We Stood Transfixed
a brief photo documentary of the Sewanee gay and lesbian community
by Robert C. Parker
“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?"
When I originally set out to document the lesbian and gay community within Sewanee, I expected to document a large community ablaze with vitality and energy—a group incensed with a righteous indignation propelling itself forward to actively fight for acceptance and equality in a town unwilling to listen. What I found instead was a collection of smaller, more personal communities shut off in part to themselves and others, unsatisfied with their level of acceptance but hesitant to undergo the extreme hardships and alienation of actively fighting for change that some may feel should have already occurred. These smaller, more individual communities are not the product of laziness, elusiveness, or lack of care; rather they are reactions to the larger Sewanee community that accepts the gay and lesbian community in title rather than in action.
The subjects within my work, Jerin and Lyle, are representative of these smaller, more individual communities that I found to exist within Sewanee’s lesbian and gay community. Though energetic, focused, and loving, I discovered that while Jerin and Lyle desire to become an integral part of the community, a certain level of comfort is lost, and a certain attitude is adopted, when they step beyond the steps of their home and onto the sidewalks of Sewanee. As a result, a smaller community has formed within their home and jewelry store in downtown Sewanee where they can function without outside judgment. This project is an exploration of that personal community that they have formed, but can only begin to explore the unspoken underpinnings of who these men really are when unmasked.