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A Labor of LGBTQ Love
Michael Liani captures the intimate worlds of queer Israeli couples
People always tell Michael Liani he has particular eyes. “They’re like Mickey Mouse eyes,” he tells me. “The camera has become a third eye that connects everything. I have a love-hate relationship with cameras. But it is the love that pushes me to comment on making change.”
Through his lens, the Israeli photographer has set out to capture queer couples, challenging normative views of love and family. LGBTQ+ Love was born as a passion project when Liani realized no one else was creating a large archive of portraits encompassing the many facets of the LGBT community. “Whoever wants to be in the frame of love is welcome,” says Liani. “There is no judgment.”
Liani's LGBTQ+ Love photos, recently featured in Vogue Italia and Cosmopolitan Italia, will be compiled into a book, featuring a bright red cover symbolizing the first color of the Pride flag. He envisions this book as the start of a series, expanding to include all the colors of the rainbow in subsequent editions.
Having grown up in a traditional Moroccan home in the North of Israel, Liani later moved to Tel Aviv at the age of eighteen to explore his own gay identity. He acknowledges that the kind of representation he is creating is often lacking, both in Israel and abroad, as closed communities may struggle to embrace the fluidity of gender and sexuality. The contrasting experiences of his upbringing and his newfound community, along with his genuine love for both, fuel his desire to shed light on the often overlooked or misunderstood aspects of queer love and relationships.
The portraits exude an intimate, warm, and often wholesome tone. Liani is not only showcasing diverse queer partnerships but also highlighting their pursuit of creating homes, marriages, and families outside the expectations of a heteronormative society.
Nevertheless, Liani's work serves not only to expand the perspectives and build empathy among non-queer individuals but also as a mirror for LGBTQ+ individuals themselves. “As queer people, gay people, we have often been made to feel unworthy or even damaged. And it’s been that way feel for a long time,” says Liani. “So I am fighting for the visuals of our truth through photography. This is what motivates me, my dedication to people who need to know they will be loved.”