For those of you that don’t know, June is International Pride month. I thought this was the perfect time to share with you a series of images I’ve had in my head for quite some time. I’ve finally got them out of my crazy brain and turned them into real pictures!

Firstly lets get things straight (pardon the pun), diversity and equality are a couple of the latest buzz words companies are using to make their potential customers feel included. I am not one of those people! As a teenager growing up gay in a tiny island community, life got pretty tough at times, I don’t mind telling you that I attempted to take my own life and that I was a regular self-harmer. I was depressed and I felt so unbelievably alone. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life learning to accept that my differences are what make me me and I should embrace them not hide them! Never did I imagine I would find someone to share my life with, that finding the fairytale romance I dared to dream of would come true. I was destined for a life of loneliness and unrequited love. Never mind the idea that I would be allowed to marry that person and share the same rights as any man and woman in love. Then along came Chris and a new life in New Zealand. We’ve been together for almost 16 years, in a civil partnership for 9 and married for 2.

Why am I telling you this?

Well it’s a HUGE part of the reason I wanted to create this series of images. It only seems right, given that I’m a pet photographer, to create them with dogs. After all Dogs don’t judge. Well not on the big stuff, they will probably give you the side eye if you ‘forget’ to share your cheese toastie, or put you in the figurative dog house if you don’t take them for their walk, but ultimately dogs just want to love and be loved in return (spot my fave movie reference there).

I’ve titled this series #DogIsLove, keeping in mind while I was creating them that I wanted to celebrate love, equality and diversity in all its shapes and forms. These images suggest marriage which, outside of the religious confines (I don’t believe in God), I believe is the most epic way to proclaim your love for another person. These images are here to say that the colour of your skin, your gender, your sexuality, religion, disabilities, age, what you wear, how you look, none of that matters. Love and kindness is what matters. They were created with love and I hope that you love looking at them. If you do, I’d love (there’s that word again) for you to share them and share this message: Love IS Love.

“I Do” say Ralph and Reggie

“3 legs make it one more than my people have” Mac doesn’t care Lucas has 3 legs, nor does Lucas

“Can you believe I’m marrying Loulou? She’s easily an 11” – Pepe (an 8 on a good day)

“Who knew an 84 year old could find love with someone half their age!” – Daisy on Luna

“Flynn, straighten your bow tie, they’re taking pictures” – Indie

“What Ed lacks in size he makes up in personality” – Moe

“I love everything about Barnaby, except the snoring” – Louie

“Let me whisper sweet nothings Louie” – Lola

“I knew right away that Mowgli was the dog for me” – Charlie

“I love Dusty’s slobbery kisses” – Belle

Zhiva spends way more time getting ready than me” – Banzé

My intention is to continue to create images for this series, I had a huge response to my model call and I’m still working on the almost 350 emails I received, but if you’re reading this and think you have a pair of dogs who are a perfect picture of diversity and want to spread a little love, please get in touch.

On a more serious note, if you are struggling to feel loved, reach out to someone, to family or friends. Talk to them, let them in, let them help. They love you. If that isn’t possible for whatever reason, reach out to an organisation like Lifeline (0800 543 354), OUTlineNZ (0800 688 5463) or RainbowYOUTH. Above all please remember, and I’m talking from my own experience here, it gets better.

Love to you all.

Craig

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