HOUSTON -- If all the world's a stage, then love makes a family. But what is a family anyway? A standard answer is "nuclear." And theater folk routinely consider their cohorts family. But a photography exhibit entitled "Love Makes a Family: Living in Lesbian and Gay Families" takes things even further, addressing issues that often are quietly stifled or actively suppressed. Having toured leading universities throughout the country, as well as local libraries, since 1995, the exhibit will hang in the lobby of Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston from March 2 - 29. The sponsor is the Houston chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Part of Family Diversity Projects, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to promoting diversity and dispelling discrimination nationwide, "Love Makes a Family: Living in Lesbian and Gay Families" is a collection of photographs by Gigi Kaeser depicting a variety of families with gay or lesbian parents, grandparents, or other relatives. Each photograph is accompanied by commentary edited from interviews with family members. For instance, pithy Liza, age 7, the daughter of Stacey Styles and Amy Mackenzie, observes, "A family is a bunch of people, or not so many, who love each other," and leaves it at that.
To be mounted in a prominent position at Stages, the exhibit will be in plain sight during the run of a main stage production (Edward Albee's All Over) and an Early Stages show for children. Stages artistic director Rob Bundy is well aware that some viewers might be troubled by it. In his view, social change is sometimes accelerated through controversy. Bottom line, he hopes children of gay and lesbian families, not to mention the parents and relatives, will find encouragement from the exhibit.
"I am a strong believer in family values," he explained. "However, the definition of family values is broader than what many of our more conservative fellow Americans believe. It's our duty as a theater, therefore a community forum, to help broaden our concepts of what a healthy American family can be."
The exhibit has a web site: www.javanet.com/~famphoto For more information, call Stages Repertory Theatre, (713) 527-0220.
--By Peter Szatmary