pictures of queer oppression and revolution in the 1970s

A new exhibition of images from the decade reminds us how much has changed and stayed the same.

by Wendy Syfret
27 May 2016, 3:50am

Harvey Milk, San Francisco Gay Parade, 1974/2009, The Estate of Harvey Milk. Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum.

If the 1960s were the decade of sexual revolution, then the 70s were about discovery. That's the narrative explored in Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art's new show The 1970s: The Blossoming of a Queer Enlightenment. Across 115 works the New York gallery tracks a complex time when heterosexuality was being lauded, sold and worshiped in the mainstream while LGBTQ culture continued to fight for basic rights and recognition. Speaking to the Creator's Project, exhibition curator Hunter O'Hanian contextualises the time by reminding us this was a point "between Stone Wall and the very first time people heard anything about AIDS". She sees the work as holding particular significance today, at a moment when people are "addressing a lot of gender questions and living gender queer and fluid lifestyles". Describing the works she explains, "These images are of gay people looking at themselves and addressing questions of sexuality and gender".

'The 1970s: The Blossoming of a Queer Enlightenment' is showing till 26 June. Head over to the Creator's Project for their full chat with Hunter.

Rink Foto, Lovers in a 1951 Mercury, 1979/2009, Founders' gift. Collection of LeslieLohman Museum.

Cathy Cade, Fat Chance, 1979/2011, Foundation purchase. Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum.

Diana Davies, Demonstration at City Hall, 1973/2013. Gift of Alexis Heller, ©NYPL. Collection of LeslieLohman Museum.

Fayette Hauser, Wally at Oak Street, 1971. Gift of the artist. Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum.

Peter Hujar, Gay Liberation Front Poster Image, 1970. Gift of the Peter Hujar Archive, LLC. Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum.

Rink Foto, The first large group of lesbians in the San Francisco Gay Parade, invited by Harvey Milk, 1974/2016. Gift of the artist.

Diana Davies, Gay rights demonstration, Albany, 1971/2013. Gift of Alexis Heller, ©NYPL. Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum.


Text Wendy Syfret
Images via Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
queer culture