Nine years in the making, Let Love Reign (currently funding on Kickstarter) is a photography book by Catalina Kulczar with accompanying essays by Megan Shepherd. The 208-page, Bone NYC-designed hardcover features black and white portraits of 50 LGBTQ+ couples from across the United States. Accompanying each is the story of those photographed—from coming out to falling in love and beyond.
In 2009, Kulczar was living in North Carolina—growing more and more distressed and indignant about the state’s bigoted marriage laws. “Imagine that your loved one is in a hospital and you can’t be there by their side? It’s infuriating, right? That was the case back in all parts of this country at some point if your loved one was someone of the same gender. How messed up is that?” she asks. “And how messed up is it that in 2009, when I started this project, that two people who love each other, who are in a committed relationship, couldn’t marry and be seen equally in front of the law—like me and my husband?”
This frustration turned to art. Over nine years Kulczar met with these couples from all over the country—photographing them and hearing their unique stories.
The first couple she photographed in 2009, Tim and Ron, appeared on a billboard along a busy stretch of highway in Charlotte, North Carolina. But, the billboard couldn’t last forever. After 30 days, it came down and work began to forge an everlasting testament to love (and to continue to fight for societal acceptance of marriage equality): Let Love Reign.
“This book is a time capsule. It’s a moment in time where marriage equality was peppered throughout the United States,” Kulczar says. “Some people could get married where they lived, some traveled to states where they could legally marry, others stayed and had symbolic ceremonies. It’s a very particular time in the history of marriage equality. I feel that my daughter and future generations will be surprised at the legal battles and the challenges that people faced.”
All of the photographs were taken between 2009 and 2016—the 50th portrait was taken just months after same-sex marriage was deemed a right under federal law on 26 June, 2015.
With a little help, the book will be published next month. Let Love Reign is funding on Kickstarter until 2 November, and for as little as $10 you can help it come to life.
Images courtesy of Catalina Kulczar