All the subjects in this series are gay, lesbian, or transgendered individuals who, after suffering severe persecution in their native countries, have been granted asylum in the United States. Each of these people has a green card and is a legal resident of California.
This project has its roots in a series of portraits of same-sex couples with families that I began in 2003. In 2007 I met Hedi Framm-Anton, an immigration attorney whose practice includes representing LGBT individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. She introduced me to some of her clients and they agreed to be photographed.
It’s my hope that this series gives voice to and makes visible a group of people who otherwise go unnoticed and unacknowledged.
— Nancy Warner
This is what Hedi has to say:
In gaining asylum, my clients are empowered. They are able to use their lifetime memories of abuse and mistreatment to gain legitimacy. Driven from their countries by ridicule and rejection, they find, in gaining asylum, that they are no longer identified by their sexual preference. They blossom and grow. Freed of the chains of being confined within their homosexuality, they embrace their wholeness. They are able to explore all aspects of themselves, discover hidden talents, and become rich and thriving human beings, their sexual preference but a small part of their entire identity.
This photo project is important to me because it brings dignity and pride to my clients. The photographs hint at sadness and pain, yet there is powerful dignity in each subject. Each person is saying: "This is who I am, unvarnished, my life written in my eyes. I have endured much, but I prevail. Yes, I am gay! I will no longer hide, pretend to be straight, or feel shame. Accept me. Respect me. I am human, just like you."
— Hedi Framm-Anton
To bring this exhibit to your community, write to me.