18 December 2014

GLAD and Lambda Legal (1973, 1978)


BUILD (GLAD, Lambda Legal)
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Paper: Mawata
Edition: 3
 
GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) and Lambda Legal are both non-profit legal rights organizations that work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression. Lambda Legal, founded in 1973, has a national focus while GLAD, founded in 1978 in response to a sting operation conducted by Boston police at the Boston Public Library, centers their work in New England.

An early victory for GLAD came in 1980 when they represented Aaron Fricke, an 18-year-old student at Cumberland High School in Rhode Island, who won the right to bring a same-sex date to a high school dance. GLAD also represented the plaintiffs in the Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health case that won gay marriage rights in Massachusetts in 2003.

Lambda Legal was instrumental in the Lawrence vs. Texas case.

17 December 2014

Dignity USA and Integrity (1969, 1974)


SANCTIFY (Dignity USA, Integrity)
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Paper: Mawata
Edition: 3

Historically, Christian churches have led the charge in the fight to deny LGBTQ civil rights, but there have been denominations (such as United Church of Christ) that have been allies, and several organizations within more hostile denominations emerged in the early years to support LGBTQ members. Dignity USA, founded by Father Pat Nidorf, began in San Diego, California, in 1969 as a "rap group" for gay and lesbian Catholics. And in the Episcopal Church, Integrity was started in 1974 by a gay man named Louie Crew, who came to San Francisco on a teaching fellowship and was looking for a way to meet other gay Episcopalians. For decades, these groups have quietly but consistently ministered to gays who do not want to leave the church even as the church struggles to accept them.

15 December 2014

PFLAG (1972)


HARBOR (PFLAG)
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Paper: Mawata
Edition: 3

Part of a series of prints based on the shape of a triangle celebrating various organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. during the later 20th century.

PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is the United States' largest organization for parents, families, friends, and allies of LGBTQ people. The group began in April 1972 when Queens schoolteacher Jeanne Manford walked alongside her gay son at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, carrying a sign that read "Parents of Gays: Unite in Support of Our Children." So much has changed since the 1970s, it's difficult to convey how much courage and resolve Manford's simple act of marching beside her son displayed. The overwhelming response to that act led Jeanne, her husband Jules, and early pioneers of the LGBT equality movement to create a support group for members of the LGBT community, their parents, family, and friends.

The first time I encountered PFLAG was at the First National March on Washington in 1979. As we walked the route, a number of people lined the streets. I saw marchers who had stepped aside to see the size of the contingent and cheer us on, men in suits taking photographs (we assumed them to be government agents of some sort), religious counter-demonstrators holding signs condemning us to hell. And then I saw a lone woman holding a hand-made sign: "I'm proud of my gay child." Tears sprang to my eyes, and I unconsciously took a step toward her. She spotted me right away and moved toward me, and we hugged. It was a moment of healing and connection and possibility that I'll never forget.

Thank you, PFLAG, for holding us.

12 December 2014

Lavender Menace (1970)



FLAUNT (Lavender Menace)
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Paper: Mawata
Edition: 3

Part of a series of prints based on the shape of a triangle celebrating various organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. during the later 20th century.

A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. She is the woman who, often beginning at an extremely early age, acts in accordance with her inner compulsion to be a more complete and freer human being than her society (perhaps then, but certainly later) cares to allow her.  …on some level she has not been able to accept the limitations and oppression laid on her by the most basic role of her society -- the female role.  ~ from The Woman-Identified Woman manifesto

The Lavender Menace was formed to protest the exclusion of lesbians and lesbian issues from the feminist movement at the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City on May 1, 1970. Many of the women involved in the protest were members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). The phrase "Lavender Menace" was first used in 1969 by Betty Friedan, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), to describe the threat that she believed associations with lesbianism posed to the emerging women's movement. Friedan and some other straight feminists worried that stereotypes of "mannish" and "man-hating" lesbians would provide an easy way to dismiss the larger movement. After the protest, the group continued to meet, calling themselves the "Radicalesbians."

The Lavender Menace protest included distribution of a manifesto called "The Woman-Identified Woman," which is excerpted above. The manifesto posited that lesbians, by virtue of their outsider status in society and their journey of sexual self-discovery, were in fact a step closer to fully evolved personhood than heterosexual feminists who were still tied to the patriarchy.

This all happened a little before my time, but as I worked on this print I was remembering an artist/photographer named Tee Corrine who was known for portraying lesbian sexuality in her work, and especially her Cunt Coloring Book, published in 1975, which I just learned is still in print.

Those were the days.

11 December 2014

Black Lesbian Caucus (1971)

IDENTIFY (Black Lesbian Caucus)
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Paper: Mawata
Edition: 3

This woodcut is part of a series of prints based on the shape of a triangle celebrating various organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. during the later 20th century.

The Black Lesbian Caucus grew out of the Gay Liberation Front in 1971 and is the oldest black lesbian organization in the United States. In 1974 the Caucus reformulated itself as Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc, an autonomous group of black and Latina lesbians offering its members a social and political alternative to the lesbian and gay bars, which they felt had exploited and discriminated against lesbians of color. The group identified themselves as ‘womanist’ as opposed to ‘feminist,’ using the term to include race and class-based oppression as well as gender oppression. Now called African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change, the group is "committed to the spiritual, cultural, educational, economic and social empowerment of African Ancestral womyn."

03 December 2014

National Transsexual Counseling Unit (1966)


SHIFT (National Transsexual Counseling Unit)
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Paper: Mawata
Edition: 3

This woodcut is part of a series of prints based on the shape of a triangle celebrating various organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. during the later 20th century.

Rights for transgender people have lagged behind rights for cisgender (non-transgender) homosexuals in America, but transgender people have been a part of the LGBT rights fight since the beginning.

In August, 1966, three full years before the Stonewall riots by which most people mark the rise of the gay liberation movement, a group of transgender customers gathered in a 24-hour San Francisco cafeteria called Compton's Cafeteria in the Tenderloin District. Compton's was one of few places where transgender people could congregate because crossdressing was illegal at the time and gay bars, knowing that police would use the presence of transgender people as a pretext for making a raid, were unwelcoming.

Yes, crossdressing was illegal in many places well into the 20th century. In the mid 1800s, many U.S. cities adopted laws against crossdressing, initially as an extension of laws forbidding disguises but the laws were also used as a way to surpress the early women's movement as well as the so-called "sexual deviancy" of "transvestitism." It was well into the second half of the 20th century before such laws began to be taken off the books, mostly based on their vagueness.

Anyway, on that August night in San Francisco in 1966, the patrons at Compton's became "raucous," causing management to call police. When a police officer manhandled one of the patrons, she threw coffee in his face and a riot ensued, eventually spilling out onto the street, destroying public property as well as Compton's plate glass window.

Following the Compton riots, activists established the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, the first peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world.

Counterspells: a Series of White Line Prints

The next few posts are catch-up posts in which I'll be showing you prints I completed in November 2014 for a show that's hanging here in Northampton, MA, called "I Was a 20th Century Lesbian." Because I needed to get these prints done much more quickly than my usual multi-block woodblock method would allow, I chose to do this group of works as white line woodcuts. The prints, which celebrate organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. in the late 20th century, are based on the shape of a triangle, and all eleven of them were completed using just two different matrices.

Matrices for the eleven "Counterspells" prints.
You can see in the photo above that the wood gets stained by the watercolor pigments even though I wash the block from one print to the next. You can also see that I used the bottom matrix more than I used the top one. I also occasionally used an uncarved block for background colors.

The process is painstaking. A sheet of washi (Japanese paper) is attached to one side of the block and pulled aside while pigment is applied to small areas of the block, a little bit at a time, using small watercolor brushes. Impressions are taken using the back of a wooden spoon. The prints are thus printed one at a time -- I found it took about 3 hours per print, and I made three of each design.

I've already posted about the first four prints in the series if you'd like to go back for a look:
1. ACCOMMODATE (Daughters of Bilitis)
2. MASQUERADE (Mattachine Society)
3. ACTIVATE (Gay Liberation Front)
4. DEFY (ACT UP)

First four "Counterspells" prints