Pride month often times feels like a holiday and while it is innately a loving time to celebrate yourself, your friends, and family it is also a month to reflect on LGBTQ+ history. This year’s Pride is made ever more powerful as it is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City, a demonstration that broke out in the early morning of June 28th, 1969 and proved to be a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ rights.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is usually closed on the Sunday of New York’s Pride March designating it a holiday alongside Christmas and the Fourth of July. This year, though, the museum won’t be shuttered for the holiday, instead, it’ll be a part of the march. As part of a collaboration with Deutsche Bank, which funds one of the museum’s public education programmes called ‘Embrace’, the Leslie-Lohman has commissioned reproductions of Gabriel Garcia Román ‘Queer Icons’ series to use as part of the parade’s processional.
Garcia Román first began the series in 2011 and has worked with it ever since. ‘Queer Icons’ is a nod to traditional depictions of religious icons and uses that format to portray queer and trans people of colour. Against colourful, collaged backgrounds, Garcia Román uses a black and white photograph of his subject and finishes them with the large, flat halo synonymous with religious works, particularly those golden orbs of the medieval period. The series is ‘about reclaiming history,’ Garcia Román told ARTnews. ‘This project shifts the narrative back to the communities that have been made invisible by the mainstream society. These are our modern-day saints—people who are putting their lives on the line for our community.’
‘Queer Icons’ includes about 50 images, many of which use artists, like Lola Flash, Fatima Jamal, Kia LaBeija, and Ignacio G Rivera, as their subject while others feature activists including Jennicet Eva Gutierrez, Ezak Amaviska Perez, Ericka Hart, and Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca. For this collaboration, there will be two variations for each of the images, thus, the Leslie-Lohman will showcase large-scale reproductions of the series and will create about 100 reproductions that will be carried high above the crowds during the parade on June 30th.
‘When we were invited by Deutsche Bank to march with them, I knew that as an art museum we needed to participate with an artist project,’ said Gonzalo Casals, executive director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum. ‘In a parade that is so important to the context of the anniversary of Stonewall, we wanted to use this platform to celebrate the voices of those who are marginalized and often don’t get the attention in the mainstream.’
In addition to celebrating Pride by participating in the annual march, the Leslie-Lohman is currently exhibiting three exhibitions that focus on art of and the time around the Stonewall Rebellion. ‘Y’all Better Quiet Down’ (June 6th through July 12th), ‘Being Seen Makes a Movement Possible’ (June 2019 through May 2020), and ‘Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989’ (April 24th through July 21st) each tell a unique story of the many facets of the monumental moment in history.