Beautiful Portraits Highlight What “Love” Means for People With Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome Couples in Love

Brie and Greg

Love knows no bounds, and photographer Hilary Gauld has captured this in a series featuring the relationships of people with Down syndrome. The photo project, titled Love Means, seeks to raise awareness and dispel the misconceptions of those with the genetic disorder. Gauld worked with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) and profiled nine different “love stories” about individuals who either have Down syndrome or are in a relationship with someone who does. They pose in striking black-and-white portraits as well as share their relationship stories and what love means to them.

Gauld had been looking forward to Love Means for the last two years. “Having the opportunity to meet these couples and individuals,” she tells My Modern Met, “hearing their stories and watching their interactions meant a lot to me. To be able to capture their love for the world to see and to make more space for other love stories in mainstream media was my inspiration.”

The folks featured in the project highlight the different types of affection we call love. Some are romantic relationships of heterosexual couples while others are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Gauld profiles platonic best friends as well as single people. “My hope is that these stories and visuals simply inspire, educate, and create the space for greater visibility of the experiences adults with Down syndrome navigate, including love.”

It is uncommon to see depictions of romantic love in the Down syndrome community—something that Love Means hopes to change. “Our campaigns are always aimed at spreading awareness about Down syndrome,” explains Laura LaChance, Executive Director with CDSS. “They also help support solutions for issues that individuals with Down syndrome face. Right now, there is an overwhelming lack of awareness and understanding about the complete lives that people with Down syndrome live, and about the range of emotions they experience. This work will change the public narrative.”

Photographer Hilary Gauld highlights nine different love stories about individuals who either have Down syndrome or are in a relationship with someone who does.

 

Brie and Greg

Down Syndrome Couples in Love

“After meeting at the school where they work together, Greg & Brie have grown their relationship. The couple, who got engaged this past September, are excited to get married and live together. They really enjoy watching movies, especially comedies, and cuddling on the couch. They look forward to the pandemic being over so they can once again hang out with their friends on Fridays.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeText About Love Relating to People With Down Syndrome

 

Jessica and Matt

Down Syndrome Couples in Love

“Jessica and Matt met while performing in a drama company. After they had acted in a few scenes together, the coach introduced Matt to Jessica. They became fast friends, and they love going to the movies and dinners together. They are each other’s best friend and think of each other like siblings.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeText About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeDown Syndrome Friendship

 

Kirk and Beth

Down Syndrome Couples in Love

“Kirk and Beth met at WALES (Working Adults Learning Empowering Skills), enjoying Thursday lunches together at William’s Café as friends, until 12 years ago on Valentine’s Day, Beth asked Kirk out. Now they have dates at home (which were made difficult by Covid) and enjoy doing puzzles, word searches, playing Skip-Bo, and going out for lunch together. One of their favorite memories is slow dancing together at a big dance.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeText About Love Relating to People With Down Syndrome

 

Krystal and Tammy

Down Syndrome Couple in Love

“In June 2019, they met at the Showtime Comedy and Entertainment while helping a mutual friend at a book release concert. Krystal performed an acting/comedy skit with her social worker, while Tammy was singing. They noticed each other but didn’t have much of a chance to get to know each other. They reconnected three months later, first becoming friends until Krystal expressed her feelings to Tammy and they began dating.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeText About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeDown Syndrome Couple in Love

 

Naomi

Person With Down Syndrome Smiling and Posing

“As a single woman, Naomi loves spending her time with friends, watching movies, and doing sports like rhythmic gymnastics, swimming and downhill skiing. She dreams of being in fashion or a model and a celebrity. Naomi would love to meet someone with Down syndrome who has 5 no freckles, is taller than her brother (6'3″), dresses more modern than her dad, and is a little silly. When she does meet a partner, she looks forward to getting married and going to Paris with him.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeText About Love Relating to People With Down Syndrome

 

Paige and Tyler

Down Syndrome Couples in Love

“After first meeting at soccer, Paige & Tyler also ended up going to the same high school together. As a couple, some of their favorite things to do are playing hockey together, golfing, and kissing in her room. They dream of getting married and moving into a house or apartment together.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeDown Syndrome Couples in Love

 

Ryan

Person With Down Syndrome Smiling and Posing

“Ryan’s hobbies include dancing, DJ-ing, and learning new things. He loves socializing with peers, and always looks forward to weekend outings with his social group. Ryan has a crush on a school friend and has made a lot of wonderful memories with her, including going to the Special Olympics and a dance together. In the future, Ryan would love to be married.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromePerson With Down Syndrome Smiling and Posing

 

Tatem and Michael

Down Syndrome Couples in Love

“After being on the same team for a Motionball fundraising event in 2013, sparks flew. This engaged couple looks forward to buying a big house, getting married, and having kids together someday. They missed seeing each other on a regular basis during Covid, but daily messages and video chats helped them stay close while staying safe. As restrictions lift, Tatem is excited to watch Michael play hockey again soon.”

Text About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeText About Love Relating to People With Down SyndromeDown Syndrome Couples in Love

Hilary Gauld: Website | Instagram | Facebook 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Hilary Gauld.

Related Articles:

Dad With Down Syndrome Raises a Dentist Son and Shows the Power of Love

Model With Down Syndrome Makes Her Historic Debut in New Victoria’s Secret Campaign

Baby Girl With Down Syndrome Is Adopted by a Doting Dad After Being Rejected by 20 Families

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.

Sponsored Content

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]