Pride Month Spotlight: NYFA-Affiliated Artists and LGBTQIA+ Activism
NYFA-affiliated artists are making change with their work.
In his recent essay, “I Found A Home In Clubs Like Pulse In Cities Like Orlando,” Rigoberto González (Fellow in Poetry ‘11) describes how he and his friends found something of a sanctuary in Latino gay clubs and in Latin Night:
We know, we have always known, that no place is safe — we are queer people of color, no place is ever safe for us, not even the gay club — but it’s one of the few spaces where, at least for the duration of a song, we can imagine a complete surrender to the music that transports us into the sheer enjoyment of a moment.
We didn’t give a damn. And we didn’t have to explain a single thing.
NYFA hopes to create a safe space for all artists, of all disciplines, to express themselves freely. And we are proud to support artists who address and portray the LGBTQIA+ experience.
We provide concrete resources to allow them to move forward in their creative process, whether they’re documenting and celebrating their communities, as in the “Brotherhood of Bears” photo series from Alan Charlesworth (Fellow in Photography ‘10), creating “‘lesbian fiction’ rather than ‘fiction with lesbian characters,’” like Ruthann Robson (Fellow in Nonfiction ‘07), or singing the blues, as Annie Lanzillotto (Fellow in Performance ‘99, Fiction ‘14) does in her new album.
NYFA-affiliated artists are shedding light on the issues faced by LGBTQIA+ communities; Samantha Box (Fellow in Photography ‘10) has been documenting New York City’s community of LGBTQIA+ youth of color since 2005, and, in No House to Call My Home, Ryan Berg (Fellow in Nonfiction ‘11) strives to give voice to the LGBTQIA+ youths he worked with in a group home.
And we hope you join us, this Pride Month and beyond, in supporting these artists in their work and in their advocacy. You can check out Charles Battersby’s play The Astonishing Adventures of All American Girl & The Scarlet Skunk, a NYFA fiscally sponsored project, this weekend at Brick Theater. The play is superhero-inspired, but Battersby told us in an interview that the play is “not really about the super heroics, it’s about people who don’t fit into society for various reasons, and how society reacts.”
Difference is a theme that Battersby explores off the stage as well; he founded the organization PressXY to highlight transgender issues in video games, and he arranges panel discussions on transgender themes in comic books. If you can’t catch the final night of Astonishing Adventures this weekend, never fear—there will likely be a second production in October.
This fall, you can celebrate the long-awaited premiere of A 24-Decade History of Popular Music from Taylor Mac (Fellow in Interdisciplinary Work ‘09) at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. You can also see Mac’s work this summer and catch a glimpse of the performance artist’s “revisionist history” through song, as it explores the dynamics of communities and reminds us that “It’s love, and love alone, that is the answer.”
– Mirielle Clifford, Program Associate, Online Resources
Images, from top: Samantha Box (Fellow in Photography ‘10), Nobody to Anybody: Homeless LGBT Youth 4, 2006; Alan Charlesworth (Fellow in Photography ‘10), Bear Trek Pool Party 2008, 2008