Interview: Photographer Rick Motzkus

By Mark McNease

One of the things being editor of lgbtSr has taught me is to stay on the lookout.  I’m always scanning the news very early in the morning, and my “pay attention” gene seems to have multiplied exponentially the past year.  I pay attention to the headlines, attention to what interests me and what I think will interest readers, and I pay attention to others: authors, poets, educators, photographers.

I happened upon Rick Motzkus’s photography in a roundabout way, through another photographer’s images we used as part of an interview.  It gets to the serendipitous nature of life and the pleasures of not knowing what we might discover each day.  Rick’s photography was one of those pleasures.  I was immediately struck by Rick’s series of aging LGBT faces and people and knew this was someone I wanted to introduce to the site’s readers, and to meet myself.  Rick is a clear example of who we are here, continuing to live, declining to be silent or to fade, and following our passions.

MM:  Could you tell us the basics first: where you live, how you got there, a bit about you and your partner Joe?

RM:  I was born 57 years ago inOmaha,Nebraska, but I’ve lived in SouthernCaliforniamost of my life.  I met my husband, Joe, 36 years ago right after I turned 21.  We met at a local disco, Ripples, right before last call, ended up going to coffee afterwards until4:30in the morning.  By the time we left the coffee shop, we knew there was something special going on.  We’ve lived inLong Beachfor the last 26 years, and we have the most wonderful kids:  Buddy and Rosie, two golden retrievers.

In 2006, on our 30th anniversary, we went through a commitment ceremony.  Going into it, I thought it would just be a nice affirmation of our lives together.  However, during the ceremony I found myself crying, Joe was crying, the minister was crying with us, and I realized this was the happiest day of my life.  It was incredible to be in front of family and friends and celebrating our love together.  During the window period before Prop. 8 passed in November 2008, we joined the other 18,000 couples who got legally married.  So many people had fought so hard for gays to marry that we felt we didn’t have a choice but to support our community in any way we could.