While we spent Pride month celebrating LGBTQ+ folx who fought tirelessly to love the ones they love, that should be anything but a June-specific celebration; it should be year-round. And we couldn’t possibly honor these millions of people who identify as LGBTQ, pansexual, asexual, intersex, nonbinary, polyamorous, or genderqueer without acknowledging how they got here — and how they are continuing to build their own families.
Birth isn’t one of those topics that easily gets a crowd going. Bring up vernix or contractions at a party, and you can practically feel a wave of nausea pass through the room. But birth — the literal blood, sweat, tears, and, yes, contractions — is one of the most incredible experiences that deserves our reverence and awe. It also deserves to be portrayed accurately. Raw, chaotic, painful, joyful, beautiful, and rich in diversity.
Too often, images depicting childbirth (yes, they exist outside of textbooks, but they’re still rare), feature predominantly cis-hetero couples. That’s not only misleading; it’s also a missed opportunity to showcase the resilience, tenderness, and love shared by LGBTQ+ parents and their newborn children. And at this moment, as the world grapples with a global pandemic and the extraordinary task of dismantling centuries of systemic racism and discrimination (including against Black and Brown LGBTQ+ folx), these peeks at new life are necessary reminders that love prevails and that change is possible. Ahead, we’ve gathered just a sampling of that joy captured by childbirth photographers from all over the country.
Please note: The following images show childbirth in all of it’s beautiful, messy glory. If you are uncomfortable seeing all parts of the female anatomy, do not click through.
A version of this story was originally published in June 2020.