Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017
The moment I arrived, I was totally captivated. The red brick building is adorned with green vines and strong lights, complete with a bar near the back indicating that this is a place where people come together to spend good time. The welcoming environment continues inside: several tables filled the room with stacks of books and magazines sitting atop. The day I visited, there were about four people quietly and diligently accounting for each publication. One of them, we'll call him Jim, came up to us and offered us the opportunity to see the current exhibit. Please refer to Midori's post about her trip to the archives for an in depth intro into their current exhibit featuring Die Kraenke!
And of course, I am truly grateful to have gone through this experience under the guidance of our professor. From the very first day, I was treated with an opportunity to genuinely connect with an educator that was able to share so much knowledge with me. Most of all, I am super glad that this blog exists. Discussion during class is interesting, but here everyone has a full stage that they are able to take with them elsewhere which has allowed us to teach each other from outside the classroom (and keeping these permanent opportunities online).
Sunday, March 19, 2017
During my visit to the One Archives, I had the opportunity to visit the DIE KRANKEN exhibition. The exhibition "examines the significance and complicated history," of gay motorcycles clubs in Southern California "through a variety of multimedia and performative strategies." The exhibition included a bar which memorialized a gay leather motorcycle bar which was raided by the police in 1972 and a video entitled Spray of Tears in which a fighter pilot is shot down and nursed back to health by a nurse. However, in this version of the video the nurse is played by a club member in drag. After visiting the exhibition, a staff member of the One archive gave us a tour of the archives. He took us into the back room where the collection is held in hundreds of boxes. He opened one of the boxes and showed us all the varied topics held in just one box, which can include just about anything relating to LGBTQ material. He mentioned that surprisingly enough publications from his undergraduate years as the head of the queer/gay community at his university found their way into the archives. One of the most important things I learned from him was that this repository acted as a space to help collect LGBTQ material throughout the past few decades and use them to both understand LGBTQ culture and keep it within living memory, though it has often been repressed by heteronormative culture.
I learned many new things in this class and found a new appreciation for queer artists who use their art as a space to express, resist, and validate their own lives as members of the queer community, and as individuals making sense of the heteronormative world they inhabit which often invalidates and discriminates against them. One of the most interesting and resonating pieces of art that stuck out to me was the image of La Sirena and the Virgen De Guadalupe created by Professor Alma Lopez. I remember the professor presented this image to the class in the early weeks of winter quarter. The image really stuck with me ever since that first introduction, and luckily enough I encountered the image again upon my visit to the One Archives at USC. The image takes two iconic and powerful images from Mexican culture, the Virgen de Guadalupe which is an important and venerated icon within Catholicism and Mexico. According to religious text, she is the blessed Virgin Mary responsible for the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. She is a model of purity and beauty. The Sirena is another popular image in the card game known as Loteria. In this work, featured in Les Voz, Professor Lopez combines these two images into one, making both figures embrace each other in a loving, tender, and affectionate manner. The tenderness in the image refutes the traditional depiction of homosexuals and defiantly places them together expressing the beauty of love in its various forms, including homosexual relationships.
Another interesting thing I learned in class was the various social understandings of homosexual relationships throughout history. In class, Professor Lopez showed the class a video about this very subject. In the painting of a bath house, we see two men engaging in what we would nowadays consider homosexual behavior as one man hides his erect penis while the other playfully teases the other with his buttocks. The museum curator mentioned that in those days the gender of your sexual partner did not define your sexuality, but rather the gender you played while engaged in sexual activity defined your sexuality.
This class was incredbily interesting and opened up my mind to learning about other communities who struggle for inclusion within the general society.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
I liked that this class allowed us to have extra credit as well. This gave me the opportunity to go to places I wouldn't usually go to (because I didn't know they existed) such as the LA LGBT Center. I visited two centers in Hollywood before I reached the right one with the "My Life in Code" exhibit. I loved the crisp precise lines that Danielle Paris creates in her acrylic on canvas art. She uses Morse Code in pieces that interest and impact her life. One of my favorite and nostalgic pieces was her "88 MPH". The theme are the Back to the Future movies. The central part of the painting is a license plate that reads "OUTATIME" and Morse code that incidentally spells the acronym BTTF (Back to the Future). It reminded me that we are actually not out of time and can change things for the better. I felt that it unconsciously urges the audience to be active in their community by telling them that time is important, and should be wisely used.
Taking this class was a great experience. I loved the readings, the presentations and the lambda litfest the most. One thing that I will take away from the class is the new knowledge that I learned about queer art and history. I believe it is important to be aware of the historical background as well as current affairs of important things in life. The making of the web pages was fun and helped me learn more about queer artists in and out of LA. Because of this class, I have a place to visit when I want to discover artists of all kinds. I thought it was cool that some people that were already part of the website were students that I have met in other classes before. It gives me hope that one day I might be recognized as an artist as well. If I had the chance, I would take this class again and explore history and current parts of Los Angeles.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Throughout the time of this course, I have learned many different facts about the LA LGBT Civil Rights movement. I found out that the persxn who created the first lesbian conference was a UCLA Alum. I also found out that Pride was an organization before it was the parade. Every single time I take another LGBTQS course, I realize that my generation really did not come up with all these "new concepts." This exact realization happened again during this course. I felt personally confused when I read that Jeanne Cordova participated in a non-monogamous relationship when I thought that was a new relationship method. I enjoyed the readings and class discussions... as much of it I attended.
Best of luck with the rest of finals!
Thursday, March 16, 2017
In this class I've learned a greater appreciation for queerness and the depiction of this queerness in the forms of art, music, and activism. I feel like I more broadly understand what it means to be queer and with current events how we need to utilize the lessons of the past and apply them to the present for a better future. Granted, I feel like I could've learned a few more queer artists, but the content was still much appreciated. It's been a great quarter, and I look forward to all the queer art that I have yet to be exposed to LA and in my life. Thank you Professor Lopez.
Our readings and in-class discussions on queer history in Hollywood were particularly interesting, because I think that was really all about queer visibility. I remember someone in class pointed out that it's actually really sad that Hollywood stars could both be very out in certain limited spaces, but still had to "present" as heterosexual for their fans. At the same time, though, Gay LA talked a lot about how these figures were still breaking down gender barriers and those were sort of the first steps of queer visibility when "tomboys" could see a version of themselves in Marlene Dietrich, and suggestions at her sexuality were accepted as commonplace. A lot of what queer folks have been fighting for ever since has been visibility, and just as LA has been a leader in things like the fight for marriage equality, LA artists have been leaders in the fight for queer visibility. At Lambda LitFest this past Saturday, Alberto Mendoza, a founder of Honor 41, a collection of queer latinx artists and some of whose videos we saw in class, spoke on one of the panels I saw, and he said that all of what he does and his focus with Honor 41 is about creating visibility. To him, queer latino art is a way of telling all the queer latino children out there that is okay. I think LA's history of queer activism is really tied into queer art today, because that history has created the culture and space for queer visibility and for projects like Honor 41 and all of its artists to continue to create and express themselves as queer latino artists.
I think knowing the history of where you came from is really important and I learned a lot about LA's queer identity today from learning about its history of fighting for queer justice and for creating open, queer spaces that put primacy on inclusion (like Jeanne Cordova fighting to keep the GSCS an inclusive not an exclusive space).