The Love of Gay Families

“All Our Families” portfolio, as published in a 34-page spread in Diario magazine in Italy. ©2000-12 Isaac Hernandez. (More photos below)

I wanted to be a photographer to make a difference. Thanks to perseverance and luck, I believe I finally did, if only with one photo essay. It was the year 2000. I got a call from USC Religious Studies professor, and writer, Juan Herrero Brasas. He was referred to me by Carlos Fresneda, bureau chief for El Mundo in Spain. Juan needed a photographer to travel with him to San Francisco to document a gathering organized by All Our Families for children of gay families to socialize and have a good time. I rented a Hasselblad, loaded it with black-and-white film, and was ready to go (not quite because I had loaded the film backwards, but a kind Samaritan-photographer showed me the correct way of loading the film, and the rest is history).

Juan spent a few minutes doing interviews before I snapped two or three pictures of the happy families. The result was published in Magazine El Mundo, with a beautiful article by Herrero Brasas with the title “Papa y Papi Me Miman” (Daddy and Poppy Love Me). I was really moved by the love present in these families, and I’m eternally grateful by the generosity of the people who allowed me to photograph them.

The article generated an uproar in all media in Spain, sparking a national debate. From what I heard, the photos were shown on TV, and plastered the walls of bookstores in Lavapies, Madrid’s equivalent of San Francisco’s Castro District. My friend’s hairdresser had it on his wall and was moved to tears by its significance. It started a conversation that a few years later resulted in the legalization of gay marriages and adoptions.

A few years later I would meet Maurizio Garofalo, editor of Diario magazine in Italy, almost by chance at VISA Pour L’Image photography festival in Perpignan, France. A war documentary had left me with a feeling of despair; it seemed as if everybody hated everybody. As I walked out of the theater, I needed to talk to anybody to remind myself that there’s love in the world. I talked to the first person I saw, and that was Maurizio. He asked to see my portfolio of gay families and fell in love with it to the point that he published every single image in a special issue, under the title “Radicci dell’Odio”, or “The Roots of Hate” (seen here). It illustrated the most comprehensive gathering of stories on gay rights ever published in an Italian journal, with stories by renowned Italian thinkers and writers. I’m happy and proud to share the love present in these images. Like my son said wisely when he was just a toddler, “Let’s love all the hate away!”