February 08, 2017IMLAY CITY — Ask anyone what love is and chances are good they'll respond with the bible verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. For those who need a refresher, oft-quoted paragraph goes something like this:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others..."
That last sentence seems to resonate with photographer Steve Teets and his spouse Jeffrey Hart, owners of Somewhere in Time in the historic Hotel McKinley downtown.
Though they're inching their way out of the "newlywed" category, having tied the knot in August of 2014, Teets and Hart believe in the simple truth about love... "Love is Love" above all else. Regardless of circumstances, gender, color, religion, social status... "Love is Love." Teets and Hart have created a photo campaign bearing that quote to tie in with Valentine's Day.
Their road hasn't been as direct or simple as the "Love is Love" quote, but the journey has demonstrated for the couple that acceptance of the truth that "Love is Love" is key.
"Growing up feeling different than everyone else, feeling left out because of who I was, I had to find ways to make me feel like I fit in, sometimes not being the person I knew I was," Hart says. "I have been fighting all through my adult years
and will continue to fight so that no other child
has to go through what
February's window display at Somewhere in Time photography studio at the historic Hotel McKinley in downtown Imlay City highlighting the diversity of love.
we had to."
Hart says the "Love is Love" promotion is aimed at fostering acceptance that love has many faces.
"We have made so many great advancements in equal rights recently, and yet there is still so much hate in the world towards people who some feel are 'different,'" Hart says. "Love is the answer, Love has no boundaries, knows no age, sexual orientation, race, or religion. It's pretty simple...love is love."
To illustrate the point, the couple reached out to members of the community for the month-long campaign to illustrate love in all of its diversity.
A glance at the window display at Somewhere in Time shows couples like longtime Imlay City Police Officer Joe DeLuca, his wife Margaret and their children Diego and Daniella; downtown attorney Barb Yockey—in her MSU gear with husband Frank Demske, who's donned in U of M apparel. Pastor Renee Jackson of Imlay City's United Congregational Church and her husband, Dennis in African garb; Nichole Teets and her bi-racial kids Khyla Teets and Jaydin Hall, Josh Fortuna and his boyfriend Michael Hendrickson, and Richelle Martin, formerly known around town as 'Big Rich' Martin.
The participants jumped at the chance to show that 'Love is Love,' Teets says, and they were gratified by the support.
"Everyone that I asked was eager to do it," Teets says. "Even in our little hick town, a lot of good things are happening. Feathers may be ruffled, but people don't care."
Teets says they were moved to create the promotion because of the general climate in the country over the past year or so of the presidential election. And, he says, it's gotten worse since then.
"I the last couple of months, I've heard of so many incidents that happened to family and friends, instances of discrimination, hatred and bigotry toward people of all races, sexual orientation and ages," Teets says. "Since the election some people think it's okay to just talk out loud and say whatever they think without remorse. We are saddened by this because we have friends that have been followed, harassed, spit on and called names."
Teets says he and Hart decided to do the photos in black and white to illustrate that people are more alike than different.
"We wanted to promote the idea that we are all exactly the same, no matter who we love,"
he says. "So instead of showing the colors on the outside, we wanted to reduce it down to simple black and white to show that 'love is love' everywhere."
They hope the window display helps prove their point.
"We really want people to know that we're all the same inside, and ask themselves why can't we just get along," Teets says.
He and Hart will also participate in a 'Love Overpass' demonstration at the Nine Mile overpass on I-75 this Saturday, February 11. The demonstration, one of many that have been held around the country, is designed to show support for all people; to address stigma and help those affected and living with HIV. More information available at MrFriendly.org and #HONK4LOVE.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.