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June is Gay Pride Month!

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It’s time to don your rainbow attire because June is gay pride month! While many of us are surely excited to attend the gay pride parades that take place all over the country, there is more to this holiday than looking fabulous and rocking some sparkly spandex in the name of equality.

June was selected as LGBTQ pride month as a way to commemorate the Stonewall riots. On the June 28, 1969, the police raided The Stonewall Inn – a gay club in New York City. During these raids it was standard procedure for female police officers to escort customers dressed as women into the bathroom to verify their gender and any person dressed in drag was promptly arrested. Totally crazy but to put it in perspective, this was happening during a time in which the American Psychiatric Association still identified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Ugh.

Upon the sight of their fellow queens being arrested, the crowd began throwing bottles and rocks at the police and a riot ensued. The following days were filled with demonstrations, which became the catalyst for the formation of the Gay Liberation Front, which ultimately became the impetus for change towards equality in our country.

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A photo taken of the gay rights protestors after the Stonewall riots.

Needless to say, we have come a long way since the days of blatant discrimination and brutality against gay citizens. To date, we have 37 states where gay marriage is legal and just days ago, Obama released this statement regarding Gay Pride Month:

“Through struggle and setback, we see a common trajectory toward a more free and just society.  But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities – that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us – and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.” – President Barack Obama

Well-said Barack! I am sure Obama and Macklemore would get along famously with that outlook.

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Like the music industry, there are tons of LGBTQ artists from antiquity to now that have made fantastic contributions to the art world, and Sartle’s Gay Pride category makes it that much easier to learn about these artists and their work. 

In celebration of Gay Pride Month here are some of our favorites:

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Self Portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1980

If you have a thing for stunning, sexually explicit photography then Mapplethorpe is your man! Not one to shy away from sadomasochism, Mapplethorpe made a career out of photographing gay men, burly bros, and BDSM. Unsurprisingly, there have been a handful of controversies around the exhibition of his work. Some call his work obscene and indecent, I call it gorgeous and superb. And trust me, 50 Shades of Grey’s got nothin’ on Mapplethorpe!

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Ken Moody by Robert Mapplethorpe, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Ken Moody was one of Mapplethorpe’s favorite models. Mapplethorpe loved the perfection of the muscly males in Greek sculpture, and if Ken Moody’s smoking hot bod doesn’t remind you of a modern day Greek God then I don’t know what will.

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Keith Haring by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1989

Haring is one of those lovable characters who will likely never be forgotten. This is probably because his artwork is plastered all over contemporary culture, from hipster tee shirts to skateboards and more. Haring was very active in the gay community and spent the majority of his career pioneering for gay rights and raising awareness of AIDS. Many people call him a sell out, but he did so in the name of equality and safety. Not a bad way to be remembered.

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Safe Sex by Keith Haring, Whitney Museum of American Art

Haring loved to draw penises…like a lot. Here is a perfect example of the type of work Haring created in an attempt to advocate for a safer gay culture.

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David Hockney by Jane Brown

Hockney was never one to hide his love for the male bod and explored it in his artwork on the reg. Paintings of naked men showering and frolicking about is commonplace throughout his portfolio. Being a fan of the flashy gay counterculture, he feels that gay men today have grown soft. As he explained in an interview with The Telegraph in reference to contemporary gay men, “They want to be ordinary – they want to fit in, Well I don’t care about that. I don’t care about fitting in. Everywhere is so conservative.” Its okay David, we love you for your flamboyant self and hope that never changes!

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Man in Shower in Beverly Hills by David Hockney, Tate Britain

We can only hope that this sudsy stud muffin was part of one of Hockney’s gay fantasies and not the result of a peeping-tom situation. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen…

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Andy Warhol by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1986

He’s fierce, he’s infamous, he’s Andy Warhol. It is well known now, but back when Warhol escalated to stardom, few people actually knew he was gay. While no one actually knows the validity of this statement (Warhol liked to yank people’s chains), but he claimed that he lost his virginity at the age of 25 to one of his boyfriends and then remained celibate for the rest of his life. Everyone knows his Campbell Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe screen prints, but less well known are his erotic photography and drawings of the male nude. He may not have been one for a roll in the hay, but he sure liked to think about it.

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Gold Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, Museum of Modern Art

Marilyn Monroe has become a symbol for all sorts of things throughout our culture from sex to femininity and is often considered one of the ultimate gay icons. Yes she’s remembered as a man-eating femme fatale, but it is also commonly believed that she was bisexual. Looks like her and Warhol have more in common than an addiction to the spotlight.

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Frida Kahlo may have only every truly loved one man, her husband and Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. She was completely head over heals for Rivera, but we can’t say as much for him. Rivera was a total adulterer and put little effort into hiding his philandering ways from Kahlo. In attempt to get back at him, Kahlo had countless affairs with men and women, thus snagging her the title of the most badass bisexual in art history. She also had a penchant for androgyny and cross-dressing, which started from a young age and can be seen in paintings such as Self-Portrait with Chopped Hair.

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The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo, Museum of Modern Art Mexico

This is a perfect example of how much Rivera messed with Kahlo’s head. The Frida on the right is the one that is still in love with Rivera (she is holding a small picture of him) and the Frida on the left is trying to sever her ties with him and presumably is the one with proclivities towards the ladies.

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The most dynamic duo of the art world, I present to you: Gilbert and George! Besides being one of the most adorable gay couples, these two have a dapper style that is rivaled by few. This couple first met at art school where they experienced one of those giddy love at first sight moments, and the rest was history. Gilbert and George have always created art that was anti-elitist, and adopted the slogan “Art for All.” Thanks for hacking away at the pretentious art world G&G!

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Named by Gilbert and George, Tate Modern

Everyone just needs a little lovin. This piece by Gilbert and George is an homage to all the male prostitutes out there in hopes that they never be forgotten.

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The grandpappy of the Pop art movement, Robert Rauschenberg, was gay too. Rauschenberg had an intense six year-long romance with fellow artist Jasper Johns. These two artists rose to fame together and allowed their intimate love to greatly influence their work. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery held a retrospective show for them both 2010, which focused on how their love changed the face of the art world. Needless to say, this did not go over too well with the Congressional Republicans who threatened to cut funding to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for exhibiting such a gay-themed exhibition. Drama queens.

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Canyon by Robert Rauschenberg, Museum of Modern Art

I am just going to come out and say it: That pillow looks like testicles. Maybe I have a dirty mind, but I am pretty sure Rauschenberg is subliminally showing the world his fondness for the family jewels.

By: Jennifer

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Jennifer Tucker

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