Pride NYC - how perspectives have changed
Veteran documentary photographer Vincent Cianni has photographed the gay community since the 1980s. The FT joins him on the weekend march in New York to talk photography, protest and commercialisation
Produced and Directed by Gregory Bobillot and Juliet Riddell. Filmed and edited by Gregory Bobillot.
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SUBJECT 1: And we, together, we're a powerhouse. I really, really love you.
VINCENT CIANNI: I think there's a sense of truth in my photographs. I think the way that people will read them, in terms of emotions, is a very personal thing. And it's really up to an individual and what their perspective, what their relationship is to the contents of the photographs.
ALL: (SINGING) America, America--
VINCENT CIANNI: This march is actually a protest against the commercialization and the corporate takeover of the Gay Pride March.
SUBJECT 2: And so we are incredibly honoured to celebrate what is so incredibly meaning to all of us at United Airlines.
VINCENT CIANNI: And when you think about the institutionalisation of a protest march, it becomes part of the system, and kind of taps into the homogenization of the culture, or the movement, and kind of dilutes the purpose, the original purpose, of what the march was.
SUBJECT 3: What's going on, bud?
VINCENT CIANNI: Nothing much. How you doing?
SUBJECT 3: Good. Shoot film. All right.
VINCENT CIANNI: I shoot film.
SUBJECT 3: Cheers, man.
VINCENT CIANNI: The parade actually became part of a larger documentation of my experience in my life. I started photographing gay life in many different ways, through my relationships, through my activism, through the work that I did around HIV/AIDS. And it was this kind of natural, organic outflow of what I was doing, what my experiences were at the time.
When I look back at, at those photographs in the 1980s and 1990s, I have a range of emotions, because they are intricately and personally tied to me and people I knew, but also actions and movements and organisations that I worked with and then also within a larger context. So there's sadness when I look at people that I photographed-- lovers, very close friends who have died.
I have a commitment. I think 20, 30 years ago, my excitement level was probably over the top. I think now I look at it as reflection and support, a kind of passing the baton on to the young people, who really kind of can take over and fight for what's right.
On one level I feel that all of this shouldn't be necessary, that we don't-- we shouldn't have to fight for our identity and who we are. But in light of that, there's many people, many groups of people that have to do this, and this is the best way to celebrate that.
I think all photographs become more complex and more deep in their meaning as time goes on. So they're important today as a tool to document events that are taking place in our current political climate, or our society, our culture, and how culture kind of shifts and changes. But the true impact of them, and understanding of them doesn't come until you reflect on them. And that kind of takes time.
They're actually starting to come, and I do want to photograph them. OK.