Censorship Issues With Queer Art

In class, we discussed David Wojnarowicz’s silent film, “ A Fire In My Belly.”  David was an artist of New York around the 1980s whose work represents the under privileged people of society which was seen in “A Fire in My Belly.”   The silent film showed images of poverty, little kids outside playing with fire, people begging for money, a mouth being sown up, and the crucifix laying on the ground with ants crawling all over it.  He was homosexual and died of AIDS at a young age with some of the images seen in this film possibly hinting at the AIDS crisis.   This silent film received negative attention by the Catholic League and Congress members specifically because of the crucifix ant image.  It was removed a few years ago from the National Portrait Gallery because of the uproar it stirred with conservative religious groups who thought the film was sinful.  This goes to show that the debate over queer art is still evident and religious or conservative groups have power over censorship rather than the actual art institute in dealing with this category of art.

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Chris Ofili’s piece shown above called “Holy Virgin Mary” is just another piece up for debate.  This shows a painting of a colored women wearing a blue robe that would be seen on the Virgin Mary. The background is a yellowish orange color mocking that light one would see behind a painting of Mary. The painting uses elephant poop and pornographic photos as a medium. The elephant dung is spread across the left breast and the pornographic photos surround the “Virgin Mary” making it almost look like they are insects such as butterflies floating in the air at first glance, but looking closer one can see they are nude female body parts. This piece offended the Mayor of New York and the Catholic Church causing the Brooklyn Museum of Art to temporarily lose it’s funding showing that the control was out of the art Museum’s hands.

miss kitty

Displayed above,“Miss Kitty” was another piece that tied art and homosexuality together. It was created by Paolo Schmidlin, and showed a statue of Pope Benedict XVI dressed as a drag queen. The Pope is wearing a blond wig in the shape of a woman’s bob, very high patterned or lacy looking stockings, a women’s shawl sliding down both shoulders, underwear with girly bows on the sides, stud earrings, and a pink barrette pinning the one side of hair back. It also appears that he may be wearing makeup on his upper eyelids, and he is not wearing a shirt exposing his entire chest. His actual body appears to be a male even though his hair and what he is wearing looks female. He is also smiling and tilting his head in a flirty kind of manner.  The sculpture was forced to be removed from Milan because of protest from multiple catholic groups. One of these groups included the Catholic Anti-Defamation League which found the piece very offensive for turning a religious figure into queer. Unfortunately, attempts at keeping queer art in museums is a lot harder than one would think thanks to more control being in the hands of conservative catholic groups. Hopefully, censorship of artwork by the catholic religion will not always remain an issue for the future.

http://www.popcrunch.com/15-of-the-most-controversial-pieces-of-art/?img=116141

http://www.popcrunch.com/15-of-the-most-controversial-pieces-of-art/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/12/09/AR2010120905885.html

Love Is Not A Choice: China’s LGBT Awareness Campaign

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Since the year 1997, China had associated homosexuality with “Hooliganism,” a term used to describe a disruptive or unlawful behavior. Until 2001, China believed that homosexuality was considered to be a mental disorder.  The Chinese government decided on a “Don’t support, don’t ban, don’t promote” type of policy.  Due to the government’s lack of response on homosexuality, many Chinese homosexuals feel enticed to participate in cooperative marriages which means a gay man will marry a lesbian women.  Also, many straight women end up marrying gay men because they fear other people’s opinions which is referred to as “tongqi.”  The Chinese have somewhat changed their opinions about how they view the LGBT community thanks to the attention the United States has been getting on the government’s support on gay marriage, although they still have a long way to go.  Also, the use of social media has helped calm down the negative thoughts of China due to many campaigns and interactions on these social media sights that show more support and have more people speaking on behalf of being part of the LGBT community. This is where China’s LGBT awareness campaign comes into play.

The campaign, “Love Is Not A Choice” was a collection of ads that showed same-sex couples in the comfort of their own home with the words: “Love is not a choice. We did not choose to be homosexual. We just are. Happily, the world is big enough for all of us.” This campaign also incorporated some ads showing a heterosexual couple with the words: “ We did not choose to be heterosexual.”  This campaign was posted all over social media for Valentine’s Day weekend.  Each ad shows some sort of interaction among the couple whether it is a man fixing his partners tie, a same-sex couple holding hands, or a same-sex couple leaning on each other and smiling.  The message these ads are trying to get across is they are living a happy life with their partner.  They are normal people who deserve to live a good, happy life without being frowned upon by others. 

This campaign was a very positive campaign in support of the LGBT community which greatly differs from Epstein’s views on homosexuality.  At an early age, Epstein was introduced to homosexuals in a pedophilic way.  He kept these views that homosexuals were sick people with twisted minds.  He mentions feelings of anger and thinking differently about homosexuals.  He has this idea that homosexuality is on the rise and may make the world one very dark place full of pain. Epstein is still not sure whether he thinks homosexuals are truly attracted to the same sex or simple running away from the opposite sex with the possibility of having a traditional lifestyle with them.  He believes that homosexuals are different from the rest of the world. He says nothing would sadden him more than if any one of his sons became homosexual.  Epstein fails to recognize that love is not a choice.  He fails to respect other differences.  He fails to see these homosexuals as human beings that deserve to live a happy life the way they want to live it.

http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/08/tiptoeing-out-of-the-closet-the-history-and-future-of-lgbt-rights-in-china/278869/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/14/china-lgbt-rights_n_6681220.html

http://www.advocate.com/world/2015/02/15/valentines-day-ad-campaign-encourages-chinese-lgbts-come-out

http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/08/tiptoeing-out-of-the-closet-the-history-and-future-of-lgbt-rights-in-china/278869/

Overture

Imagine having to leave home to get away from the thoughts and opinions of those surrounding you. Imagine feeling so alone. Imagine having to live your life through a secret. Overture is a short film that is about a transgender girl who starts college and locks away her past from everyone. In the beginning of the film Samantha, the main character, refuses to allow people into her life. This all changes when she meets Will and Jeff. Around Will she. Jeff is her gay friend and the only person that knows Samantha’s secret. She kept it hidden from everyone else fearing what others would think. Samantha’s roommate was the one to uncover the truth. Her roommate told all of Samantha’s friends and Will. This was the turning point in the film. Until this point, she felt like she was complete. After the word was out, she let that take control of her life. The film shows her sad and alone, it is like she is afraid to leave the comfort of her room and face people. Then, the first encounter between her and Will since finding out the truth, ends rather harsh. Through all the pain, she learned some valuable lessons like to embrace being transgender and force others to really see her. She learned to face reality with pride.

This short film was different from Casey Plett’s writing discussing her life as a transgender. Casey wrote in a very casual tone and, at times, made it even humorous or light hearted and straight forward where Overture was mainly a sad film. The entire film was about Samantha hiding the fact that she was transgender instead of embracing it. Casey seemed more open to allowing others to understand what she was going through. She was willing to open up to her roommate, friends, and girlfriend and they turned out to be very supportive. The people that mattered most, respected her and liked her for being herself. Samantha did not want to open up to anyone; she tried to stay closed off and hide any evidence of her previous life. When others did finally find out, they were angry with her for keeping it from them. They also looked at her differently. In ways, these pieces can be very similar, though. Both are about a young adult who now identifies as a female. Both pieces show how others do not understand transgender people. They struggled with coming to terms with being transgender and how others react to that. These pieces both show their struggle with dating. Casey writes a piece about the guy she met at the bar showing she was afraid to pursue him. Samantha was hesitant towards Will, at first, and even after getting to know him, refused to reveal the truth. I believe Casey and Samantha came to an understanding about themselves, as well. There was a special moment for Casey when she decided to refer to herself as a female, and there was a similar moment for Samantha at the end of the film, when she realized she should stand proud and stay true to herself.

I think this film did a decent job of showing how challenging it is for transgender people to feel accepted. I think it also goes to show that the people who truly care about you, do not care what you identify as; they just want you to be happy. I do think the film could have been a little more realistic of the hardships a transgender college student would face. To me, it did not seem like the film took place at a college, and the way the characters acted did not match up with how I would assume a college student would act.