 157), told me about the care with which Denise helped them plan their wedding ceremony so that it would do justice to both of their cultural heritages, thus honoring their families as well at their ceremony.

Denise is a political figure with a deep commitment to her community and a keen attention to the people whom she represents literally and figuratively.

Liberty and justice are even more secure in Cambridge and the rest of the state with her in this leadership position!

Marilyn Humphries featured in November Boston Spirit Magazine

If you are in the Boston area, pick up the November/December 2007 copy of Boston Spirit or go to the website to order your free subscription   In this month’s issue, Pat Gozemba has a feature article on Marilyn Humphries’ two-plus decades photographing Boston’s LGBT community. Lots of pictures tracing LGBT activism since the early 1980s.

Book Recounts Marriage Fight in Massachusetts

    Cynthia Laird of the Bay Area Reporter makes the connection between our struggle in Massachusetts for marriage equality and the continuing struggle in California. She sees Courting Equality as a way for gay marriage advocates to share strategies that worked and to take heart that full equality is not just a hope. Laird is particularly impressed with the photographic work of Marilyn Humphries. Read on . . . 

Bay Area Reporter
Published 07/12/2007
by Cynthia Laird
With the marriage equality battle heating up in California, same-sex couples and others might want to check out Courting Equality , a coffee-table book that recounts the battle for gay marriage in Massachusetts.

Released in May to coincide with the three-year anniversary of legal marriage in Massachusetts, Courting Equality (Beacon Press, $34.95) contains more than 100 photos by photographer Marilyn Humphries, with a detailed history by co-authors and spouses Patricia A. Gozemba and Karen Kahn.

In a telephone interview last week, Gozemba, 66, said that she and Kahn, 51, were familiar with Humphries’s photography work well before embarking on the collaboration. But it was a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Evelyn White, who suggested that they do a book, she said.

“The photos were at the heart of the whole thing,” Gozemba said. “Marilyn’s been in Boston for the last 27 years, documenting our community.” More

See Marilyn Humphries photos from the June 14 Con Con

You can see Marilyn’s photographs from the June 14 Constituttional Convention by going to these links:

These images show the power of democracy. With thousands of LGBT people and their allies watching, the Massachusetts legislature voted 151-45 to kill a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Celebrating at the State House

Pat Gozemba & David Wilson

Pat Gozemba (left) of Salem was embraced by David Wilson, one of the original plaintiffs in the landmark same-sex marriage lawsuit. The pair celebrated after the vote outside the House chamber. (Boston Globe photo John Tlumacki)

June 14, 2007 will become a historic day in the annals of equality in this state and in this country. Gov. Deval Patrick said it right. “This is not just a great day for marriage equality–it’s a great day for equality.”

It was a thrill to celebrate with Dave Wilson and with the thousands of marriage equality supporters who came to the State House for this nerve-wracking but historic day.

All of us in the LGBT community and our allies who have spent countless hours and days working on this issue feel grateful to the 151 legislators (75% +1) who voted for equality. New profiles in courage emerged!

Check our blog later for more photos by Marilyn Humphries.

Recording Equality, Brian Jewell interviews Marilyn Humphries, Bay Windows, 5.17.07

Since the 1980s, photographer Marilyn Humphries has been documenting progressive movements. Her camera has brought Bay Windows readers to the front lines of the fight for LGBT equality from the early days of the AIDS epidemic to the advent of civil marriage rights. The photos of the latter — her award-winning photographs of the struggle for marriage equality in Massachusetts — have been collected in the recently published book Courting Equality from Beacon Press. With a history of the movement written by Patricia A. Gozemba and Karen Kahn to accompany Humphries’s historic photos, the book is a moving and invaluable time capsule. Humphries found some time between the book launch and photo assignments to talk with Bay Windows about sharing her eyes with the world. An excerpt appears below. For the full interview.Q: You must be very busy these days.
A: It’s really nice to have a few moments to just think about things instead of the next task. I feel like ever since November of 2003 I’ve been on the hamster wheel from hell, as so many of us have been. And adding the book on to that was like, how much more can you take?

Q: Covering the Constitutional Conventions must be a real marathon.
A: Yeah, those are pretty grueling. You get there at 7 and they get out at midnight. That’s pretty tough.

Q: How do you get through it?
A: Understanding the importance of what’s happening. And there’s [Bay Windows associate editor] Laura Kiritsy in the background saying, ‘Get up there and get that photo!’

Q: You’ve had a unique view of the marriage fight.
A: It’s an amazing viewpoint. Particularly at the State House. It’s like watching a documentary unfold. Everybody else was on the other side of these roped off areas, singing and jostling for position. It was very intense to watch, and very moving. It’s such a privilege and an honor to be in that position and try to capture it.

Q: Is it hard to cover, when you have a personal stake?
A: Yes, that’s something that’s always been difficult. You try to shoot it like you would anything, getting the visual element that tells the story. I hope I’ve been fairly objective about it, but that’s an elusive thing. In a lot of situations there are some really hard things said. Sometimes directed at me personally, because some of the anti-marriage equality people knew I represented Bay Windows. The closest I came to ever becoming deranged was snapping the guy with the giant sign about sodomy. It’s one of the photos in the book. I was trying to get a picture of him  and he came over and started shoving the sign in my face! I said some things to him I probably shouldn’t have. He was baiting me and I shouldn’t have responded. I think that’s the only time I ever did. You know, you’re exhausted, your nerves are frayed … it’s hard.

Q: What about happier events, like the first marriage licenses? I remember I was at Cambridge City Hall when they had the first registrants for gay marriage licenses, and I was just overwhelmed. I couldn’t imagine having to work, too.
A: That was really hard. First, there was so much going on all over. I got into the chambers and got stuck there. It was too hard to get out. I could hear the crowd outside, and I knew there  was stuff happening all over City Hall. It was such chaos, but it was joyous chaos. When I finally got out, it was unbelievably moving to see all those folks. That was intense and wonderful and I’m so glad I was there.

Q: How did the book come about?
A: I was visiting Pat and Karen, who are dear friends of mine. I was showing some of the photos to them and Evelyn C. White of the San Francisco Chronicle, and she said you have to do a book. I said, I’m not capable of doing that. I don’t have the time, and I don’t know how to do it. And Pat and Karen looked at each other and said, then we’ll do it with you. This never would have happened without them. Trying to make a living as a photographer is so time consuming. Anyway, they led the way. 

Q: Is there another boo coming?
A: I don’t think so! But I am working on a project with the Holter Museum of Art in Montana. They’re doing a show about response to the right wing in general. They asked me to submit a few things to represent the gay and lesbian community. How can you represent that in one or two photos? So the curator suggested I put together a Powerpoint slideshow, which let me use about 400 photos. The curator told me that when she watched it, she wept. It made me realize again what an extraordinary state we live in. So I’m hoping this show will travel around the country.

Q: And hopefully the book will have a ripple effect across the country.
A: That’s what it’s all about for us, that people who have not really looked closely at this issue will look at the book and get accurate information on what went on, and see all those joyous faces. I hope the book will change some people’s perceptions.

Q: How did you get started?
A: In college I majored in history and philosophy. Not very practical, but it instilled a sense of historical perspective. When I moved to Massachusetts, I got involved in some of the early feminist and gay and lesbian efforts. Pat was very involved in those, and she knew how to do photography. She taught me how to use a camera, so we’ve come full circle. My first taste of what it could be like was the protests at Seabrook. I went up there with my little camera and took pictures. And Sojourner — this is full circle again, because Karen would come to edit that paper — published some of them. I thought, ‘Wow, I can take pictures and people will publish them?’ That was all it took. And I love being up close to things out of the ordinary. People are so impassioned, so full of a sense of mission and often in the face of scary stuff. It’s so moving to me, whether it’s an anti-war protest or the trans people lobbying or the fight for marriage equality. I love trying to capture that. Those people are so heroic to me. We’re lucky to have a lot of those people in our community,

Q: And lucky to have someone to record them.
A: It’s a delightful thing to record.