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Photo Exhibit Portrays Wisconsin Same-Sex Couples

Vance & Brendan by Jeff Pearcy
Vance & Brendan by Jeff Pearcy

In recent years, the battle surrounding legal recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions has grabbed headlines. Voices from the political and religious arenas have had their say. Often lost in the debate have been the voices of same-sex couples themselves. Shall Not Be Recognized, an exhibit of portraits of 30 Milwaukee-area same-sex couples in long-term relationships on display in the UU Gallery for the month of June, gives voice to these same-sex couples. You are invited to look at their photos, read their stories, and decide for yourself.

The state of Wisconsin has a constitutional amendment, approved in 2006, that bans both marriage equality and civil unions in the state. Shall Not Be Recognized is the creation of photographer Jeff Pearcy and author Will Fellows in response to this amendment. Pearcy will present a gallery talk on the exhibit on Friday, June 6 at 7 pm, followed by an opening reception.

“I became deeply angry when the amendment to Wisconsin’s Constitution was approved, banning legal recognition of same-sex unions,” Pearcy said. “My wife, Jerilyn, and I had given money to the effort to defeat the amendment, and she was also an active door-to-door canvasser on the issue. We considered getting a divorce as an act of civil disobedience, thinking that rights denied to some should not be enjoyed by any. Instead, I returned to my photojournalist roots. I have long known the power of pictures and words to precipitate change.”

“As a gay man, I know how it feels to be told that the committed relationship I’ve been in for many years is not worthy of legal recognition,” Fellows added. “When Jeff asked me to create this portrait exhibit with him, I immediately agreed. I was struck by the particular significance of this project being a gay-straight collaboration. Most important to me was the chance to work with a sensitive photographer to create an exhibit that portrays the lives of marginalized families. The couples in this exhibit have been in committed relationships for periods ranging from seven years to 50 years.”

From June 1 through June 29, 2014, Shall Not Be Recognized will be displayed in the UU Gallery at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County, 10341 Hwy. 42 in north Ephraim. On Friday, June 6 there will be a gallery talk by the exhibit’s photographer Jeff Pearcy at 7 pm, followed by an opening reception in the gallery with complimentary refreshments. Gallery hours are 1-3 pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and 11am-12:30 pm Sunday. For more information call 854-7559.