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Family Values

Katie Swanger | United States

'Mom's Finally Retired'
My mom has dedicated most of her years to working in human services. She has been waiting to retire until I completed college. Now the day has finally come. I see a weight lifted off her. She now dedicates her free time to social justice work. She attends many Black Lives Matter rallies, and most recently was arrested at a Poor People's Campaign march in Hartford, CT.

Family Values explores my experience growing up with two moms and a mixed race family. My photographs advocate for my family's rights and investigate our relationship with the current political climate. Themes of care giving, aging, and transitioning of familial roles are present. There is a tension between the normalcy of everyday family life and the necessity to continue fighting against social injustices. This value placed on human rights is something my moms have been practicing for years and passed on to me the day I was born.

I am one of the first children to be conceived by in-vitro fertilization for a same-sex couple in the state of Connecticut. My mothers have lived through a lack a of legal rights and recognition of our family as a unit. Their passion for social justice has been engrained into my core values and has led me to tell our story.

My brother Derek was adopted into the family when his mom passed away of cancer, and Angie and Marty assumed the roles of his ‘earth moms’. David became connected to our family when Marty started visiting him at a half-way house in New Haven, Connecticut.

The current social climate is concerning. My family fears for their rights as individual human beings, as lovers and as black men living in a broken system.

In correlation to the unsettling political and social climate, my family is experiencing a period of transition as well. I have begun to take care of my moms as they have taken care of me growing up. In some senses I mourn my previous role in my family and have grown into my new role.

I feel an urgency to show my family’s experiences because I have grown up with rights slowly being given to my family over time and do not want to see them taken away. I was given my non-biological mother’s surname in hopes that this would give me some legal attachment to her when I was younger and the laws would not recognize her as my guardian. My mothers were finally able to get married when I was in high school. And just within recent years when applying to colleges, both my mother’s income was not recognized. It is time for my family to be heard and accepted.

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