These two photos were taken on the same day on June 25th, 2021. I am friends with Momma Francine and she asked me to take photos of her during the formation of the New York City TS/TranSexual Pride Parade which originates in Tompkins Square and proceeds to the Stonewall Inn, the historic location of the uprising by the LGBTQ community back in 1970. Momma Francine brought her friend, Summer Tacetta, dressed as the Reaper, to do some photos with.
I walked from Penn Station to Tompkins Square taking street photos as I walked, as my street shoots have been inhibited by Covid-19 over the past eighteen months and this was a natural opportunity. VeraMeat appears to be a butcher shop but is actually a jewelry store with unconventional signage. I was attracted to the offbeat sign with graffiti on it against the staid sidewalk and trees. I like surreal photos and this one seemed to approach that aesthetic.
The shot of Momma Francine and Summer Tacetta on the park bench was fortunate as the crowd was still small and I had the opportunity to back up and take a panoramic shot of the two within the larger context of the scene. To the left were two parade participants holding up a flag and variously chatting with the passing crowd. The fellow to the right actually had nothing to do with the parade and kept ‘shushing’ everyone, asking them to be quiet. Things like this happen in New York all the time.
The shot looks posed, but it was largely spontaneous. Momma Francine is an elder in the LGBTQ community and does a lot of iconographic modeling work in NYC and intuitively knows how to move and pose from shot to shot. She’s a great subject. I love the photo because it’s so free and uninhibited, and the color palette is amazing. I am providing the narrative here but without this, the photo is a narrative puzzle, which I also seek in my work.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what a feeling of joy and acceptance was shared by the crowd and supporters. I was able to march with the group and there were people cheering from the sidewalk, from 2nd, 3rd and 4th story apartments all down the route. It felt like an assembly of the [whole community], something which happens rarely, especially during this season of Covid, but when it happens, it’s a cause for celebration.
Momma Francine, Summer Tacetta, TS Pride March, Tompkins Square
George L. Stein is a writer and photographer in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area with interest in monochrome, film and digital photography, urban and rural decay, architectural, street, and more generally, art photography and digital manipulation. His work has been published in Midwest Gothic, NUNUM, Montana Mouthful, Out/Cast, The Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, and DarkSide magazine.
© Variant Literature Inc 2021