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Learn about queer art and literature

What’s the idea?

LGBTQ people have been expressing themselves through art and literature throughout the ages. Learn more about Queer Art and its history.

What’s the story?

During Pride Month, people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer or questioning (LGBT) community are encouraged to be proud of who they are and champion LGBT rights.

Art and literature is the most creative expression of self and inspires and empowers others.

Find out more about the creative souls that encouraged people in the LGBT and wider community to fearlessly be themselves.

They did this even during times when same-sex relationships were illegal and carried heavy penalties or even death if discovered.

People should do this because…?

Although many people have LGBT friends and family, most don’t really know much about the culture.

Exploring Queer art and literature can help you understand how those friends or family members are feeling and how they view the world.

It can also help you to get to know the LGBT community and culture, and its history, better.

How do you do it?

The internet is full of interesting information and examples of Queer Art. You just need a device with an internet connection. You can start by finding out what is considered Queer Art here.

Although Queer Art is defined as “homosexual or lesbian imagery that is based around the issues that evolved out of the gender and identity politics of the 1980s”, it can also refer to art that is contrary to the norm.

Discover the art

Many artists, from ancient to modern times, have depicted homosexual relationships in poetry and various art forms.

In some cases, this was as seemingly innocent as a group of men going swimming as in the work of Thomas Eakins or as risqué as a naked model strategically covered and reclining on a couch by John Singer Sargent.

See famous Queer artworks, categorized by artist, here.

Get to know the artists

Claude Cahun, Gluck and Francis Bacon were some of the most important artists of the Queer Art Movement.

They challenged gender stereotypes and wanted to present alternative versions of love and sexuality.

These artists often lived outrageous or tragic lives. Read five interesting stories about queer artists like Joe Orton, Claude Cahun and Dora Carrington here.

Art has also been used as a vehicle for queer activism.

Artists used their artworks as political and social commentary and to challenge authorities.

The art of Drag

Queer Art can also be said to include a performance component. One of the most popular forms is drag performances.

Drag artists are usually men who use clothing and makeup and accessories to create an often exaggerated female character.

They perform by, amongst others, lip-synching to hit songs.

This art form has gained interest (even among mainstream audiences) due to the popularity of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, a reality drag performance competition.

You can check out the show on various platforms such as Netflix and Youtube.

Books

Novels and other literary works have also shed light on struggles in the LGBT community.

Here are a few of the (award-winning) novels considered the genre’s best:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker – The book focuses on the life of Celie, an African-American woman living in Georgia in the 1930s and her struggles with abuse, sexual abuse and eventually a homosexual relationship. Not for sensitive readers as it contains explicit content.

The Price of Salt (AKA Carol) by Patricia Highsmith – The novel was adapted as a film starring Cate Blanchett and tell the story of the stormy romance between a young shopgirl and a married female customer she falls in love with. Luckily it has a happy ending.

Orlando by Virginia Woolf – Also a film adaptation featuring Tilda Swinton. A satirical history of English literature written as the fictional biography of a poet named Orlando. He changes sex from man to woman and lives over 300 years, despite only ageing a few decades. During his adventures, he meets key figures of English literary history.

If these books intrigue you, here are a few more suggestions.

Hopefully, these artworks will inspire you to fly your rainbow-flag during Pride Month!

Links to other Stuffer pages

Add links to other Pride articles

Links to other articles on the web

Are you an artist? Check out this non-profit arts organisation that supports the LGBT community.

15 Queer art shows you can virtually tour now 

Links to other videos on the web

Links to books

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