PHOTO ESSAY I Modern Family

Troy, Missouri 2012

“My life is like a movie. There’s love, violence, and drugs.”

Sierra Mullaney, 20, Taylor Barton, 19, and Aydin Barton, 1, are an unconventional family.  As a young gay teen, Sierra asked her best friend Taylor to father her child.  Now, within the walls of their one-bedroom government subsidized apartment both parents strive to recreate an isolated reality for their son Aydin – a raw safe space imbued with the love and stability absent from their own childhoods. Sierra emerged from a background tattered with abuse, neglect and drugs, while Taylor’s family have continuously applied pressure abhorring his life style choices with a woman who is “too dark skinned.”

Matters are complicated as Sierra continues to date and love women and Taylor wants his best friend to love him in a committed relationship. Despite the complexities of raising a child in an unorthodox manner, Taylor harnesses an unwavering loyalty to his new family.

Taylor, currently unemployed, yet a dedicated father, cares for Aydin during the day, as he juggles nappies and maintains the home with cartoons blaring the background.  Sierra works the graveyard shift at Casey’s – a nearby gas station, making ends meet.

“I’m surprised through everything that he’s still here.”