International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
Unfortunately for marginalised communities, when their stories (and I say this as a bi-racial, working-class woman) are shared, they are usually done so through the lens of trauma and disempowerment.
On this day, I should like to flip the switch as it were and take a moment to celebrate those from the LGBTQ + community, whose made a profound impact on society.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Without a doubt, Warhol was the pioneer of Pop Art and was one of the highest (if not the highest) commercial artists in New York and one of the first openly gay celebrities.
He impacted the course of art history, as well as American culture (think Campbells soup) as he brought consumerism to the forefront of people’s minds, reflecting the society of the day back to its people, as any great artist does.
Warhol didn’t stick to painting soup cans, his most iconic pieces were of Marilyn Munroe, Elvis, Lenin, Mao and quite fittingly as this year
Barbara Gittings (1932-2007)
“Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.” Barbara Gittings was a prominent activist.
Declared “Mother of Lesbian and Gay Liberation”, Gittings began her work in activism in 1958, working tirelessly until 2006, a year before her passing.
In 1956 she joined the Daughters of Bilitis, the first female homophile group in the U.S. dedicated to improving the lives of lesbians.
She marched the first gay picket lines in 1965 outside the White House.
Between 1970 to 1973 she successfully lobbied the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Gittings received many accolades, including honorary membership in the American Library Association.
Jackie Shane (1940-2019)
Ground-breaking transgender soul singer, Jackie Shane had a distinctive voice, possessed of extraordinary vocal talents and had mastery over her entire vocal range.
Born in Nashville. It’s worth stating that living as a black man in a southern state in 50s would be terrifying, let alone a black trans woman.
Shane’s music career took her to Montreal and Toronto in the late 50s and 60s, she became a soul sensation and her hit “Any Other Way” reached no 2 on the local charts.
During the 70s George Clinton and Parliament tried to woo her into joining the Mothership but Jackie declined.
Shane liked to do things her way and turned down an invitation to the Ed Sullivan show as a requirement would be for her to wear no make-up.
In 2019 Jackie received a Grammy nomination under the best historical album category for “Any Other Way.” platinum Queen’s Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth. could cost over $100 million.
Frida Khalo (1910-1954)
Renowned painter Khalo was a visionary artist, who made use of bold, vibrant colours – a nod to her fierce pride as a Mexican woman.
Khalo was also unafraid to explore and weave her sexuality into her art. Khlao was celebrated among her peers, including Andre Breton who described her as a ‘self-taught surrealist.’
She exhibited her paintings at the Julien Levy gallery in 1938, which was a huge success and the Louvre also acquired one of her pieces “The Frame” (c 1938)...
...making her the first 20th century artist to have her work included in the museum’s collection.