Olivier Ciappa is an artist. He is also a young gay man with strong feelings regarding emancipation. Since he is an artist, Olivier is a very visual person and when trying to find images that would express his vision of equality, he realized he couldn’t. Sure enough there are enough photos out there that show male or female couples, but none of them had that sense of sincerity, of genuity, that Olivier was looking for. And so Olivier picked up his camera and made his own photograph. He shot a self-portrait that also includes his boyfriend and a baby. A real and very serious vision of what Olivier thinks equality means. It’s not just acceptance of gay men and women and giving them the same rights and their heterosexual equals. It’s a simple and basic human right. Withholding other people their rights is denouncing them from being human. It’s stripping someone’s right to choose to live their life the way they want. And no one has the right to do that.
We have talked about this a lot over the past weeks, but it can never be enough. Because these are serious matters and these are turbulent times. Olivier posted his photo on Facebook and in no time this particular image became a symbol for the battle for equality. Not just in France, but on global scale. Olivier started seeing his photo carried by people in protest marches. And he knew he was onto something. And he knew he had to keep moving forward to have his voice, and the voice of so many others, be heard. Or in this case, be seen. The result is Olivier Ciappa’s Couples Imaginaires – or Imaginary Couples – and you will learn all about that a bit later this week. I guess the reason why I’m highlighting this today is this: two weeks ago I finished the letter by saying that words are not always enough. Olivier Ciappa found his way to spread his vision of equality, shared by so many others. And his way is visual. When the city of Paris enthusiastically decided to dedicate an outside public exhibition to Olivier’s work, it didn’t take long before it was vandalized. During one night all his photos were torn and ripped. A horrible act of intolerance, made even worse by the proof shown on security camera’s that the violators were men of good education. You would expect better. But the thing is, that no matter how much actions are held against the fight for equal rights, at the end of the day it supports out cause. Because all it does is show the incompetence and short-mindedness of those opposing. So to all those who still think they can stand in the way of rightful progression – and I know some of you are actually reading this: just let it go. You can’t stop what is right anyway. And equality? That is right. –BM-
Cover photography by Troy Phillips.
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