Jan Dee Gordon's “LGBTQ of Steel” Displays Resiliency of LGBTQ Heroes
Jan Dee Gordon’s study of photography began in Paris, France. She continued her photography education in New York at the International Center for Photography and then in Los Angeles at UCLA. Her distinctive pictures have appeared in magazines, such as Vogue and Bazaar, as well as several museums and galleries, such as Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, LA Photo and Wall Street Gallery. The photos have been selected by designers to decorate buildings, lobbies, hallways, apartments, and have been sold in stores throughout the United States. In Gordon’s new book, “LGBTQ of Steel,” is a compilation of striking portraits and personal profiles that captures the energy, optimism, and resiliency of fifty LGBTQ heroes.
“LGBTQ of Steel” is the second book in the “Of Steel” series that Jan Dee Gordon has released. The recurring theme in both “Women of Steel” and “LGBTQ of Steel,” is how people use their inner strength to overcome life obstacles, analogized to the toughness of steel, and successfully bend the steel into their chosen paths. The subjects of the books are an inspiration of how to face issues and emerge the victor.
“I picked steel because it’s graphically great-looking, it’s hard, and it also bends,” Gordon explains of her first book, ‘Women of Steel.’ “I realized that it was an analogy for life and reality. As a woman, I looked back at how I covered up myself. A lot of women from my generation would say you are there to please other people. You don’t say so much as this is what I want to do, or this is what I think. I noticed this and I started to use nudes of women and steel in my photographs. I looked for women who used their inner strength to overcome obstacles in their life and who had ended up able to choose their own path.”
In her second book “LGBTQ of Steel,” Gordon celebrates a group of LGBTQ individuals who bravely and without hesitation overcame unimaginable obstacles that threatened to hold them back, block their path, and completely destroy their lives. These powerful individuals have bared their souls, all of them formidable; bending and molding a seemingly unmovable ribbon of steel to exemplify their individual struggles and hardships and ultimate triumphs.
“LGBTQ of Steel” is dedicated to Jan’s brother, Ben Lewis, who lived at a time when medicine wasn’t as advanced as it is today. At age 48 in 1994, he died of complications of AIDS. As president of a bank and as a married man with a daughter, he led a double life until he became ill. He did not have a chance to live a fully open life and to be authentically true to himself.
In his memory, Jan Dee Gordon share these inspirational stories of people in his community who were able to finally and joyfully live openly. The book also includes Gordon’s brother’s daughter, Soozin Lewis, and her partner, Brigit Biagiotti, in the book as well. A portion of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to AIDS research.
The stories of the people featured in the book are told in their own words and describe transforming a seemingly unyielding reality that is represented by the ribbons of steel in the photos into lives of service, art, friendship, and humor. According to Gordon, It is the combination of her experience with her brother and the idea of overcoming obstacles and coming out on the other side using your own strength that led to this book.
"Just as these courageous LGBTQ people bend and shape steel in these photos, they tell in their own words of bending the realities of their lives to become the individuals they were meant to be,” said Gordon.
The book features 50 subjects including celebrities such as Alec Mapa, Margaret Cho, Frank De Caro, John Duran and 93-year-old Bob Clement who was at Stonewall- at the first Pride Parade, and who opened his church to all the LGBT people there as a first.
“A lot of these people didn’t have a role model. There was nothing that they could identify within the media or the world. Hopefully, this book will give younger people a way to see themselves and have role models. I also hope that the parents of young LGBTQ community members and other people will be able to see the book, understand, have more empathy, and get rid of any prejudice.”
LGBTQ of Steel will be available for purchase this summer. For more information about Jan Dee Gordon and her new book, visit humanityofsteel.com.