Felicia is one of the most amazingly unique women I know... (and I am fortunate to know a lot of amazing women!) She has a heart of pure gold, an infectious laugh, loves Stephen King and the Beatles, is honest to a fault, a fiercely protective mother of three, a good wife, daughter, and sister, and is one of the most unconditionally loyal and selflessly generous friends I have ever been blessed to have in my life. --I have, on many occasions, felt less than worthy, but always thankful.
Of course, lots of people have good hearts, great laughs, and like the Beatles, but it takes a truly remarkable human being to give the gift of life as a human incubator... You see, Felicia is a gestational surrogate (pictured here in her third surrogacy).
Most of us hear talk of those freakish women who feel utterly divine during their pregnancy with the whole glowy thing and nesting instincts, baking and cleaning and multitasking like there is no tomorrow. --Personally, I was NOT one of those women; I was in fact a miserable cow and believed such women to be something of nonsense and myth conjured from a delusional male rumor mill... alas, it’s true, they are out there and Felicia is one of those freakish women. And, ever resourceful with her golden heart and generosity, she chose to use her powers for good, to help others who desperately wanted the family she has.
I won’t get into the details of the whole surrogacy process except to say, there is heck of a lot more involved than just sticking the proverbial bun in the oven; it’s impossible for me to imagine all the various testing, legalities, and poking and proding piled atop a 9 month sentence, but that’s why she’s the surrogate, not me.
This last pregnancy has a beautiful story, with a somewhat non-traditional twist... A tale of a loving and devoted, happily married couple unable to have a child of their own. Except that this baby has two adoring fathers. --That’s right, a happily married gay male couple - who obviously don’t live in California...
Which is what inspired me to do this shoot.
In November 2008, California passed the ‘Marriage Protection Act’ also known as Proposition 8, which declares that marriage is only valid between a man and woman in the state of California. As a form of photographic silent protest, The NoH8 Campaign was born, created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner, Jeff Parshley.
Personally, I am of the mind to live and let live and continue to wonder why we all just can’t get along. The reason boils down to the vast majority of people who vehemently believe that their way is the right and only way, forever and ever amen, period. Well, if that were so, then I think our Creator might have seen this coming, given pause in mid-creation of mankind, and went back to the drawing board. Besides, with regard to the Proposition 8 argument, heterosexuals in traditional marriages have no room to dispute who holds the title when it comes to domestic dysfunction... and after all, who produces more homosexual babies than heterosexuals?
A couple of weeks before she was due to pop, a small group of awesome people moved mountains and schedules to make this photo happen. Of course, I could have snagged any pregnant model and captured similar symbolism, but the legacy would not have been there... the legacy of love that is this baby’s life.
During make up, Felicia explained why she agreed to be a surrogate for this baby’s fathers as only Felicia could (to paraphrase):
“What is most important to me is that the baby is wanted and loved. When a gay couple chooses to have a baby, it’s most certainly not the result of a drunken one-night-stand or a failure in birth control. It’s not like a gay guy wakes up in a bad relationship and pees on a stick and oops, ‘I’m pregnant; we’re gonna have a baby’ and deals with it. They’ve thought about this and planned for a long time, they’ve gone through a lot, and spent a lot; that baby is wanted very much.”
And it’s true.
Shouldn’t the most important provision in any child’s life be that they are loved and wanted? Not race nor gender nor nationality, not faith nor social status, and not sexuality. If a child is loved and wanted, that is the foundation for a successful, confident, and genuine soul who will grow up to make a beautiful mark upon the world. Everything else is just a learning process.
The shoot itself was a lot of fun. More good times to add to my memory banks with Felicia. --As with any shoot, there is always one photo that stands out from all the rest. Often it’s not the one I originally envisioned, but it’s clear when I see it, it is The One. This photo is IT. And I love it. I love everything it stands for -- peace and love and hope - hope that one day, in spite of ourselves, maybe we can just all get a long.
Baby (boy) G. was born April 6th. Both of his fathers were present at his birth with front row seats, no doubt reaffirming their sexuality (anyone who has witnessed the miracle of birth knows exactly what I mean). I was fortunate enough to meet them both and Baby G. The love and excitement in the room was intoxicating and infectious. I felt like a happy spy witnessing something truly wonderful, special, and amazing, a historic cornerstone in our changing times, as I watched this new happy family discovering themselves, like any new family beginning the next chapter of their lives... And of course, Felicia was right, this baby is so loved, so wanted... and what a lucky little lamb.
Then one of the dads asked if I’d like to hold him. Are you kidding me? What sane woman would pass up the opportunity to hold and snuggle a newborn? I practically threw my camera down. And then there he was, nestled in the crook of my arm, light as a feather and sleeping like an angel, smelling of Heaven.
He was beautiful and perfect. Just like love.
“They are preserving the sanctity of marriage, so that two gay men who've been together for twenty-five years can't get married, but a guy can still get drunk in Vegas and marry a hooker at the Elvis chapel! The sanctity of marriage is saved!”