I had passed by this store front many times before but, for some reason, it would be on 2 June 2006 when as a tour guide for friends in town from South Boston VA that the Claude Taylor Photography would catch my attention. Though I may would have gone inside, as I said, I was acting as a tour guide and was in the process of showing the four friends shops along the block that may be of interest to them. In particular, Lambda Rising and the HRC Equality Store. At the time, John, Chris and Daniele were inside of Lambda Rising which, moments before, I had introduced them to. But, after an already long day acting as a tour guide, I could not put up with the racism that the staff at Lambda Rising displayed towards me, which was in sharp contrast to the manner by which the staff at Lambda Rising was treating the four white guys that I had brought to the store.
I had taken Chris and Daniele to the back of Lambda and then walked to the front area of the store where John and Joe were and said, it was Friday afternoon, it since it has been my practice when in the Dupont Circle North area to photograph the windows along Connecticut Avenue, I'll be out side, on the street taking pictures, of store windows near by.
Joe said that he would join me which I really preferred that he had not. While I had nothing against him, and would not kick him out of my bed, the expereince that I had just had, at Lambda Rising which was in sharp contrast that of my white friends, affected me so much, that I had to step away. So, I wanted to get outside, before I 'went off' on the staff. And, while I had nothing against Joe, I neeeded some air. Some room to breath. Alone ... would have been my preference. If just for a moment. So as to catch my breath.
Joe, the way well meaning white men will do, followed me to the street. During which time and for the first time I'd observe the Claude Taylor Photography Exhibition. I may would have gone inside but did not, since Joe was with me and we were waiting for John, Chris and Daniele to come outside of Lambda Rising.
I actually had not yet posted the 2 June 2006 series of Windows at Dupont Circle North images because, not wanting to offend John and his friends or make them feel uncomfortable by shedding light on my experiences. Which is why after the 4 July incident I put off the writing of, at least, two photo essays, namely "The Fidler", and "When White Folks Come Around".
A fellow flickrite, Trishlet, was due in town with her son and while we had made no definite plans I wanted to make myself available should she and her soon ask if I could show them around. And since the stuff that I go through, as a black man, can be so god damn twisted, I did not want my experiences to spill over into her visit. Nor make her feel uncomfortable.
On the afternoon of 14 July 2006, during my ritual Friday Photo Walk, I'd head to Dupont Circle North. Earlier, when walking from the Farragut North Station, I had photographed windows and, in the process, focused on shoes. I particularly liked the shoes displays at Betty Fisher where cake stands were used as props. Taking photos from various angles, I'd laugh and think of Susan Gage Caterers and say to myself, Susan would appreciate this.
When I reached Connecticut Avenue at the north side of the Circle I observed Richard Thomspon sitting at the rear of Starbucks with his shoes proped up onto the rear fence railing. And as I had captured his crotch the Friday before, I'd capture his shoes and feet on Friday, 14 July.
And then the backside of an hispanic man leaning against a railing before shifting my focus to Dupont Circle North Windows. Remembering that I had wanted to learn more about the Claude Taylor Photography exhibition while photographing windows and tattoos along the way, I, walked north. Two doors before Claude Taylor Photography I'd observe huge posters in Lambda Rising window emblaced with IRAN: STOP KILLING GAYS pertaining to a 5 pm Rally in Dupont Circle on 19 July. Wanting to bring attention to the event as well as document the window display I'd snap a few shots of the window display at Lambda Rising.
And since the poster did not exhibit any website I stepped inside to inquire of the staff if they had any posters or knew of a website that I may post it to my blog. Observing the manner by which the staff treated me, as soon as walked through the door, which to me is absolutely insane since they know of me as 'the protest photographer' and while, literally, flashing back to my experiences on 2 June I politely said to the staff person behind the corner that as a 52 year old gay black man, I did not appreciate the manner by which I am treated when I visit the store.
After some clairification of what I'm meant she'd ask "Do I treat you that way?". I said 'Yes, you have and each that I've in this store in recent months." She'd hand me a flyer pertaining the rally and just as I would turn to go, the manager walked up and politely asked if could be of any help.
I'd explain, that as a black man, I hate the way that I am treated when I visit Lambda Risin'. He said 'we watch everybody'. I'd respond, 'but not the way you black men!'. Saying to me 'Don't play that race card with me, I pride myself in ...." we'd step outside. He's say 'don't come back no more. And, "... if you do I'll call the police ...!'
It also had been on 4 July 2006 that a white man had said to me 'I'll call the police and put you jail' when at McDonalds on 17th Street and betwen K and I that I inquired of him and his two sons why they were watching me, from just outside the door, take a piss in the bathroom.
It also had been in November or December 2005 when during one of my Friday evening photo walks along Dupont Circle North that white shoe store manager would run outside and say "I'll call the police.' Which then brought to mind 12 February 2005, when I was photographing a group of black basket ball players in Stead Park and with whom I was having a disucssion with, pertaining to my Stead Park project, that 2 white lesbians who were passing by, both with cell phones in their hands, taking pictures of me taking pictures would say "I'll call the police!"
I say all this because my intent was to visit the Travel Photography store to learn more about the Claude Taylor Photography Exhibition. However, after the incident at Lambda Risin' I was in no mood to walk inside of any store ...
I needed some air, and to breath.
Once home, I'd check the website of Charles Taylor Photography and Travel Photography and now wish that I had gone inside. Later when the evening, when I'd post some of my 2 June 2006 window images of Charles Taylor Photography, Trishlet, would, immediately, add a comment to one of the pictures saying that when she and her son had been town that that they had stopped in at Claude Taylor Photography.
Mad as well, but not wantiong my experience to spill over onto her, I put off responding to her until later in the morning. When I had some time breath and catch my breath.
When in the future that I should walk on that block or pass Lambda Risin' I'll flashback to 14 July and 02 June. And when I do return to Lambda Risin', it will in the form of a protest ... as I shout out ... to other black men who've had the same experiences as have I.