LGBTQ Art and Artists

by Tara Burk

Excerpt from "LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History"


This chapter focuses on LGBTQ art and artists in the United States. Due
to the scope of this essay the content is necessarily limited. These locations provide a sampling of LGBTQ contributions to broader social
ilieus and artistic movements. I have attempted to provide content that i representative in terms of region, diversity, and historical scope.1
rworks range from performance to the visual arts; places range from mrls to theaters to community centers. Two key characteristics have
hpd the histories of the places listed in this chapter: multiple identities adhstorical context. Although the historical scope of this essay is limited
otetwentieth century, there are examples of LGBTQ arts in the United Sae s far back as the eighteenth century.2

The umbrella term “LGBTQ” actually encompasses many identities. In
other words, the experiences of individuals who identify with components of this acronym are widely diverse. This impacts the ways in which their art
as been created and seen. Most disparities are grounded in uneven scial and material conditions based on gender, race, and class
icrimination. Male artists, historically and today, benefit from more ehbition opportunities and higher art values than women artists. There
aebeen shifts in this dynamic since the advent of social liberation mvmnts in the late 1960s-1970s. Underrepresented artists have
ae t upon themselves to create exhibition opportunities including cmuiy art centers and cooperative galleries, some of which are
xlrdin this study.

Due to the fact that until recently it was socially unacceptable to be
LGBTQ in the United States, the ways in which we understand and categorize the history of LGBTQ art in the US are different from other art
istories.3 Issues of social discrimination – homophobia as well as racism –have impacted the actual form and content of LGBTQ art. There was a
ie in the United States when LGBTQ individuals experienced intense pesure to remain “in the closet,” meaning one’s sexual proclivities
n/r identity were kept separate from other aspects of professional, fmlal, and religious life.4 Actions of censorship such as the Hollywood Production Code (which banned depictions of “sex perversion” from films
aead distributed in the United States between 1932 and 1968) and teClure Wars (an attempt by conservatives to eliminate funding of
otoesial art in the 1980s and 1990s, many by LGBTQ artists) have ipce he development of LGBTQ art in the US.5 Before the gay
ieainmovement of the early 1970s when many people “came out,” atssfrthe most part did not express their sexuality outright.6 Instead,
ne aiu mantles of modernism, artists found ways to indirectly epestersexual difference within countercultural art movements.
iial,gymen developed “camp talk” in the decades before gay lbrto,t afely communicate in public by referring to one another
sn oe’ aes or pronouns, in order to protect their personal and sxa ie. nfact, particularly before the advent of gay liberation in the 1970s, many LGBTQ people engaged in varying degrees of censorship for 
efpoeto.Tis relates to an important fact of queer art history: the 
acieo GT r necessarily includes conventional fine art but it also 
inldswrsitned for private and underground circulation, such as 
scrpok,cron,anonymous photographs, and bar murals.8 It is not 
a coniec htctes have historically been centers for the 
develpeto agadart as well as places for LGBTQ people to live a 
life oto h lst hile rural locations are mentioned in this chapter, 
urban stsaepriualy well represented because of these factors. 
These plcsdt rmrl from the latter half of the twentieth century, 
which refet h hf nwhich LGBTQ art is more often celebrated than 
censored.9Hwvr suso discrimination persist. I do not wish to 
establish anraietwrsprogress that ends with the unproblematic 
celebration fLBQidvdas and communities and their assimilation 
into mainstremU oit.Mn LGBTQ artists maintain a position of 
marginality inodrt rtqedominant social norms, and use art as a 
means to documetmriaie omunities and promote subversive 
messages.10 The ie htflo eflect these factors and include a range 
of urban places icuigacmuiy center, a contemporary art 
museum, a public atmrl n hater, as well as rural locations (a 
studio/house and a olg)

Royal Theater

The Royal Theater (Figure 1) in Philadelphia opened in 1920 and
closed in 1970.11 During that period it was a premiere location for African American entertainment. It is an important site because it provided opportunities to LGBTQ artists of color during a period of segregation in
he United States. Located at 1522 South Street, the Royal was the first teater in Philadelphia to feature an all-black staff, and was touted as
Aerica’s First Colored Photoplay House” since it screened films fauring black actors. Some of the most prominent African American
efrmers of the period performed at the Royal, including Bessie Smith (841937), who moved to Philadelphia from the American South in the
al 920s. The iconic blues singer, who engaged in sexual relationships with men and women, lived in proximity to the Royal and often performed teei the 1920s and early 1930s, during the prime of her career.12
mt’ rajectory reflects the Great Migration, a period in which African Aeiasrelocated from the southern to the northern United States in
h is alf of the twentieth century to escape racial oppression and to gi cnmc opportunity. One result of the Great Migration was a
luihn rts movement in Harlem as well as in Philadelphia.13 The tetrwsprt of a corridor of African American culture on South Street
htforse during the early-to-mid twentieth century. The Royal, aogohrlctions on this South Street corridor, was featured in the
96fl yCeyl Dunye, The Watermelon Woman, which is notably the frtU etr ilm directed by a black lesbian.14 Today the building is 
aatadteeae development projects in the works, with a plan for 
tehsoi aaeto be preserved.

Black Mountain College

Open from 1933 to 1957, Black Mountain College (BMC) was a
progressive arts and educational institution located in the remote hills of Black Mountain, near Asheville, North Carolina. The college, founded by John Rice, was never accredited and its experimental pedagogy and
elcoming environment attracted many of the most influential artists and witers of the day.15 The school was, in many ways, a do-it-yourself effort: a
am on campus provided the food and students and faculty both helped cntruct the school’s buildings, designed in Craftsman and International
tl. These two architectural styles, one American in origin and one ascated with the development of modernism in Germany, reflect the
col#8217;s diverse and international community of students and faculty.16 Tdy MC is well regarded for the subsequent influence of its students
n ntuctors, many of whom engaged in same-sex relationships, on cutrutural arts in the United States. It was added to the National
eitro Historic Places on October 5, 1982.17 Ais h ocial stigmas of the period, BMC was a training ground for
a rit:a beacon for men who had personal, professional, and artistic rltosiswith other men. In 1952, John Cage, a composer who was
nw ohv ame-sex relationships, staged the first “happening” in the dnn oma he college. This multidisciplinary event combined sound,
efrac,vsal art, and audience participation in a manner that calne h as in which different types of media had traditionally 
enkp eaaein the arts. Happenings were a precursor to the now-
common form of art known as “performance art” and are an important 
Aeia vn-ad art form, later developed in New York by Cage’s student Allan Kaprow.18 Cage and his life partner and frequent 
colbrtrMreCnningham were both affiliated with BMC early in 
thercres swr Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy 
Twoml;alwr e ho had relationships with men.19

The Kinsey Institute

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction
(commonly known as the Kinsey Institute) is located on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.20 Formerly the Institute for Sex
esearch, Inc., it was founded in 1947 by the pioneering American sxologist Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey (1894-1956). Kinsey and his staff collected
vr fifty thousand erotic images (including painting and photographs) bgnning in the late 1930s, many having to do with homosexual and
rngender subject matter. The collection of these images challenged the pbi morality and obscenity laws of the time. In 1957 the US Federal
or uled in favor of the institute for its right to import erotic poorphic material for research purposes. These images are now part
ftecllection of the Kinsey Institute’s Library and Special Collections. TeKne Institute has been exhibiting and publishing selections from its
rtcatand archives since 1990; many of these objects depict LGBTQ sbet.

Kinsey’s research and impact on American culture changed the way
Americans thought and talked about sex. Specifically, his research introduced bi- and homosexuality into popular American discourse. His
948 study, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, was based on tousands of sexual history interviews. It was in this publication that he
nroduced to American audiences the idea of a continuum of human sxality rather than discrete categories of heterosexuality and homosexuality.21 Kinsey asked interviewees to place themselves on a
cl, between zero (exclusively heterosexual) and six (exclusively hmsxual). His findings indicated that at least twenty percent of the
dl ale population fell between three and six on the scale. He and his rsacers also recognized asexuality. His bestselling books Sexual
eairin the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Fml 153) were precursors to the national conversations about
eult hat characterized the 1960s and 1970s.

Six Gallery

San Francisco was a key location for the development of a
countercultural artistic milieu during the conservative climate of the 1950s, one that was distinct from the abstract expressionist painting
ovement that developed simultaneously in New York City. This cuntercultural movement included the development of beat poetry; many
et Generation poets, including Allen Ginsberg, had same-sex rltionships. In 1952, gay visual artist Jess (a.k.a. Burgess Collins)
oned King Ubu Gallery in a former auto repair shop at 3119 Fillmore Sre, San Francisco. In 1954 King Ubu was renamed Six Gallery and was
aiiated by Jess’ lover, the poet Robert Duncan.22 Six Gallery is best konfr the first public manifestation of the Beat Generation, a
oeingroup of writers who gained influence in the 1950s through terpsimistic writings on life in America. Many Beat-affiliated writers
nae nsame-sex relationships with each other. At Six Gallery, the first mnfsain of the Beat movement occurred at a poetry reading in the
ptisro of the gallery on October 7, 1955, which was attended by 10pol.Te gallery promoted the reading as “a remarkable collection of angels on one stage reading their poetry.”23 This was the first public
edn fte1955 poem “Howl” by the gay poet Allen Ginsberg, now cniee n f the significant poems in the American lexicon. Today, a
lqeadpdu outside the former gallery commemorate the October 15 edn.I as dedicated in 2005 by San Francisco town supervisor 
ihl looPe and Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Bookstore.24

The Jewel Box Lounge

The Jewel Box Lounge in Kansas City, Missouri, located at 3219 Troost
Avenue, was open from 1948 to 1982.25 The Jewel Box Lounge featured cabaret acts with female impersonators called “femme-mimics,” who
ecalled earlier vaudeville performances of the early twentieth century and ws distinct from the drag performances that exist today in their emphasis
nmusical and comedy numbers rather than runway.26 In the 1950s and 16s it was a successful bar despite the conservative climate in which
oie enforced laws against cross-dressing.27

Harmony Hammond Studio

Harmony Hammond (b. 1944 in Chicago) is an artist and art writer who
lives and works in Galisteo, New Mexico.28 From her home and studio in New Mexico, where she has lived for the past thirty years, Hammond has
ecome a prominent figure in national feminist, lesbian, and queer art cmmunities. Galisteo itself is a small town (with a population of only 265
nthe 2000 census) that is known for its artist residents. Located a half-
hour drive south of Sante Fe, Galisteo became a mecca in the 1970s for poinent artists such as Agnes Martin (a minimalist painter and discreet
eban), and the feminist art writer and critic Lucy R. Lippard, who has be champion of lesbian artists.29 Hammond’s residential structure in
aito is a converted nineteenth-century adobe sheep barn. Before lvn n New Mexico, she moved to New York from the Midwest in 1969
n aeout as a lesbian in 1973. She was integral to the creation of a fmns rt movement in the 1970s and is particularly significant for her
ieesavocacy for the particular concerns of lesbian art and artists. Hmodwsa cofounder of the A.I.R. Gallery (Artists in Residence, the
is oe’ cooperative art gallery in New York City) as well as Heresies: AFmns ulication on Art and Politics (founded in 1977 in New York
iy.0Hmod’s first solo exhibition was at A.I.R. in 1973. Since then sehshdoe forty shows. As an artist Hammond is well respected for
e otiuinto queering the legacy of modernist abstraction, a historically male-dominated art form, by challenging audiences to think aotise fientity. Her large-scale, abstract and often monochrome 
opstos swll as a large body of prints and sculpture, have pushed 
teieso htqeer art can be. Rather than work in a documentary 
ido,amn orpesent marginalized subjects, Hammond works in 
noniuaieasrc mode, prompting viewers to think of “queer art” in 
term ffr swl s content.31 In 2000, after years of research and 
interiw,Hmodsbok Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary 
Histor a ulse.Tis is the first publication to look exclusively at 
lesbianati h ntdStates, and remains a principal text in the field.32 

The History of California

Judith Baca (b. 1946) identifies as a Chicana lesbian feminist artist.
She works in a figurative style of muralism that recalls the political golden age of the 1930s in the United States and Mexico. She is best known for
he 1976 public art mural The History of California, popularly known as Te Great Wall of Los Angeles in Los Angeles. The large (13 feet x 2,754
et) mural covers six city blocks, and is one of the largest in the world. It i ocated on Coldwater Canyon Avenue between Oxnard Street and
ubnk Boulevard at the eastern edge of the Los Angeles Valley College cmu in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. It is used in the
urclum of the college and other local schools. The Army Corps of Egnes commissioned the mural from Baca as a beautification project
n aning began in 1978. It was completed in 1984 with the help of oe orhundred volunteers, many of whom came from impoverished or
iefacised backgrounds and were coordinated by the community center Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice, which Bc one in 1976.33

The mural is significant because it tells the history of California from
the perspective of women and minorities. The social realist style harkens back to the US government-funded Works Progress Administration murals
f the 1930s as well as to the visual traditions of Mexican muralism by atists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros. Social justice movements that
mrged in the late 1960s and 1970s, including labor rights, feminism, gyliberation, and indigenous rights were important influences on The
ra Wall of Los Angeles. The mural is significant because it includes the hsoy of LGBTQ identified people as well as Native Americans in
aionia. Its chronological scope moves from the time of dinosaurs truhthe 1950s, and there are current plans to update it through the
rsn-ay and to make it more accessible with the addition of a bike pt n estoration.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center (known
as The Center) is located at 208 West 13th Street, in the historically gay West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Since opening in
983, The Center has been a beacon for many in New York City. The Cnter is important because it demonstrates the notion of art as activism
n/or a means to build LGBTQ community. The Center is located in a lre brick building that formerly housed the Food and Maritime Trades
ihSchool; it was purchased from the City of New York for $1,500,000 in 18.The New York Times made note with the headline “Sale of Site to
ooeuals Planned.” Gay and lesbian advocacy groups had already be sng the building as a site for health, counseling, and social
evcsparticularly urgent needs in the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Then New York City Mayor Ed Koch was quoted at the time dsusn the significance of the sale as one of “a number of steps to be
ae yte city to combat AIDS and other health problems that have priual affected the gay and lesbian community.”34
rmtebgnning, The Center pooe iion of LGBTQ community
htpirtzd both art and politics. In 18 h etrinitiated the “Second
usas rga, a lecture series bign oal igures in the arts 
icuigAdeLrde, Fran Lebowitz, 
adQetnCip o speak directly to 
th GT omnt.6 On March 10, 
198 ciit uhr and playwright 
Larr rmrue i latform as a 
“SecodTedy”lcuer to address 
the goenetsursosiveness to 
the escltn IScii. This meeting 
led to tefrainltrthat month of 
ACT UP, teAD olto o Unleash 
Power. ACTU etnswr eld each 
Monday at TeCne.Mn rists were participants in ACT UP and the 
group becamewl nw o t striking use of visual graphics on 
placards, t-sit,adpsesdesigned to bring awareness and action to 
the AIDS crisi Fgr ) Bsdes agitprop, The Center faitated other important responses to 
HIV/AIDS such a upr rup.Te Center also housed the New York Memorial Quilt, a participatory art therapy project completed at The Center 
Quilt Workshop, vnshl ro eruary to July 1988 that were part of 
a national effortt otiue aes in memory of people who died of 
AIDS for the NAMESPoetAD Mmral Quilt. The New York Memorial 
Quilt was displayedo h ra Lw n Central Park in June 1988.37 The 
impact of HIV/AIDS o a r a imne. Many queer artists of the 
1980s were HIV positieo eefied r lovers of those who were. They 
responded with intensiyt h IS rss through the production of fine 
art as well as agitprop urlasretteater, and a direct-action protest 
movement in the form of C Padlte,Qeer Nation (founded in 
1990).38 Paradoxically, a h aetmetemainstream art world began 
to deal with the topic of a r nehiiins, the HIV/AIDS crisis nearly 
decimated a generation of gyatss3

These connections were explored in 1989 at The Center in two
important art exhibitions: Imagining Stonewall and The Center Show. Imagining Stonewall was a commemoration of the twentieth anniversary
f the June 27, 1969 occasion when LGBTQ people fought back against a tpical police raid of the Stonewall Inn, located at 53 Christopher Street (in
h same neighborhood as The Center). Imagining Stonewall was an iprtant exhibition because it provided an example of defiant activism to contemporary LGBTQ AIDS activists and it also gave LGBTQ artists the
potunity to come out in their work and display it in a specifically LGBTQ evrnment. Many pieces combined personal and political content, such
sToas Lanigan-Schmidt’s Mother Stonewall and the Golden Rats, isald in the stairwell in the back of the building as well as the roof,
hc nluded text featuring the artist’s own memories of the 1969 Soealriots.40 The Center Show, which opened on June 1, 1989
omsind fifty artists to make site-specific installations throughout TeCne.Curated by Rick Barnett and Barbara Sahlman, The Center
hwfaue established and emerging artists who dealt with gay sxaiydrctly in their work including the sculptor Arch Connelly (1950-
1993), the AIDS activist art collective Gran Fury (1988-1995), and the
ane et aring (9819)

Keith Haring was one
of the most famous artists of the 1980s. He
as integral to the Dwntown or East Village
r scene of the 1980s, wih included many
GT artists such as PtrHujar, David
onrwicz, Nan Goldin, Mr orisroe, Greer Lankton, and Martin Wong.41 Haring began his
ritccareer as a street artist drawing in chalk in the New York City sbas aring chose a second floor men’s bathroom at The Center for
i ntlation, a mural entitled Once Upon a Time (Figure 3). He painted LBQAtad Artists this mural just nine months before he died of AIDS in 1990. The mural
tefi elebration of gay sex and is rife with phallic imagery; it is priual uited for its location, as men’s public bathrooms have
itrclyben places where men who have sex with other men have fudec te. Called “A Joyful Mural, Born in a Time of Shame and
er yteNwYork Times, it promoted sex positivity—that sex could be pesrbeadepowering—at a time when the gay community was 
oue agl nHIV/AIDS prevention measures ranging from 
asiec ocno use. The room housing Once Upon a Time was later 
covre oameig room, and today is devoted exclusively to the 
Harn ntlain4 

TheCne sas oe to the LGBT Community Center National 
HistoyAcieadPtParker/Vito Russo Center Library, which contain 
many at-eae bet.43 The building has undergone several major 
renovato rjcssnethe 1980s including in 1998 and in 2013.44 
Today, TeCne ean n important meeting spot, particularly for 
queer youho oo.

Club Uranus

Jerome Caja (1958-1995) was an artist who represents the radical
queer scene that developed in San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s, which he participated in as a visual artist, a drag queen, a go-go dancer,
nd a contributor to the nascent “queercore” zine movement. Caja cltivated a nontraditional drag persona that eschewed glamorous mimicry of conventional femininity and instead embraced a haggish
esona represented in part by ripped lingerie and messy makeup. Caja’s atreflected the influence of his Catholic upbringing in its references to
ans and iconography. He drew upon art history as well, and broke the rlsof conventional subject matter and taste to create a distinctly queer
eteic. Caja worked on a small scale, utilizing drag materials such as gitr lace, and nail polish to create tiny portraits that combined
rdtoal concerns with transgressive subject matter. Caja received an MAfo he San Francisco Art Institute in 1986. Afterwards he achieved
ainlatention, including exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Mdr r nd inclusion in In a Different Light, the groundbreaking
eba n ay art exhibition co-organized by Lawrence Rinder and NyadBaein 1995 at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film
rhv fteUniversity of California, Berkeley.45 Caja died from AIDS cmlctosi 1995, at age thirty-seven, shortly after completing
nevesfrte Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Asre fcus(Club Chaos, Club Screw, and Club Uranus) in San 
rnic pndi the late 1980s and early 1990s and were notable for 
mxdgne n eder-bending crowds that gathered for performances, 
dacn,adlv r events. These bars were also favored hangout places 
of ue ainadAT UP activists, as well as local queer musicians and 
cultrlpoues mortantly, the patronage of these clubs reflected a 
queersniiiywmn men, and transgender people were encouraged 
to attn.Weesi rvious decades the gay community tended to 
remain eaae ln eder lines, due to the urgency of the AIDS 
crisis, e n oe aetogether and “queer” became a favored self-
designation which reflected a more expansive and fluid notion of sexual 
identity.Cu rnswspimarily located at The EndUp, in the South of 
Market disrc t41SxhStreet and Harrison. The EndUp opened in 1973 and was a gay disco open seven nights a week, and today is 
renowned asacne o os music. Club Uranus began at The EndUp 
on December 0 99 aawsone of the master of ceremonies for the 
first Miss Urnscnet(ugd by a San Francisco Examiner art critic, a 
sex magazine eio,adaSnFancisco Arts Commission Gallery 
Director). Cajawsafeun tendee of Club Uranus and detailed his 
performances theei i neve with the Smithsonian Archives of 
American Art. sa aacpprops="{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":259}">

The Corcoran

The Corcoran is an important location in LGBTQ history as the site
where the late-1980s controversy over the erotic art of gay American artist Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) reached its apex.46 This controversy
as become a touchstone of the US Culture Wars—debates in the 1980s ad 1990s—that played out predominantly between conservative
oiticians and religious leaders and liberal artists and academics. Among teCulture War battlefields were debates about artistic freedom and
udng for controversial artworks, including those with sexually explicit tee.

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment was a retrospective of the
American photographer, who died from AIDS complications in 1989 and was as famous for his still life photographs of flowers as he was for his
imilarly composed homoerotic photographs of nude black men. Janet Krdon of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of
ensylvania organized the exhibition, which was mounted at the uiersity in December 1988 to acclaim by critics and audiences alike,
eoe it traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago early in 1989.47 Despite the popular and critical acclaim, the show was cancelled toweks before it was to open at the Corcoran. Director Christina Orr-
Cahall, under conservative pressure from several of the museum’s
rses as well as Republican United States Senate Representatives JseHlms (North Carolina) and Dick Armey (Texas), cancelled the show
mdtrats that the Corcoran (and other institutions showing cnrvrial art) would lose funding from the National Endowment for the
rs(E) Opponents claimed that Mapplethorpe’s work, particularly his X Prfloo sadomasochistic imagery, were obscene.48

Orr-Cahall’s decision not to show Mapplethorpe’s work was
controversial, and several artists cancelled exhibits they had scheduled for the Corcoran. The Coalition of Washington Artists organized protests
ncluding rallies attended by hundreds of people outside the Corcoran, ad on June 30, 1989, they projected slides of Robert Mapplethorpe’s
ok onto the façade of the building. Orr-Cahall resigned from the Croran as a result of the controversy. In July and August of 1989, the
opofit arts organization, Washington Project for the Arts, hosted the Mplthorpe exhibit in DC.49 Senator Helms and others followed up on
hi hreats, and in 1990, Helms introduced a Senate bill to deny NEA fnst artwork considered “obscene.” The bill did not pass.50 Today,
apehrpe is well respected, and has had a tremendous influence on ohratsts including the gay artist Glenn Ligon and has been written
bu nifluential articles by the gay art historian Richard Meyer, the gay atcii ouglas Crimp, and the gay art theorist Kobena Mercer.51 In 2014 the Corcoran Gallery closed and its collection was transferred to the
ainlGlery of Art.

The groundswell of hostility to transgressive culture was nowhere more
evident than in the controversy that surrounded Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment. However, the fallout of the Culture Wars was
normous. In July 1989, one month after the Mapplethorpe exhibition was cncelled at the Corcoran, Senator Helms called for an amendment
rhibiting the use of public NEA funds for works of art including dpctions of homoeroticism among other taboos. All 1990 NEA grant
eiients were required to sign this anti-obscenity pledge. In July 1990, Jh rohnmayer, the head of the NEA, vetoed four grants by the lesbian,
a,ad feminist performance artists Karen Finley, Holly Hughes, Tim Mle,and John Fleck for being too politicized.52 The artists filed suit when
hi peal was rejected, and three years later they settled the suit, wnigrinstatement of the grants and challenging the constitutionality
fte“eency” pledge required by NEA guidelines in the wake of Helm’s aedet n retrospect these controversies served to raise important
sus wodecides what is art? Is ‘quality’ a relative, socially determined wr,lk oscenity’? The decency clause remains in effect to this day,
n E rnsto individual artists were discontinued in the 1990s. There aecniun ffects of the Culture Wars on the creation, funding, and
itiuino ontemporary art.53


It is necessary to understand that due to social stigma, for the majority
of the twentieth century LGBTQ artists created art in a national climate of censorship. Especially after the gay liberation movement that followed the
tonewall Riots of 1969, there was a shift in LGBTQ identity in the United Sates. Many more artists came out as gay, bisexual, or lesbian and began
omake art that reflected those experiences and for that reason the aont of LGBTQ art and artists, as well as institutions devoted to them,
rmtically increased after 1970.54 In many forms, then, the influence of LBQindividuals on American art has been constant, significant, and

Within the art world, recent years have witnessed a variety of
approaches to the topic of LGBTQ art: a dialogue between the affirmation of difference on the one hand and the disavowal of difference on the
ther. Many artists who have same-sex relationships do not identify as gy, lesbian, bisexual, or queer because social stigmas remain and they
r wary that being out as LGBTQ might hinder their careers as artists. Ohrs have created networks based on queer cultural alliances, leading
onw collaborations and exhibitions. In fact, some have taken up “queer” a abel that is accommodating of gays, lesbians, transgender and
ieul artists as well as heterosexual ones who engage in sexually rdclor perverse themes in their art. Whereas figurative art remains a
la ehod of queer representation, artists have embraced conceptual adasrct aesthetic strategies as well. For many artists, the politics of
eult annot be divorced from other identities including gender, race, adcas oday, there is no clear definition of LGBTQ art, yet the field of artistic production and scholarship regarding LGBTQ themes continues to
xad ayartists from the history of LGBTQ art remain under-
recognized and this study aims to contribute to the promotion and rcgiino LGBTQ achievements in American art.