June is Pride month; this means rainbow-bearing flags and beautiful (non-binary, femme representing, male/female representing, lesbian, gay, trans and queer) bodies reign over the world like a kaleidoscopic storm. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and this year, on the 15th day of Pride month, something monumental happened.
In honour of not only Pride month, but also the recent astronomical legal win in America, we decided to explore how art fights for LGBTQ+ Civil Rights.
Fired for being gay
The top court in the US ruled that employers who fire workers for being gay or transgender are breaking civil rights laws. This is a major win for LGBTQ+ workers, many of whom still felt the need to hide their sexuality and gender identity at work, out of fear of losing their jobs. Although the court has experience in making decisions regarding gay rights, this is the first time it has spoken about legally protecting transgender rights.
Boundaries between bodies
It is important to remember that art produced by LGBTQ artists isn’t a mere extension of their bodies, gender or sexuality. Art is arguably the most effective medium for conveying the human experience, especially the experience of living in a body that is not always accepted by heteronormative codes. As a species we love to create boundaries- whether physical frontiers between lands or social body conducts designed to measure our value against others.
Art and painting’s power lies in its ability to invite everyone to a conversation they didn’t realise was theirs to discuss. LGBTQ+ paintings provide a refuge for all those navigating the discrepancy between their identity and the identity that is forced upon them by heteronormative social ciphers. Painting provides a very visual means to demonstrate how LGBTQ bodies have to literally draw themselves onto the canvas of social context, and it also crucially provides the means to unlearn these harmful classifications and labellings of bodies.
Through artworks and painting, artists literally create starting points for discussion which then lead to reflection, education and eventually reformation.