We Don't Need Straight Celebs to Tell Us Gay Love Is Love -- but These Images Are Still Beautiful (PHOTOS)

Eva Longoria and Lara Fabian by Olivier Ciappa

What does love look like? As part of a campaign to spread awareness that, while it appears in many forms, love is always love, actress Eva Longoria appears in a series of photographs portraying the lover of singer Lara Fabian.

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In addition to Longoria and Fabian, French photographer Olivier Ciappa's project, titled Imaginary Couples, features a host of actors, artists, and athletes -- including Sicario director Denis Villeneuve and Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallee -- as "imaginary" gay couples.

Academy Award Nominee director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyer Club - The Wild) with Denis Villeneuve (Prisonners - Incendies - the next Blade Runner).

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Friday, July 31, 2015

Ciappa's hope, according to his website, is to spread a message of "peace and unity."

Eva Longoria et Lara Fabian.BONNE NOUVELLE !!!Vu le nombre de mails que j'ai reçu de personnes qui râlaient ou qui é...

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Saturday, May 25, 2013

E! News translates the photographer's explanation from the French as: "Homophobia is the first symptom of a widespread ignorance of homosexuality, a distorted vision, sometimes fantasy ... So I wanted the viewer to confront the sweetness, the simplicity of these images in order to change her look, sweep its representations and keep only the essentials: love, nothing but love."

Florent Manaudou et Frédéric Bousquet pour Les Couples Imaginaires.L'exposition commence aujourd'hui sur les grilles...

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

However, not everyone is in love with Ciappa's idea...

"Okay, points for lovely execution, but do we really need the validation of 'straight people pretending to be gay'?" asks one commenter on The Huffington Post's article on the photos. "How would folks feel if there was a series of photos of white folks pretending to be black 'just to show support'?"

Another commenter calls the project beautiful ... but "condescending in a backhanded manner."

Photo inédite : Eva Longoria et Lara Fabian.Si vous aimez, oubliez pas de likez et partager.Eva Longoria and Lara Fabian "Imaginary Couples" french photos campaign for gay rights

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I myself wasn't sure how to feel at first -- the photos are truly beautiful...

Rebecca Hampton, enceinte, avec Nadège Beausson-Diagne.Deux actrices.Mais d’abord deux femmes.La photo a été faite...

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo inédite : Nicolas Duvauchelle et Guillaume GouixVous préférez laquelle ?

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Monday, March 9, 2015

But is there something condescending or strange about straight celebrities pretending to be gay?

The Huffington Post reports that Ciappa "found inspiration for the project from homophobic attitudes he encountered globally -- particularly following the legalization of same-sex marriage in France."

The photos are apparently meant to be shown in an exhibition with real gay couples and families -- an interesting choice and juxtaposition. Ciappa explains to the Huffington Post:

The celebrities that I shot are heterosexual, but it was essential to me that you would believe these imaginary couples and families they portray were real. If you couldn’t identify with their love and feel it was real, then I would have failed. And to show that love is love, no matter who [is involved], the exhibition also features real gay families, straight ones, single parents, disabled, people of different skin colors and origins, different religion, young couples, old ones…

Here's a self-portrait featuring the photographer himself ...

 

Parce que moi aussi j'en peux plus ces horribles discours homophobes qu'on entend en France depuis plusieurs semaines....

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Wednesday, November 14, 2012

There are more of these gorgeous photos on Ciappa's website and Facebook page. And, while I understand that his project gives some people pause -- and others find it truly offensive -- ultimately, I think that it's a beautiful thing, to showcase love in all forms.

I'd rather looks at Ciappa's lovely, sweet, and touching photos of actual gay couples and families, but I'm not someone who needs to be convinced that homosexuality is just as beautiful and valid as heterosexuality. I don't need a celebrity to tell me that a kiss or an intimate look between two women in love is a beautiful thing -- but I can appreciate the power of an image. Think of the world even 10 years ago, and then think of how these photos would have been received ... our society is changing, but not fast enough. And not everywhere.

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By pairing the imaginary with the real, the well-known with the non-famous, Ciappa's message of love and openness transcends boundaries. And that is something I can support, with my whole heart.

 

Les homophobes ont tout perdu. En saccageant les photos de mon exposition pour la censurer, ils lui ont offert une...

Posted by Olivier Ciappa on Monday, July 1, 2013

Beautiful.

 

 

Images via Oliver Ciapa/Facebook

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