The Couch Series | Homo Sweet Homo

This is (from left to right) Artemis(cat), Kris, Mylo, Mason, Rustle(dog), Vanity a la Mode, (Kyle), Dexter, Pip & Alex

Perched on the black shelving unit alongside their Oriamese cat, Artemis, sits a turquoise blue frame featuring a vintage-inspired embroidered sign that reads, “Homo Sweet Homo”. It’s a small detail but it’s one of my favourites as it perfectly captures the unique make up of this truly modern family.

Hailing from the east end of Toronto, these couch dwellers have one of the most beautiful family dynamics I’ve ever witnessed. Their sense of community and unconditional love is so genuine that it will make you feel a part of the family as soon as you enter their home.

Kris was the one who initially reached out to me and got the ball rolling for this couch shoot. She sold me right away when she described each member of her family and sent me a photo of their space. Kris is the woman in all black sitting on the floor. She’s a 32 year old artist, music director and student. But most importantly, she’s the proud mother of her two boys, Mylo & Dexter. Kris was so incredibly welcoming and excited to make this photo happen. I’m so thankful for all her hard work coordinating each family member’s busy schedule so that we could make this shoot happen.

Mylo is the 8 year old boy sitting just above Kris. When I asked him some of his favorite things to do, playing soccer, Nintendo and chess were all high on his list. When I arrived, he was playing chess with his “Papa”, Alex. He was so polite, inquisitive and took direction so well.

Dexter is Mylo’s younger brother. He’s 7 year old and, like his brother, he loves soccer. However, one of his most unique qualities, especially at his age, is his taste in clothing. I thought his parents dressed him up in anticipation for the shoot, but no — that was all him. 

FUN FACT: Dexter & Mylo were born 364 days apart. So one day a year, they’re the same age and They’ve dubbed it “Twinsies” day.

Pip is the tattooed priest on the far right side of the couch. He is the proud biological father of Dexter & Mylo. At the age of 31, Pip is breaking the preconceived notions of what it means to be a priest. This Anglican priest proudly shows his tattoos and is happily married to his husband, Alex. Pip has such a cool vibe about him and is like no other priest I’ve ever met. His incredible stories and engaging personality make you want to attend one of his services, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs.

Alex is sitting on the floor right below Pip. His floral designed shirt closely connects to Pip’s tattoo. Alex is a director and producer and has a really interesting documentary coming out soon about their family. He is the proud father of Dexter & Mylo. His role as a dad was clear from the first moment I entered the house. After winning in a game of chess with Mylo, he praised Mylo for all of the great things he did and encouraged him to keep playing. His sound fatherly advice made it evident that he was more than just Pip’s husband, but an integral part to their family.

Mason showed up late to the shoot, so I never got the chance to get some further insight about him. He is a 32 year old consultant and educator. He’s the proud owner of Rustle and is the latest addition to their crew, having moved in a year ago.

Vanity a la Mode A.K.A Kyle is a proud Drag Queen. While there are many layers to this image, Vanity a la Mode is definitely the focal point and brings so much life and colour to the story. Kyle is a hardworking 33 year old who is doing some great work as a development officer over at Rainbow Railroad. Rainbow Railroad is a Canadian charitable organization that helps LGBTQ individuals around the world escape violence and persecution.

When I heard about this shoot and learned that they had a drag queen in the mix, I was praying that Kyle would dress in drag for the shoot. I didn’t want to force it as I want my subjects to represent themselves however they see fit. But I must admit, I was so excited and blown away when she entered the room with her bright red hair in a black kimono. Just so happens she was given the kimono from a friend ages ago and could never find the right time to wear it until this shoot.

The Couch

Pip was the one that initially found the family couch at “The Millionaire’s Daughter” in Aurora about two years ago. Upon seeing the couch, he immediately phoned Kris with excitement saying, “It’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever see. It’s like a pompous, Victorian, grandma couch!”

Since then, the whole family has been putting in some quality time developing grooves and making memories on this lavish couch.

Everyone is in agreement that it’s mainly used for family hangout time with Kris adding that they “have deep and meaningful conversations about life, love and how to be the best family we can be.” Mylo also made sure to chime in that it’s used for “playing Nintendo” too!

There is so much to love about this couch. The carved mouldings flow effortlessly from one end to the other. The white cushioned material has held up incredibly well, even with two young boys, five adults and two pets. It’s super comfortable and really compliments the other pieces of furniture that aren’t shown in this image. This couch was clearly created with love and precision — It’s an absolute beauty.

One of the most obvious and unique qualities about their space was the mix of old and new. Alex gave me the perfect rationale behind their choice of decor explaining that when his Grandfather died, the family inherited an assortment of classical furniture. Being a bunch of young people, they realized that the furniture didn’t reflect their age range. They decided to add some pop art above the couch. “Problem solved,” he said. 

When you look beyond the couch, you can get lost in the many small details that fill in their space. The baskets of yarn & knitting needles was something that stood out to me. I wouldn’t really have pegged any of them as a knitter. Then you have the 3 superhero prints that at first may seem out of place, but once you get settled in, you see how the colorful yet classic prints really help round out the space. 

It goes without saying that this group of couch lovers are unique. But, what fascinated me more than anything else was the story behind how this family came together.

Nine years ago, Kris and Pip were married and had a dream of starting a family. They had their first son Mylo and then, 364 days later, they had their second son, Dexter.

Shortly after Dexter was born, Kris and Pip made what they described as “one of the hardest, yet best decisions of their lives” to divorce.

“We chose authenticity and began the re-imagining of our family,” Kris explained.

A couple years later, Pip met Alex and the two fell in love. Two years after Alex entered the picture, the whole family found the “perfect little house to rent and became that modern family on the block.”

Shortly after they added a gorgeous Oriamese Cat, Artemis to their growing family. During that same year, Alex and Pip had “the most beautiful gay wedding ever seen”, explained Kris.

Once their perfect family came together, they opened up their doors to some friends. First came Kyle also known as Vanity A La Mode. And then one year later, Mason and Rustle moved in.

“Today, we all live for the hard, yet beautiful work of family: Of choosing family, choosing love and choosing commitment,” Kris said proudly. 

Over the course of this project, I have been welcomed into so many incredible spaces and have met so many lovely people. However, this couch shoot will forever be one of my absolute favourites as I’ve never witnessed such a unconventional, yet cohesive and loving family.

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