Queer Love in Color Tells a More Inclusive Love Story

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A couple named Mike and Phil
Mike and Phil photographed at home in Detroit, Michigan by Jamal Jordan.

On Easter Day in 1967, Mike attended his first church service at a new congregation in Detroit, Michigan. It was there that he met Phil—a fellow newcomer who, unlike himself, had been out his whole life. It wasn’t long before they moved in together—first outside the city, then at a farmhouse that cost $90 a month. And, as Phil told the visual editor, journalist, and documentarian Jamal Jordan, they’ve spent “every night together for over forty years.”

Jordan traveled tens of thousands of miles across the globe intent on meeting queer people of color like Mike and Phil. What started as a photo series for the New York Times burgeoned into Queer Love in Color, a collection of 40 families’ stories and portraits published just during this year’s Pride Month.

“I have always envied straight people for their total dominion over happy love stories,” Jordan writes. “In stories about queer people of color, particularly trans people of color, sub­jects are often presented as victims.” The people he encountered did share stories of trauma, isolation, and feeling invisible. But the book is really a celebration of how each person (and pair) eventually learned to love themselves—despite “every cue in the world tell[ing them] it’s impossible.” Get to know a few of them, here.

Nadine and Sze’s meet-cute in 2003 couldn’t be more different from Mike and Phil’s. Nadine caught Sze’s eye when she left a bell hooks quote in the comments section of her Ani DiFranco fansite on LiveJournal, at which point she sent Nadine a mix CD. Upon receiving it, she told Jordan, “I was immediately wooed.”

Photo by Jamal Jordan.

Enchantra and Antwanette photographed in Mobile, Alabama.

Photo by Jamal Jordan.

Kay and Blaine, who now live in Oakland, California, first met at a party in Philadelphia in 2018. A few months after that, Kay was physically attacked. “Like, yeah, you read the statistics,” Kay told Jordan. “You hear this is the most violent year for transgender people in recorded history. You know that, statistically speaking. But then it’s you. I never thought I would be physically beat the fuck up in public in New York City.” Friends came to their support, but the only one they wanted to see was Blaine. “We have worked through a lot of trauma, a lot of things that we’ve experienced individually,” they continued. “But we’ve built our relationship through that, supporting each other and growing through the most difficult times of our lives.”

Photo by Jamal Jordan.

In 2016, Carlos became the first-ever openly gay Latino member of Florida’s House of Representatives. The next year, around the same time the Category 5 hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, he went on his first date with Jared, who also had family on the island. Eventually, they reunited when volunteering at a food and supply drive in Orlando. “I saw him and I thought, ‘Oh my god, he’s here, he’s here!,” Carlos told Jordan, who recalls him doing “jazz hands.” He and Jared have come to realize their relationship is bigger than themselves: “I’ve spoken to so many parents with young gay kids, who tell us that we give them hope that their kids are going to be okay.”

Photo by Jamal Jordan.

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