On Tuesday I heard an astonishing segment on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” It was about an apparent spike in anti-gay bullying that has swept through America in recent months, a spike that has also highlighted possibly increased suicides among gay and questioning youth. The NPR piece took as its departure point — as an acceptable journalistically ‘neutral’ premise — that gays and lesbians do not necessarily have a right to exist, that the mere right of gays and lesbians to live lives was a reasonably debatable cultural flashpoint.
Today, as I was thought about both the NPR piece and the bullying binge, I thought of David Wojnarowicz. The New York-based Wojnarowicz made art about the right of humans to be different from each other and about what it feels like to be unlike the dominant hetero-norm.
David Wojnarowicz, who was the subject of a 1999 New Museum retrospective, made art so different, so plain and so direct that it stands as an example: It’s not just activists and politicians that can impact America and American lives; artists have something to say about our world too, something that needs to be seen and heard.
Twenty years ago, Wojnarowicz made this piece, Untitled (One day this kid…). He made it as a 30 3/4-inch X 41-inch photostat, but it’s probably gained more cultural currency as a postcard available at just about every progressive bookstore in New York. This seems like a good time to post it. It also seems like a good time to suggest you visit and support GLSEN and that you share Wojnarowicz’s work with, well, everyone you can think of. Especially young people, all of them.
(Update: These five museums own this piece. Encourage them to install it now.)