The nineteen nineties saw the most rapid construction, a beginning of a normalization in modern history, of the ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ male identity. Other periods in the twentieth century saw more conflict, and pain, and far fewer social gains. The men in these photographs were all individuals who in 1998 were reflecting carefully on the pain of their pasts and the new opportunities of being ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ and, in particular, in being better able to construct their lives, rather than simply adapt to or resist a limited set of public identities.
The nineteen nineties also saw the beginning of the most extensive and extended construction boom in Vancouver’s history. So as these men were exploring how to remake their lives, through to new possibilities and options from better political organization, still constrained human rights protections, and growing cultural tolerance, much of the first century of Vancouver was being obliterated and reconstructed in the most far-reaching process of globalization ever before seen here.
Exposure were with found urban light requiring the subjects to stay still for up to several minutes. The inevitable movements created small blurs that were intentionally painterly. These portraits involved considerable discussion with each individual about how they would like to portray themselves. To some extent their choice of sites and poses paralleled shifts in their personal lives, away from identities defined primarily as activists and sexual outlaws, to personal statements defined by more nuanced and personal desires, and dreams, as well as relationships to Vancouver, The Terminal City.
Ryan & Ryan, roof of Railtown Studios in Gastown, 321 Railway Street, Vancouver, August 1998 #4 – photograph by Gordon Brent Ingram
Don Hann behind the bar Numbers on Davie in the West End of Vancouver, August, 1998 photography by Gordon Brent Ingram