A married couple, friends of ours, moved to California a few years back. Their kids had been in my youth theatre and the parents were among my first backers. We go a long way back. It’s been difficult to keep up with them so far away, but we catch up when we can through phone calls and instant messaging.
My wife was concerned that the wife of the couple wasn’t answering her calls; that she was hanging up on them when it rang. I messaged the husband to check in and gently inquired to see if there was a problem. In the middle of catching up on the kids, etc., I get this:
“Full disclosure. The reason we don’t communicate much is that old guys photographing young half naked women creeps me out.”
To which I answered:
“Well, I’m sorry to hear that. There is a community of photographers here that do that as a hobby. This latest one I shot is very pleased with her photos. To each is own.” And the conversation continued on as if nothing had been said.
Frankly, my initial reaction was to tell him to fuck off not only with his ageism (and he’s a year older than I) but with his passive-aggressiveness — but I wasn’t ready to throw away a 30-something friendship. It’s not the first time he’s acted in such a manner, but he doesn’t often do so, so it was a bit of surprised. His younger daughter has actually liked many of my photos.
In the Lutheran church, there are, I believe, three different synods. The one the wife belongs to, and to which he switched from another synod, is vile. I sang with them as a paid performer and I had to divert my attention to my phone during the sermon to keep from being outraged. They also reneged on an agreement for my services in exchange for the use of their fellowship hall for my shows (they had a stage) and I made them pay up. They are homophobic and a bit misogynistic, not letting women in positions of authority. My friends, are quite liberal, otherwise, and have even argued against some of those stances with members of the staff and congregation; but they remain because “it’s her heritage.”
I make no apologies for my photographs. I like the human body and it’s been a source for artists, sculptors, and photographers for millennia. The young woman I last photograph just today posted one of the shots on Instagram, praising it.
What really galls me, though, is my wife being shunned.
This will be addressed.