Peter Hujar Gay Liberation Front Poster Image, 1970 Vintage gelatin silver print, 18.188 in x 12.438 in Gift of the Peter Hujar Archive, LLC. Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum.
The 1970s: The Blossoming of a Queer Enlightenment
Apr 08 - Jul 03, 2016
In this exhibition, we examine the profound decade of liberation, personal exploration, and sexual freedom that began with the June 1969 riots at New York City’s Stonewall Inn up to the time we first heard doctors in 1981 talking about a mysterious pneumonia affecting gay men. Emboldened by the bravery of gender variant pioneers who refused to capitulate to the police, the opposition voiced by gays, lesbians, and the transgender community was clearly heard. Although some sexual acts between consenting adults were considered illegal in many states—some people even believed them sinful—the gay community was ready to respond. It was this enlightened time that set the stage for the remarkable changes we experience in the 21st century.
The Museum’s staff has dug deep into our trove of over 24,000 artworks to tell the story of the 1970s. Through the work of these artists, we see the “gay rights” movement at its nascent stage. These works reflect a period of time when the gay community hoped for the possibility of equality, demonstrating, and articulating the need, for freedom from repression.
The 1970s was a time when we sought to explore our sense of otherness through the examination of self and the sexual experimentation and freedom our bodies gave us. Our new found right to express this freedom emboldened our creativity to impact art, fashion, and the culture at large, changing society forever.
Programmatic support provided by: Keith Haring Foundation Inc., New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts.