After taking two separate spins on the StreetPX microphones, we want to take a moment to promote his upcoming photobook project, FAITH.
FAITH is an engaging visual story about the often underrepresented gay African American community, their lives, their faith and their response to discrimination, both racial and religious.
Learn more about the book from Chris Suspect, as we unpack and discuss the experiences and stories behind the photos.
From FotoEvidence.com (publisher)
Pre Order signed copy of FAITH for delivery in the spring of 2019.
FAITH is 132 pages, 8″x10″ (200x250mm), and contains 68 photographs printed in tritone. FAITH tells a powerful visual story about a community’s response to discrimination, both racial and religious.
Chris Suspect came upon this unusual community by chance. He met Bilal Ali after a taxi hit Ali on the streets of Georgetown in Washington, DC. Suspect photographed the accident and sent Bilal the photos for his lawyer to use. A few months later, Bilal invited Suspect to photograph a private party at a non-descript restaurant in Dupont Circle. At the time, Suspect had no idea he would be introduced that night to an empowered community of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender African Americans.
American society is highly segregated and it should come as no surprise that the American LGBT movement is mostly represented by white gays and lesbians. Black gays lack their own prominent voice or representation on a national level. Despite the support of prominent national, African American leaders, like Obama and Oprah, show for gay culture in general, many black gays feel they do not provide a voice for their community. In communities, black families may accept their children’s sexuality but not openly, compared to many white families who proudly accept their children’s sexual orientation.
In Washington, DC’s gay clubs African Americans often face prejudice. Discrimination can take the form of bogus dress codes or even charging significantly higher drink prices to African Americans, to discourage them from returning. In addition, many profiles on gay dating apps say “no blacks.”
To live freely, these men and women in FAITH create their own venues to express their erotic lives. They gather at private parties organized in homes, restaurants or underground venues friendly to their lifestyle.
The black Baptist Church is also notoriously intolerant of homosexuality, so the people you meet in FAITH are also ostracized in the churches of their upbringing. To counter this, they established their own church, The Community Church, in Washington, D.C. Here, under the leadership of the Rev. Aaron Wade, they are fully accepted and worship freely.
FAITH takes the viewer into both realms, the erotic and the religious, juxtaposing their erotic freedom with the traditional solemnity of their church. Despite the striking visual contrast between these two realms, they both embody the self-empowerment and determination of a unique community.