‘A Family Like Ours’: Pictures of Gay Fatherhood

When Bart Heenen appeared at the Brooklyn home of a family he was expected to photograph in 2015, his subjects weren’t quite ready. One father was doing some ironing and the other was cleaning the house, the newborn son in his arms.

This scene struck Mr. Heenan, himself the father of two sons, in general. “They looked like any other parent who loves their kids,” he said.

Mr Heenan had planned to photograph gay fathers and their children for a book of photography. His basic idea was that each family would pose at the corner of their block to show, “See? We are present in the entire city,” he said. But after shooting Brooklyn, he changed the concept to focus on fathers in the midst of day-to-day realities. He spent the next four years with 40 families across the country, compiling their quiet moments in his recently released book, “Father.”

American culture has not been particularly hungry for images of gay parenthood in recent years. like celebrities Anderson Cooper has helped normalize the idea of ​​gay men raising children, and seeing them on television no longer seems a revelation, as it did at the 2009 premiere of “Modern Family.”

Less common, Mr Heenan said, are images of gay fathers who aren’t Instagram-ready – like two men combing their daughters’ hair or tossing a football in the front yard. Capturing these honest, private moments isn’t always easy. His subjects often wanted their families to appear as traditional as possible, he said, in their best clothes and smiling at the camera. It’s an understandable impulse, which he attributes to a desire to feel “normal” among gay parents. abilities as a parent Constantly under question.

Eventually the families rested, allowing him to capture their intimate moments. In one, two bare-chested fathers engaged in skin-to-skin contact with their hour-old baby. In another, a gray-haired couple glances at, as their son shares, a kiss with his fiancée. The pictures are not captivating, Mr Heinen said, but rather a celebration of the day-to-day lives of gay fathers.

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