Artist Statment

In the wake of the Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida "We Are Family" examines the acceptance of violence and recovery process a community goes through after a mass shooting in America. It aims to create an understanding of a community overwhelmed by grief, address the idea of what Americans have accepted as normal in our culture and elevate consciousness about the damaging legacy we are leaving future generations.

 

Connection to Pulse

Three weeks after I woke up to the news that a community I once called home was attacked at historic numbers I attended the wedding of two Orlando friends, JT and Jenica. Watching JT walk down the isle to marry the woman she met at Pulse 10 years earlier inspired something in me I didn’t expect, I knew it meant I had to stay in Florida and tell this story.

 
 
 
 

(R) JT and I at Pulse Nightclub on June 18, 2009. 

 

On my first night in Orlando I spoke with Rae and Nay, a local newly engaged couple. Nay told me a story about an interaction she had with a customer at work who asked “Are you family?”.  After responding yes, he gave her a hug. Nay had to explain to her coworker, "in the gay community, “family” is used to connect with each other, to let each other know “hey we're the same and we're in this together. We've been through similar things.”

 
 
 

Photographer Bryan Kasm took this image of (L) Bailey and I at Zeba Nightclub in Daytona Beach, Florida. Bailey took me to Pulse for the first time during 2008.

 

Also attended Pulse Nightclub with (R) Anisha Ellis Thomas during those years.