ANNA 2011: I remember searching Eli’s Brooklyn neighborhood dollar stores for just the right shade of red lipstick and large white plastic earrings, playing dress up and trying to be a proper foil for his burgeoning male identity. When Eli was in grad school I would travel to Brooklyn from Philadelphia every other weekend, always afraid that he might have changed into someone I didn’t recognize or who no longer loved me. I kept one of your photos of him in my day planner, a pin-up of sorts in which he wore a work shirt & tool belt, it’s exaggerated posturing showing him both as a young man and the person I first fell in love with. Your photos simultaneously captured the real and the imagined, necessary partners as we fashioned our lives together. Nine years later we still hang the same Christmas ornaments, glitter disco Santas and Grandmom’s red & white hounds tooth balls.
ELI 2011: When this photo was taken I had been on testosterone for about six months and was just weeks away from top surgery. Things were happening so quickly and not fast enough. I was hovering between the butch I had been and the man that I would become. My strong dyke bravado was replaced by a constant knot in the pit of my stomach as I corrected names and pronouns on a daily basis. All the while I was trying to maintain a relationship with the woman I loved while dragging her along on this wild and uncomfortable ride. Looking back I am (thankfully) not the same person I was in this photo, but this image holds a glimmer of the man I’d become and the relationship Anna and I would build together. I think Anna’s hand on my shoulder tells the story–hold on tight and we’ll make it through to the other side.