LGBT, which stands for Lesbian (L), Gay (G), Bisexual (B) and Transgender (T). They are some of the minorities in the entire population, and alike to other minorities, people within the community has been being criticised, attacked because of different reasons from history to present. Therefore, LGBT people need something to make them stand in the society, to be promoted and let people know more about them in order to reduce the discrimination. On the other hand, for art, it can do so many things, you can use it to express your personal feelings, or you can apply art on discussing world issues. From working art for oneself to the whole world and beyond, therefore, can art also be an aid for people? As artists’ works aim to deliver messages to the audience regardless for the sake of themselves or others.
Thus, this article aims to look more on how art, such as projects and products, helps these minorities. And some of the art projects will be revealed as examples no matter they are for the LGBT people themselves or for the people outside the community because people still need knowledge in order to have more understandings and respect.
First of all, there was a tragic event happened last June, which was the mass shooting in a gay club in Orlando, United States, entitled ‘Pulse’. Marc Andreyko, the organiser of the book ‘LOVE IS LOVE’, felt unbelievable and nauseated by the fact of how it actually happened. After that, he started to organise a comic in order to fund for the event and raise awareness rapidly. He mentioned, “I just started asking people, and people started asking me … the list of creators is insane.” There were over 250 creators from different kinds of people came to help for the production of the comic and it was overwhelming (Ching, 2016).
I bought the book for the research of my Final Major Project, but also I wanted to show support to the LGBT community. And after that, the result was excellent. According to The Washington Post, the comic reached the New York Times’ bestseller list for graphic books. They even literally raised $165,000 and helped the victims and people associated with the Pulse’s shooting, which the act means so much for them and towards other people to acknowledge the event and the struggle of the LGBT community in order to diminish the hate and raise allies for the group through understanding (Cavna, 2017).
Speaking of understanding, I will discuss education on the other hand. In my perspective, through educating people, they will understand the knowledge and be less opposed. However, without some aspects of knowledge, people would be ignorant and resist to the things that they did not learn or they misunderstood. When I was in high school, teachers did not talk much about LGBT-related topics, as they were sensitive and controversial with the fact that I was in a Catholic school. Therefore, the lack of providing information leads to inherit the traditional concepts and misunderstanding. In an article, which was aimed to research on teachers’ commented on reasons they would not educate the student on LGBT-related literature topics. Most of them claiming that teaching these controversial topics were not suitable to deliver the message in classes because of various reasons and issues that they needed to deal with (Thein, 2013).
One of the reasons was that parents or the school would not approve. As the article stated that there were many religious parents and opposite viewer inside the schools, they assumed that there would be a personal sacrifice because those negative voices would affect teachers’ jobs with the disapproval of schools despite the fact that they support the LGBT community (2013: 173). Another reason was that students would joke on the content of the LGBT community, which gave negative effects on those ‘little societies’ when sensitive words spread in the atmosphere of the classroom. However, I do not understand the reasons as the words that making fun and jokes towards LGBT community is due to the lack of education, which I mentioned above. In another word, letting classmates learn more about the community will result in the reduced use of offensive words. The knowledge that teachers give to students and teach them it is not suitable and unacceptable to insult people in the way of whom they are.
My argument point leads to another reason, which is language Arts teachers argued that they were not the one who responsible for teaching students about these topics according to the article as it was not their job (2013: 172). But it shows the fact that some teachers are not doing their jobs as they are meant to teach students about everything rather than just the subject they ‘need’ to educate them, which they were contradicting themselves. Therefore, with education, in this case, Language Arts, they will help the LGBT community if teachers stop avoiding teaches them.
Secondly, as I mentioned about understanding through education, there was a short film project entitled ‘TransMilitary’, co-produced by Fiona Dawson, Jamie Coughlin, and Gabe Silverman. The visual art tells the story of two transgender couple, Ireland and Villanueva, serving in the military with different obstacles regarding the gender norms within the military environment and how they overcame or lived with the standard. In the short documentary, for Ireland, the transgender man, he would not let others know he was transgender as long as it was necessary, in the film, he told his sergeant of his identity and he could be in ‘Blues’, that he was able to wear as a male in the troops during ceremonies. However, due to the military is a male dominated environment, Villanueva was difficult to let the chief to accept from a man to a woman, she was not approved as a female and she needed to wear her male clothing in the army hospital (fionadawson, n.d.). Therefore, the short film tells the situation that helps people to understand more about the situation transgender are facing and how they deal with it. And with the popular media which spread the information and educates people in a large scale no matter for the people in the LGBT community or outside the group.
Regardless of people outside the community, people within the LGBT group are also having much discrimination, which sabotages the unity of the community. People still get a stereotypical image of all homosexual people as masculine, handsome and lean. Yet, how about the people who are not featuring the appearance having above? Are they not within the community? In a project which taken part in New York City, Thor Stockman was pictured holding hands with his husband of 3 and a half years and was part of Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s work, life-size mosaics in New York new Second Avenue subway line (Fonrouge 2016). They were in some unassuming clothes with the body sizes that passengers in the subway normally had. It reveals people more about the LGBT community without the glitters and typical standard that the mass media is giving. Also, telling that a gay couple is the same as a heterosexual couple with an average-looking body with different age.
Furthermore, it also linked the issue about “typical” in the community. “I also want people to be honest with each other. Berlin is a great place for fun and sex, but nobody wants to accept that they are fucked up and depressed. Nobody speaks about the loneliness of gay people,” said Mischa Badasyan in an interview about his performance art project – “SAVE THE DAY”. He was having sex with 365 men every day in a year. He learned more about himself and grew up a bit, especially having sex with different people such as transgender, HIV-positive men, and straight men. Being loved and being lied, which led to his disbelief to people, and he pointed out that the discriminate within the gay community. Moreover, inspire the hate and devastate during the project, there were messages from people from worldwide sending love and some were even aided by the project. One of the instances is that a Russian man sent a message to Badasyan that he got HIV virus and feeling depressed. However, with the project that letting people know about the topic gave him hope and less lonely (Nichols 2016).
“People are frightened by female organs because they don’t know what they look like,” said Hannah Wilke (Chadwick, 2012). When things are unclear and unknown for people, they tend to get afraid of them, even hate and violence is formed. Likewise, people in LGBT community suffer in the same situation, from past to present. They even get killed and imprisoned in some countries. Thus, artists create artworks to raise funds; produce educational documentary projects and organise performance to express human fragility and self-identity. They do all these things to have practical aids and assistance and let people understand and learn that people in the LGBT community are also human beings, there is no reason to harm or spread hatred towards each other within this world.
- Cavna, M. (2017). All-star comic book ‘Love Is Love’ raises $165,000 for Orlando Pulse tragedy victims. [online] Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2017/03/27/all-star-comic-book-love-is-love-raises-165000-for-orlando-pulse-tragedy-victims/?utm_term=.bfd3b35aaea7 [Accessed 2 May 2017].
- Jimenez, P. (2016). Love is love. 1st ed. IDW.
- Ching, A. (2016). Love is Love: Andreyko Shares ‘Moving, Powerful’ Stories in Orlando Benefit Anthology. [online] CBR. Available at: http://www.cbr.com/love-is-love-andreyko-shares-powerful-stories-in-orlando-benefit-anthology/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].
- Thein, A. (2013). Language Arts Teachers’ Resistance to Teaching LGBT Literature and Issues. [online] 90, pp.169-180. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41804391 [Accessed 2 May 2017].
- (n.d.). TransMilitary. [online] Available at: http://www.fionadawson.com/transmilitary/ [Accessed 9 May 2017].
- Fonrouge, G. (2016). Gay couple featured in Second Avenue subway mural. [online] New York Post. Available at: http://nypost.com/2016/12/27/gay-couple-featured-in-second-avenue-subway-mural/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2017].
- Nichols, J. (2016). What This Man Learned From Having Sex With 365 Guys In One Year. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mischa-badasyan-save-the-date_us_57e45516e4b0e80b1ba1411a [Accessed 25 Mar. 2017].
- Chadwick, W. (2012). Women, Art and Society. 5th ed. Thames & Hudson.
Cover of comic book ‘Love is Love’. (2017). [image] Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2017/03/27/all-star-comic-book-love-is-love-raises-165000-for-orlando-pulse-tragedy-victims/?utm_term=.5a859fd3d036 [Accessed 22 May 2017].
Ireland and Villanueva. (2015). [image] Available at: http://www.fionadawson.com/transmilitary/ [Accessed 22 May 2017].
The Second Avenue subway mural by Vik Muniz. (2016). [image] Available at: http://nypost.com/2016/12/27/gay-couple-featured-in-second-avenue-subway-mural/ [Accessed 22 May 2017].