Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week 10 Reflection

Week 10 Reflection

Throughout the class, I have been able to engage with Queer arts and culture through a more historical lens, containing a heavily historically contextualized approach to the art that was lectured upon in class. Though I’ve come to formulate some knowledge on the topic of queer arts and culture in Los Angeles that I hold and through my experiences in Los Angeles, I know that taking this class was definitely a step in the right direction considering that this topic had already piqued my interest due to my past student organization involvements with the on campus LGBTQ community and my internship— which happens to touch on LGBTQ arts, culture, and history quite a lot. 
One take away from this course is the invaluable connections and informal conversations that were sustained and the surrounded the topics of queer art. Witnessing my fellow classmate’s discussion and interaction with the lectures and the artists presented was something raw and genuinely engaged me. It got the the gears in my head churning whenever someone’s interpretation of a piece differed from mine, and it made me wander the endless amount of projected meaning on the pieces presented.

Another part of the class that really stuck out to me was the book “When We Were Outlaws” by Jeanne Cordova. If I recall correctly, when I first started off at my internship, I was in charge of helping screen a documentary that she was featured in. She was among the people in the audience. Several people were excited that she was there. At that time, I hadn’t known who she was or the significance that she carried since I was a younger queer with a limited grasp of Los Angeles LGBTQ  history, so being able to read her memoir became all the more significant to me, especially considering her recent death in January 2016. Reading that memoir became all the more personal to me and really led to a lot of reflection revolving the power and importance of storytelling and lived experiences.

Week 9: Lambda LitFest

Week 9: Lambda LitFest

On Saturday March 11 I was able to attend a panel and the UnCabaret show that were a part of the all-day first annual Lambda LitFest. The Lambda LitFest was put on by the Lambda Literary Foundation, one of the leading Los Angeles based organizations that is heavily involved in the world of LGBTQIA literary arts. (Side note: one of my favorite Canadian authors, Vivek Shraya, was just recently selected as a Lambda Literary Finalist! So I’m pretty excited about that. You can check out her work here.)
The panel that I attended at the Lambda Literary Festival was titled "Queer Truth: Nonfiction & Journalism in a Post-Truth World" and was comprised of 6 panelists, and was facilitated by Karen Tongson. Through this panel I was able to listen to each of the panelists speak on their lived experiences, and share their views on what truth and knowledge are, and debate whether these two are the same thing. One panelist argued that knowledge and truth are the same thing and stated how they are merely synonymous. Various other individuals agreed with her, however, one panelist in particular, ____, spoke on how knowledge and truth aren’t synonymous, but rather, are woven with one another. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but they also aren’t one and the same. ___ spoke on how lived experiences are a valid form of knowledge production, and how everyone’s lived experiences can vary. It is as a result of this that knowledge can differ from person to person. They argued that objectivity does not exist, yet the media perpetuates this false idea of a depoliticized truth. The banter back and forth on the stage was very entertaining, and I very much appreciated the thought provoking questions at the end of the panel.
After the last panel of the day, I had a few hours to kill since UnCabaret was at 7pm, so I decided to walk around the City to find some food. My feet ended  up at the local Fat Burger, and while there I was able to decompress and make full sense of what I had experienced back in the panel. The lively banter was great, but coming back to the notes that I took for the panel was really helpful. This break was needed as I had a long day ahead of me. 
Later on, I ended up catching some of UnCabaret. I hadn’t previously attended an UnCabaret so I was looking forward to attending this one. This type of comedy was something I hadn’t quite experienced before. I appreciated some jokes, but others I wasn’t as well learned to really appreciate— thought the typical jokes about LGBTQ things were quite relatable and so admittedly I did chortle at a few of those. The live band on stage was a nice touch to the comedy and I very much appreciated the MC’s attire as it fit the extravagant setting that UnCabaret was trying to capture on stage. 

Lambda LitFest, from what I had sat in one, was enjoyable and I look forward to seeing this annual programming once more. Since I will be a UCLA Alumni next year, I’m hoping to enjoy more of the programming since I won’t have to worry about exams, and staying on top of my classes— as I feel that these responsibilities really kept me from enjoying the weeklong programming of the Lambda LitFest. Though despite this, I’d like to say that the Saturday panels were a success and I enjoyed my attendance.

Attached is a picture of me with one of the attendees, who also happens to be affiliated with one of the organizations that co-sponsored the event. 

Week 8: Fire in My Belly Reflection

Week 8: Fire in My Belly Reflection

During this week, I remember having discussed the controversial nature of the Fire iIn My Belly video. The museum that was hosting Fire In My Belly was heavily critiqued by a conservative christian group that sought to censor it. This took place in the time when Ronald Reagan was in power and when there was much suppression of non-normative forms of expression and being were commonplace. Keep in mind, that Reagan was also complicit in the mass waves of deaths that wiped out a generation of queer and transgender artists. Some people, such as myself, would call this a queer genocide given how the current administration was purposefully neglecting the AIDS crisis. 
The funny thing about Fire In My Belly, is that the reaction by the christian right reminded me of an episode from The L Word, when Bette Porter, the fictitious California Arts Center (which is rumored to be an allusion to the Hammer Museum according to queer folk-lore) was attempting to bring in a piece of art titled “Provocations,” which uses sexual and religious elements to provoke the viewer (hence the name.) The art piece was met with great contestation at het California Arts Center, similar to the way that the christian right received Fire In My Belly.

Now, the actual Fire in My Belly Video was actually pretty provocative since it blended in sacred elements of the christian/catholic religion along with sexual acts (such as masturbation.) One sees the cross lying on a dirt floor, engulfed in black ants, which some view as an abomination and desecration of the holy object. What’s funny is that this piece reminds me so much of my catholic school upbringing. I was taught to not idolize objects, and that objects are only meant to be used as objects for inspiration, however, apparently, the christian right who sought to prohibit the showing of this piece and overlooked the lesson I’d learn while growing up. Objects are simply objects, and shouldn’t be objectified to the degree that merits lobbying against the expression of an artist. The art piece incites no act of violence nor does it harm anyone.

Week 6: When We Were Outlaws

Week 6: When We Were Outlaws

For When we were Outlaws, I would like to focus this blog post on the parts of the book that really stood out for me. Having been both a Gender Studies and Political Science student major, I was slightly personally invested to some of the historical happenings that occurred during the timeline of Jeanne Cordova’s memoir. Additionally, I feel personally invested in this book because I once helped run tech for an event where she was among the audience (if I recall correctly.) I didn’t know much about her other than that her activism and her memoir were well known in the community. At the time I had limited knowledge on the significance of this seeing as this took place about a year ago.
To start with, though I was only a few chapters in, my interest was piqued as soon as I heard about Angela Davis’ involvement in the women’s activism back then. What struck me as interesting in particular was the fact that she didn’t equate the personal to the political. When she was asked by Cordova about whether or not she was gay, Davids quickly evaded it and basically stated that that had no place in her activism essentially. I also found it interesting how the conception of being outside of the closet was viewed as more so of a political statement in comparison to the way that I view being out of the closet. I feel like  contemporary conception of “being out of the closet” has become less of a radical thing considering how homonormative and assimilated the LGBTQ rights movement has become. This chapter was quite thought provoking.
Additionally, another chapter that struck me as interesting was the relationship that Cordova had with BeJo and her sexually liberated way of existing. Though BeJo disliked that Cordova wasn’t monogamous, she tolerated it because she valued her. This made me reflect on how now in the LGBTQ rights movement, or at least in the homonormative discourse that’s been presented, people have gotten more reserved about sexually liberated practices. Though I understand that people who have stood by respectability politics have existed even back in Cordova’s time, from my observations, I’ve noticed that LGBTQ people have sought to replicate heterosexuality and the normative sexual behaviors that have been instilled in society. Due to my involvement in part of the UCLA LGBTQ community, I’ve come to observe this and reflect on where the community is headed. 

Aside from the reflection that was brought forth from chapter two (the Angela Davis Chapter) and chapter three (the one where the relationship to BeJo is talked about) I loved how chapter four elucidates Cordova’s relationship to her father figure and how that shaped her  activism and her beliefs, while also being conflicted about his tough upbringing and conservative views on sexuality. I too also enjoyed how later on the politics of the backend of non-profits was demonstrated through the wronging of Cordova by none other than her mentor. 

Week 5: Otro Corazon

Week 5: Otro Corazon

For my week 5 assignment, I was tasked with writing a reflective blog post about the Otro Corazon 2 conference that was hosted by the UCLA LGBT Studies department.  I sat in on a panel that revolved around rasqucuachismo. There were several speakers speaking on the topic of thi  art form brought on by the latino experience, in particular that of chicanos. Drawn to the raw nature of this form of art, and noticing how this tied directly to the celebration of Tomas Ybarra-Fausto’s life and his book on Rasquachismo, I listened intently on the conversation revolving this form. What drew me to the panel was the discussion from the audience and how they began to discuss what rasquachismo signified to them. One such audience member claimed claimed that “yo soy rasquachismo!” meaning that he embodies and is empowered by the rascquachista art form. Why is important to note is the history of the word. I learned that it was nahuatl and had a negative meaning in Mexico since it alluded to people who were of a lower class.

as a result of this panel, I found my interest piqued by the art form and wished I had the book the Ybarra-Fausto had published on the topic. As someone who is a first generation latinx who was born to a working class tumultuous family, I found myself reflecting on how often people from my background are made to feel inferior, and how often we are pushed to the margins of society. It made me think of the systemic disempowerment present in communities of color, and reflecting on rasquachismo made me realize that this was a way of owning that narrative. It was a way for people like me to express themselves by subversively pushing the normalized envelope on what is deemed acceptable. Truly the panel at the Otro Corazon 2 conference is one that I’ll continue to reflect upon. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

ONE Archives @ USC

I visited the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC with John and left a more educated queer woman complete with two new books on sexuality-- it was great! 



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!





When we finished, Jim came back to us and gave us a tour of the entire place! He started with the history, including the wall of ONE's gay magazine covers throughout their history and the Lesbian Legacy Wall, featuring the professors work with a Mexican queer magazine! It was all truly inspiring, especially considering we were up and close with material that told such person stories. Jim talked to us about letters that the zines received from their readership thanking them for a community that made them for safe and comfortable. Jim even chimed in with his own story, sharing with us the fact that he has consistently been the first openly gay guy in all his professional environments: "it makes me feel like I have made me own contribution to the movement."

Jim took us through ONE's entire history, complete with an inside look into the content they curate including the back room full of queer magazines from all over the world. On our way back to the front of the building, Jim picked up a copy of a book they are adding to their collection: Jeanne Cordova's Outlaws, including some of her other publications including the Lesbian Tide-- what a coincidence that we had just read that book!







Final Post

I had never taken an art class before. Not in high school, not in college. Although, I would actually consider all my English classes art classes considering the written word is my medium as an artist and I have had tons of fun creating narratives that share my ideas and perspective with others. But this class, over the past 11 weeks, it has opened and even closed a door in the world of communication for me. I don't mean this in a bad way, not at all. I just mean that I was so captivated during class meetings so much that it was hard to look back at anything that wasn't so visually enticing. For instance, the bath-house print shown in class from the Smithsonian told a story that I am already familiar with because of the queer history books and lectures I have attended. But actually seeing it in practice was different. It was easier for me to imagine myself in the time and context, helping me understand better. It's truly beautiful. 
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

Extra Credit: One Archives @ USC

               On March 11th I visited the One Archives at the USC libraries. The One archives feature the world's largest collection of LGBTQ material that is primarily in national scope but also includes a special focus on LGBTQ history within the Los Angeles region. It includes a wide array of materials such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, textiles, posters, over 4,000 paintings and drawings, and over 14,000 films and videos. The mission statement of the One Archive is to "collect, preserve, and make accessible LGBTQ historical materials while promoting new scholarship on and public awareness of queer histories." Upon visiting the archive, I found many pieces that were relevant to our class. On the walls of the archive there many editions and publications of the Lesbian Tide, where Jeanne Cordova served as the editor and publishers of what became the newspaper of record for lesbians and feminists of the 70's and 80's. I also saw a copy of Les Voz, a popular Lesbo-Feminista editorial in Mexico City, which featured an image of La Sirena and the La Virgen de Guadalupe. In addition, I also saw that someone had recently donated a copy of When We Were Outlaws by Jeanne Cordova.
             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.

Week 10 Blog Post

After engaging with LBTQ history and art for the past 10 weeks I have gained a new and more nuanced understanding of the LGBTQ community, and their struggle against discrimination and their call for inclusion and respect within the larger society. In class, we have discussed many topics including the history of Los Angeles as on the forefronts and epicenters of the LGBTQ community/culture and their struggle for inclusion. Starting from the sexual practices of Native Americans, discussed in Gay L.A.,  to the liberation movements of the 60's and the 70's, and the devastation caused by the Aids epidemic in Los Angeles. We have discussed many artists, some who I never considered queer, such as Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and even Juan Gabriel the famous Mexican singer. In addition, this course has prompted me to visit the various museums and events that focus on the cultural production of the LGBTQ community. Just in this quarter alone I have visited the Petersen Automotive Museum which featured Keith Haring's work, visited the ONE archives at the USC libraries, and Lambda Literary Festival.
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

My Life in Code

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. 



Finals - Blog Post

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. 

Final Post

As winter quarter comes to an end, I’ve had some time to reflect on the classes I have taken over the past couple months. This course in queer arts has been the most intimate and engaging class I have taken thus far at UCLA and there were so many different facets to it that added to its success. If I had to choose my favorite aspect of the class, it would have to be the projects that we recently presented. I haven’t been assigned a project in so long that I actually enjoyed doing and this assignment gave me the opportunity to study a queer artist in Los Angeles to learn about them and their work. Aside from the project, another great aspect of the class was the the participation during lecture. Queer arts is such a stimulating topic, and everyone in the class had such amazing perspectives and experiences to offer and share. It was awesome to collaborate with people in the class who really made everyone feel comfortable to speak up regardless of their background or knowledge of the queer community. All in all, I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take this course as I learned so many valuable lessons and tools that I will take with me into my future.

final blog post


This course was completely different from any other course I have taken here at UCLA. For one, it is the first LGBTQ course I have taken and one of the first courses that explores artists’ queer identities as an integral part of their work and motivations. There have been many other classes in the Sociology and Chicanx Studies departments where I have to focus on certain themes other than queer narratives so I’m very thankful that I was able to explore this identity more within this class. One thing that struck me was how little I know of LGBTQ history in the US. Often times, I tend to focus on queer identities and queer acceptance transnationally in my native country. However, I’m noting now that my central focus on queering indigeneity left me with little knowledge (other than my own lived experiences) of queer obstacles in the US and even on a local level in LA. I had not known much about he history of West Hollywood and how it became a hub for queer folx – mostly because I don’t really spend my leisure time in the area, but also because its untampered history is not something that is easily accessible to the public. Overall, I truly enjoyed the conversations we had in this class and the final project which made us critically seek out talented queer artists that I'm sure our community will enjoy.

Final Blog Post

I have never taken an art course before, other than art history, or an LGBTQ course so I very much enjoyed looking into a multitude of contemporary artists and seeing the wide range of works in the Los Angeles area and beyond. I felt that the multifaceted approach of focusing on a single artist of our own, reading from a variety of texts and attending events gave the course a well-rounded feel that made learning extremely enjoyable. If I were to pick a favorite text it would probably be Cruising Utopia purely because I felt like it challenged me to understand and think in different ways about the future of progressive issues. I actually found myself looking up phrases or concepts to better understand them in the context of the book. Beyond that I learned this paradoxical approach to bringing the future to the present and feel that it could be applied to so many issues which made it fascinating and with other literature to back it up it was well researched. Without this course I wouldn't have thought, or perhaps heard of, LITFEST or Otro Corazón so I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend both and have experienced those.  

Final Blog Post

I learned a lot about LGBTQ history in this course. Gay L.A. was an informative piece of text regarding the history of the LGBTQ movement surrounding the city of Los Angeles. Reading the book made me reflect on how far LBGTQ rights have come and that the spaces that we carve out today are inherited from the legacies of those in the past. The fight for queer liberation is a continual struggle. It was inspiring to read Jeanne Cordova's story and to see the similarities and differences in that the queer community faces from then up to the present. One thing that I found really interesting was that UCLA actually held one of the first national lesbian conferences on its campus. I was also really interested in learning about the first queer church being established in LA: the Metropolitan Community Church. I actually did some research about it on my own and I was really surprised to find out that MCC has been able to establish churches in different continents and now has a global presence. In relation to queer arts, I think I have a better understanding of how to read between the lines when analyzing art work since queer arts had a history of being censored. I have definitely gained more interest in art after taking this course.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Final Blog Post

It has been a complete joy to be a part of this course. It’s been a great and focused look at queer art and artists in and out of LA. I learned a lot from this class, from Photoshop skills and html code, to Julia Pastrana, to Alex Donis, to Tomás Ybarra-Frausto. I was most struck by the lesson on the exhibit “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture”. I didn’t know about this exhibit before the class, and I was very taken and inspired by this exhibit. It was amazing to see so many queer artists exhibited at once, highlighting profoundly the theme of queerness so radically in visual art. It was amazing to be able to witness the curators’ talks and takes on the artworks themselves. It was interesting to see David Wojnarowicz’s video installation of “A Fire in My Belly”, a video experiment which was a chaotic visual experimental take on the AIDS crisis and the intersections of oppression in different fields of identity. This work has remained on my mind because I’m still figuring out my take on the piece, as I find it to be very problematic and colonialist.
I was also really moved and taken by Prof. Lopez’s own works. I really loved listening to the lecture on the poster that she created for the Marcha Lésbica. I didn’t know about the story of the viceroy butterfly and its migration from Mexico to the north. I loved the use of the viceroy butterfly to represent both Mexican identity and queer identity.

Finally, I want to give a quick mention to the Otro Corazón conference. This conference, which was so extremely beautiful and moving, will always stay with me. I got to learn of the incredible works and life of Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, and all that he has done for the Chicana/o/x movement and political history. I had the great privilege of learning of so many amazing artists, political activists, and academics who do incredible work on the intersections of Chicana/o/x identity and queer identity.

Final Blog Post

Hi Everyone,

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!

Riy

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Week 10 Blogpost

Hello Everyone! One thing that I've learned and have found interesting this quarter has been learning about the City of Los Angeles. I loved this city before I started the class, and granted that was one of the reasons I decided to take the class, but after reading the book in this class I feel much more connected with this city and so much more aware of what it offered and continue to offer the LGBTQ community. One thing in particular was the founding of the Gay and Lesbian Services Center and the quarrels that ensued from the feminist minority. I find it very interesting to just see how far we as a culture have come and how much more inviting we are compared to what we were in the 1950s and 80s, but also how unaccepting some people in the population still are.
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.

Week 10: Final Post

In this course, I've learned how LA has been a leader in queer activism, including in activism through art, and how activists and artists in LA continue to be leaders for queer justice and representation. I remember when I first enrolled in the class thinking how specific the course title was. Queer Art, maybe; Art in LA, sure; but Queer Art in LA seemed to be asking for too much. I was wrong. I really appreciate that we took both a historic look at LA as a pioneer of gay rights, from its Hollywood gay haydays to the Black Cat protests and the struggle to first build the Gay Community Service Center and then the struggle to keep it alive but that we then also continuously returned to contemporary queer LA artists.

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).

Final Post.

This course has taught me about various aspects of the historian practices of the gay community in the Los Angeles. Not only have places in the Los Angeles areas been highlighted though the texts we have read, but have been constantly validated in the works that we have seen in class. In addition, we’ve seen how Los Angeles has been a melting pot of different cultures and practices. Therefore, it is only fitting that the art that has come out of culturally specific communities be forms of resistance and calls to action against political and social oppression. Community activism has been so pivotal to art and expression during times of injustice. For examples the political posters we examined in class are visual efforts to communicate the feelings of marginalized communities. However, as the course has progressed we’ve seen that activism does not only include acts done by a large community. A lot of the artists we have chosen incorporate elements of resistance and advocacy into their works. In addition, the books we have read have talked about how the actions of one person in the gay community can have a great effect to the artistic community as a whole. I think that art is so important to the gay community because it gives a very visible and physical attachment to a community that is often swept under the rug and is unfortunately plagued with issues of health that need real attention. 
For example, in regards to the AIDS epidemic, having a visual representation gave a symbol to a health issue that needed to be address in the community. Associating the disease with art solidifies it in peoples minds and makes it a much more powerful issue to team up with. In addition, I think art provides a way for those in the LGBT+ community to document their own history. Museums and archival work is often an environment that silences histories and sterilizes reality. Art however, acts as a way to reject those “white” spaces and create identity and physical things with meanings that can have longevity. Spaces dedicated to art and expression, whether they be museums intended for people of color or murals for anyone are spaces where a narrative can be created and honored and I am very lucky to have been able to study that in this class.