Then the number began to dip. One thousand eight hundred forty eight. One thousand eight hundred forty seven. One thousand eight hundred forty six…
I knew instantly why it was dropping. I had anticipated it even. As a photographer, I often post photos to the page, and Sunday morning I posted one of my favorite photos of all time: A dear friend, his eyes closed as he cried quiet tears while another dear friend leaned over to plant a gentle kiss on his cheek.
Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?
Even better for me, the photographer behind the photo? I’d been lucky enough to capture the moment just a day before.
The man crying was watching a slideshow of moments of his relationship playing for guests at his wedding. The man planting a kiss on his cheek would become his husband just about five minutes later. The latter is a man I’ve been friends with for 17 years now, ever since he was roped with me as his intern and decided to ignore my flaws in favor of what he saw as my strengths.
He’s the man who made me the journalist I am today. He’s the man I’ve turned to for guidance, for help, for friendship for nearly two decades. He’s the man who brought his now husband to welcome my daughter at the hospital, who has been there for every one of her birthdays, every one of my important life moments in the past 17 years. In fact, he once drove 1,000 miles in one weekend just to be at my wedding.
This weekend, after 13 years of his loving another man and waiting for the government to recognize that their love is every bit as legitimate as that of a man and a woman, I was able to return the favor with a camera in my hand, my husband at my side and my daughter dressed in a white eyelet dressing walking up the aisle with a basket of flower petals in her hands. Her uncles were getting married, and she was in heaven as one of their flower girls. It was a moment she’s waited for since the moment she first grasped the concepts of love and marriage.
As for that photo, it may not have been the most technically perfect of any photo I’ve taken since I first picked up a camera at age 6, but it’s already one of a handful of favorites for what it stands for. Sharing it was something I did with pride.
And I don’t regret it. Not even after the loss of a number of “fans.”
As a writer and photographer both, I hope people will look upon what I do with favor. After all, why would I put something out there online if not for someone else to view it? It’s human nature to curry favor from others on someone’s work. And in the digital age, the goal is to reach as many eyeballs as possible.
I looked at the dropping number with a heavy heart.
And then I switched sides. I decided to focus instead the growing number of “likes” on the photo itself. Sixty-three likes (at last count). More than 800 “reached.” People who recognized the photo for what it was: love in its purest form. Human connection. A sign of what it is that makes this country great: love is protected … as love.
You can “unlike” me for not sharing a viewpoint that you don’t share. That’s something we can do in this country. That’s protected.
But sharing something beautiful, something magical, something hopeful … that’s protected in this country too. And trust me, it makes the world a whole lot better.
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