featured gallery for June 2007
Queer New World
Parades, festivals, rallies, dances, and marches taking place in New York City and around the world mark June as "Pride Month" for the LGBT community. Though the events that transpired since the 1969 Stonewall riots are widely known, the gender struggle for tolerance, acceptance and inclusion continues to shift and grow. Looking back, we have come a long way in defining gender and sexuality, from just Gay as in the "gay movement," to the inclusion of Lesbian and -- though not without opposition -- Bisexual, Transgender, and even "Q" for those questioning their sexual orientation.
Labels aside, the need to identify ourselves in a more inclusive, but still unique way, has been an important development in our writings and self-definitions. More and more, the word Queer as in gayness has been in use. Though still controversial in its semantics and historical references, Queer is no longer a derogatory word, but instead it has become the one label that best attempts to make the assertion of being "different" in whatever form the relation of gender and sexuality might be.
Queer New World postulates and reinforces a new treatment for this very (re)definition. Through the works of 20 artists from the archives of Visual AIDS, this online exhibition presents a Post Queer vision. A world where not everything is so black or white, right or left, female or male, gay or straight, transvestite or transgender, but where variations and complex constructions of Being, Self, and Identity are evident. The selected works speak a language that bends past gender constructions and definitions. The photographs, paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works reflect a Post Queer artistic and cultural movement where people, and in this case artists, are unapologetic, blunt and fearless of demolishing existing binary gender/sexual discourses.
In this Queer New World it is not so easy to speak about homosexual male and/or female characterizations. We confront a new breed of men and women (and I use the biological definition, even if by doing so I am limited by language itself) who not only transgress their sexuality, but their identity. Therefore, Post Queerness is also a question, and perhaps a refusal to accept even the limitations of what "Queer" now represents. Is "queer" a young man who does not want to be identified only as "gay" because he appears gender-neutral? Or is "queer" a lesbian who looks like a male body builder from the waist up, but who still has a vagina? Or is "queer" a trans M to F who is romantically involved with a F to M person? Or is "queer" a young boy who can safely attend school in skirts and Timberland boots?
Artistically, as the works included demonstrate, the tendencies of breaking the gender constraints have been present for quite some time now. Some of the art works date to the early 90s, but most were realized in the later years of that convoluted decade. The early years of this new millennium have been a turning point for many artists whose work can now be more contextualized in a new and Post Queer frame of reference where a gay man doesn't necessarily have to be muscled to appear more masculine, or a young lesbian need not be butch to conform, or a transgender person doesn't necessarily have to be in drag to be understood. In celebration and commemoration of a history that is still in the making, and not exclusively during the month of June, it's time to consider the (re)negotiations that we must face and act upon when dealing with gender, sexuality, and our own identities.