Usually, this is the yearly blog post where I saccharinely reflect back on the year, and thank my couples and families for the work we did together. I couldn’t have done it without them. Thanks to all of you for making 2016 a year of wild dance floors, hot kisses and silly unscripted moments:
Now let’s talk about 2016 — a year marked by huge triumphs and losses, death, schisms, and setbacks, personally and globally.
In September, my divorce was final, and I said hello to a healthier life. In October, I watched my aunts, two of the most important women in my life, get married after nearly 14 years together. We reveled in joy and justice. A few weeks later, I watched, unsurprised, as a masterfully manipulative yet incompetent tyrant was elected President of the United States — the most powerful office in the world.
Donald Trump may be the most imminent threat to democracy, decency and justice we Americans have ever faced, and his election confirms that we have lightyears to go before this country lives up to the ideals it professes.
That said, in 2017 I will:
Call out and stand against bigotry, especially in this industry.
Continue to affirm same sex couples, and serve couples of all faiths, combinations, constructions and persuasions and backgrounds. Images help normalize humanity, and offer a platform for voices to be heard against the noise — the long-festering and emboldened bigotry, racism and homophobia we will face. I will offer to blog and interview these couples as often as I can, as often as they agree to participate.
Teach photography, video and journalism skills to marginalized communities so they can tell their own stories. Help create platforms for those stories. Then, step aside.
Because of my journalism, my photography and my nature, I have toes in many diverse communities. I will continue to ally with queer, minority and people-of-color-led organizations. I will hear and connect and translate ideas and conversations between these communities and the communities they are at odds with.
These are my vows to you.
Justin Cook, out.