"My mom is gay. But it took me a long time to say those words out loud," says Gabriela Herman, creator of the new photography book, The Kids: The Children of LGBTQ Parents in the USA.
"She came out [...] when I was in high school. My parents soon separated and, eventually, she married her longtime partner [...] It was a raw and difficult time. I hardly spoke to her for a year while I studied abroad."
Herman's personal experience and knowledge on the kind of emotional rollercoaster kids with gay parents go through were the main drivers behind her photojournalism series that features children and young adults in America with one or more parent who identifies as lesbian, gay, transgender, or queer.
To put together her book, Herman partnered with COLAGE, the only national organization focusing on children with LGBTQ parents. The publication features a total of 75 stunning portraits along with deeply personal and sensitive stories by the subjects. According to Annie Van Avery, executive director of COLAGE:
"Gabriela's book is more than a book of portraits. It is a narrative of a culture, our culture, created by a photographer who clearly knows our souls."
Indeed, being a child of a gay parent and a child of divorce, Gabriela shares a very similar experience with her subjects. In the book, she describes her own feelings of shame and attempts to hide her family situation from schoolmates and friends: "The topic was taboo even within our otherwise tight-knit family."
As an acclaimed photographer, Herman has traversed the world only to realize she's never encountered anyone else raised by a gay parent. Thus, her project began as a way to meet and document people with a similar story to hers.
"The Williams Institute estimates there are at least 6 million children with gay parents in the United States. And, in my interviews, I discovered every situation was unique.
These conversations recalled having to juggle silence and isolation and needing to defend our families on the playground, at church, and during holiday gatherings. [...]
We – the children of LGBTQ parents – are not hypotheticals. Our stories need to be told."
Herman hopes that her book will play a role in changing things for the next generation of LGBTQ parents and kids. "This inequality will fade into the history books and my children will wonder what all the fuss was about," she says. The book can be purchased here for $21.