Photography by Brian Powers
Marriage equality is sweeping across the nation, and one of the most touching effects is that attention is being drawn to same-sex love in many different places people might not expect. It's not just big cities and metropolitan areas or guys in bowties. From the prim-and-proper, to bearded hipsters, tattooed bikers, and military types, images pop up daily to remind us how beautiful love is in all its diversity.
For Brandon and Benjamin, having photographer Brian Powers shoot them on a ranch outside Missoula, Montana, was about capturing their relationship in its most natural environment. Brandon grew up around the ranch and, as a couple, they’re united by their love of the open-air Montana lifestyle.
The two met a little over a year ago, and now live together in Washington State, but they go back to visit Brandon’s family in Montana as often as they can. Despite the region’s general conservatism — Brandon says his father is “somewhat of a self-proclaimed redneck” — they’ve experienced incredible support.
“[My dad] was the person I was most nervous to tell [that I was gay], but [he] wound up being the easiest,” Brandon says. “His response was, ‘I don’t give a shit. You’re the same person. Just try and find someone who likes to hunt.’ And Ben loves to hunt, so no problems there.”
Brandon says that these photos were originally intended for purely personal use, but he's happy to share them with a wider audience. “Ben is in the Navy, and he will be gone for months on end, so they’re a nice thing to have during those times.” But he's also been overwhelmingly pleased by people’s reaction to them.
“Often, when you see two men together the stereotype is very different from a Montana ranch, and much different from how we live and how we feel, which I think is one reason we’ve had a lot of support and positive feedback off of this set of photos. It wasn’t about us being a same-sex couple, it was about being recognized as two people who care about each other… and who had a very talented photographer to capture that.”