Friday, October 16, 2015

A Friend to the Community

 Mariette Pathy Allen is someone I have known for over 20 years.   We have always shared a big hug and this is just what we did at SCC a few weeks ago.  The only time I have ever seen Mariette without her trusty camera in hand, is when she has been receiving awards for the unbiased and continuing support of the transgender community.  The awards have been many and well deserved.    I watched as she got up from lunch at SCC last week to take photos of our featured guest Jazz.  Always working her art.  Mariette was also a seminar presenter this year and if you ever get the opportunity, do see her presentation of photos of our community, through history.   A lifetime of work and you truly know you are in the presences of a famous photographer and storyteller.

I first met Mariette at an Atlanta, Holiday Inn SCC in or about 1994.  There we discussed cameras, techniques, how much the book Transformations meant to me - yesterday's post.  I am not sure if it was at that year’s SCC, but at some other point, she did photography me.  A photo I will always cherish.  
Mariette became a friend to the transgender community almost by accident.  In her book, Transformation she describes it this way:

In New Orleans, 1978, on the last day of Mardi Gras, I went to my hotel dining room for breakfast and was confronted by a roomful of figures in long sequined dresses, butterfly eyelashes, and cascading hairpieces.  After breakfast, as if on que, the group lined up around a hotel swimming pool, striking poses.  I looked through my camera lens.  Each of them was forced in a different direction, except for one person wearing a green lame dress who looked back at me, calmly and directly.  It was as if I was seeing into someone’s soul unencumbered by masculinity or femininity as if in covering her male anatomy with a beautiful dress, her full humanity was present….  I entered the world of Vicky West.
Through Vicky, I became aware of the full spectrum of the transgendered world…. I witnessed the sensual, artistic, exhibitionistic elements of dressing: The pleasure Vicky experienced in creating her look, in expressing herself, in being admired and in leaving behind, however temporarily, the responsibilities and burdens of Kurt’s world.

 I do not think anyone has captured the essence of our community any better than Mariette Pathy Allen.  Thank you for being there for us and capturing our souls in such an artistic, beautiful and loving manner. 

 "Line-up, Mardi Gras, New Orleans 1978
The moment I started on my exploration." -
Mariette Pathy Allen

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