2017-02-12 / Insight

‘Love is love’ no matter who you love

Same-sex couple embarks on February project
BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 •


Imlay City photographer Steve Teets looks over photos of his niece, Nichole and her children, and Josh Fortuna and Michael Hendrickson, a same-sex couple that is friends with Teets and his husband, Jeffery Hart. Hart and Teets have created a photo display, “Love is Love,” to celebrate love in all its forms. 
Photo by Phil Foley Imlay City photographer Steve Teets looks over photos of his niece, Nichole and her children, and Josh Fortuna and Michael Hendrickson, a same-sex couple that is friends with Teets and his husband, Jeffery Hart. Hart and Teets have created a photo display, “Love is Love,” to celebrate love in all its forms. Photo by Phil Foley IMLAY CITY — Most people in Imlay City who know Steve Teets and Jeffery Hart refer to them simply as “the boys.”

They didn’t wait for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 upholding a 2014 U.S. District Court decision declaring Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in violation of the U.S. Constitution — paving the way for a flood of gay marriages nationwide. The couple exchanged vows in the backyard of the old McKinley Hotel, which serves both as their home and houses Hart’s business, Somewhere in Time, just four days after the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati began hearing arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder.


Steve Teets shows off a sign to promote the “Love is Love” campaign he and his husband, Jeffery Hart, came up with after a trip to Washington last month. Concerned by what they see as a shift in national attitudes, the couple decided they needed to do something to promote love and acceptance. 
Photo by Phil Foley Steve Teets shows off a sign to promote the “Love is Love” campaign he and his husband, Jeffery Hart, came up with after a trip to Washington last month. Concerned by what they see as a shift in national attitudes, the couple decided they needed to do something to promote love and acceptance. Photo by Phil Foley Not long after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld same-sex marriages Teets and Hart drove to the county clerk’s office in Lapeer and made official what they already knew in their hearts.

However, while in Washington for a protest march last month, Teets said they became concerned that “the freedoms we’ve worked so hard for are going to be stripped away.”

While President Donald Trump has given mixed messages about gay rights both during the campaign and since his inauguration, Teets, Hart and others like them have a growing worry that the Trump administration will be hostile toward them.

Standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, Teets said, Hart suggested, “Let’s do something for love in February.” He said they decided they wanted to do something that “encompassed love in all its forms.”

They settled on doing black and white portraits of people in love. Teets said they decided on black and white prints because they felt it minimized the differences between people. “We’re all the same on the inside,” Teets said. “Regardless of our nationality, race or gender, we all bleed red.”

Hart added, “We have made so many great advancements in equal rights recently, and yet there is still so much hate in the world towards people who some feel are ‘different.’ Love is the answer, love has no boundaries, knows no age, sexual orientation, race, or religion. So I get asked the question of what is love? It’s pretty simple...Love is Love.”

“Being gay and married is a scary thing now,” Teets said.

The couple set about recruiting a group of friends who represent different forms of love.

There’s Frank and Barb Demske, whose office is just down the street. They’re both rabid football fans — he roots for the University of Michigan, while she cheers for Michigan State. Teets’ niece, Nichole Teets, is a single mom. She was photographed with her children Kylah Teets and Jayden Hall.

Renee Jackson is minister at United Methodist Church in Imlay City. She came in with her husband, Dabney. So did Margaret Guerrero DeLuca, her husband, Joe, and their children Daniella and Diego. They encompass traditional couples.

Josh Fortuna of Sterling Heights and Michael Hendrickson of Pontiac are a gay couple Teets and Hart have known for years.

Possibly the most unique example of love in their collection is Richelle Martin. Until she lost more than half her body size and discovered who she was inside, she was known as “Big Rich,” a fixture are the Eastern Michigan State Fair and a sidekick of Ian Kempf. Teets said she’s an example of loving and accepting yourself for who you really are.

Teets hung the six portraits in the front window of the studio alongside a large red and white sign proclaiming “Love is Love.” He and Hart also created a Facebook page of the same name,

Through the rest of the month Teets and Hart will offer photo sitting at a fifth their usual fee and add portraits to their Facebook page.

They want people to understand that the most important thing about love is that love is love no matter who you are or who you love.

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 The County Press, All Rights Reserved

Click here for the E-Edition
2017-02-12 digital edition

Unrestricted access available to web site subscribers

Subscribers to the County Press newspaper can now purchase the complete online and E-Edition of the paper for as little as $5 for three months. If you want a six month subscription to the online edition it is $10 and a full year can be purchased for $20.

Non-subscribers can sign up for the online version for $15 for three months, $30 for six months and $60 for an annual subscription.