A multimedia advocacy campaign profiling the impacts of California’s 2008 same-sex marriage ban on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples
A program of the UCLA Art & Global Health Center

13LoveStories is a unique multimedia advocacy project that profiles thirteen lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples whose lives were profoundly affected by Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot initiative that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry. The project presents a series of short films that feature the real voices, personal photographs taken by participants and a professional portrait of each committed LGBT couple. These films provide direct access to a diverse cross-section of committed couples in and around Los Angeles. The project hopes to shift consciousness and increase awareness by showcasing the beauty of true love in a variety of forms.

In the media campaign leading up to the hotly contested November ’08 vote, the UCLA Art & Global Health Center felt something essential was missing: images of the queer couples whose relationships hung in the balance. On November 5th, the day after Proposition 8 passed, Professor David Gere, Director of the UCLA Art & Global Health Center, and renowned South African photojournalist Gideon Mendel conceived the project as an effort to redress the absence of such images. Teamed with a class of UCLA students and a production crew, Mendel went into each couple’s home, took a portrait and a still life, and selected pre-existing images from their albums. Video editor Derrick Shore and the team then used that material and recorded interviews to make 13 narrated video slideshows and a mobile exhibition.

On Valentine’s Day 2009, a collection of 13 videos launched on YouTube, to date reaching more than 112,000 viewers. The mobile outdoor exhibition version launched at Bruin Plaza at UCLA, March 5, 2009, the day that oral arguments in the Prop 8 case were presented to the California Supreme Court. A packed plaza enjoyed music, delicious cake, and had a chance to hear from the couples themselves. Since then, the exhibition has toured around California to engage with diverse communities. The project has further developed on the web in the form of 13LoveStories.org in an effort to open dialogue with even larger audiences.

As the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates over recent hearings pertaining to marriage equality, the UCLA Art & Global Health Center looks forward to using the existing mobile exhibition, videos, and website to continue to advocate for gay marriage. We hope people will be moved by the stories of 13 loving families, and understand that they too have more than every right to be recognized as families, in every respect.

13LoveStories was produced by the UCLA Art & Global Health Center in coalition with several UCLA partners including:

  • UCLA LGBT Campus Resource Center,
  • UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education,
  • UCLA Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance,
  • UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture,
  • UCLA Student Coalition for Marriage Equality.
  • 13LoveStories was directed by Gideon Mendel, co-curated by UCLA professors David Gere and Janna Shadduck-Hernandez, and produced by Bobby Gordon.