I wrote "The Wedding of Tom to Tom" about 13 or 14 years ago, inspired by my years working in group-homes, especially by the people I worked with and supported. There were all kinds of memories and images in my head, and when I came up with a story to go along with them I was kind of overjoyed. This story still sticks with me. It is sort of my manifesto. The plot's very simple: two direct-care staff in a group-home assist two gay men with developmental disabilities to get married, against both the rules of the group-home and the rules of the state. The two "Toms" have been friends and lovers since they met each other in an institution years ago, and their love truly is how they separate themselves from a fucked-up world. The main character is a woman who has an ex who just got out of jail, and she turns the secret wedding planning into a version of saving her own soul.
Link to the story: "The Wedding of Tom to Tom."
Link to a discussion of the story by students in a Disabilities Studies class: "Dis/Lit Discussion."
Link to the original images I used for the "Tom to Tom" collages: "Tom to Tom" images.
One of the major images of the story that continues to haunt me: "This big hanger building," Dad says, from the podium. Tom and Tom are right there in front of him. "Pink light, like exploding roses. The red-light district. Ha ha. No. A stampede. You gotta hear it. A thousand-plus feet. I am on the other side and I look up and all these shaved-headed people are running right at me in the red light. It's like they just got freed, you know? Like the concentration camp just opened its doors and they got out and they're running. They don't know where they're going or nothing. They're coming right at me. And I want that to happen. I want them to run me over."
What I wanted to do with these collages is reinvent the way I visualized the story by thinking about the totems I used. I wanted to back away from the story and see it in my head as a sort of silent movie, black and white and solemn and strange. I did 22 collages in all, on index cards. I took images from the internet and Xeroxed them, so that there's no color, only a sort of paper-cut contrast.