President Barack Obama proclaimed June to be national LGBT Pride Month. The President’s declaration made me think about a piece of art I created in 2007 titled Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (right). Then, I considered majoring in psychology and was wildly fascinated by psychology of gender. Under the tutelage of Dr. Ritts and Dr. Pierroutsakos, my studies encompassed various topics related to the LGBT community – including gay and lesbian cinema, homosexual parenting and adoption, and overall reactions and attitudes of people toward a shirt with the word “bisexual” painted on it. My studies proved fruitful, that year I received certificates for being an “Outstanding Behavioral Science” and “Outstanding Psychology” student.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was created to represent the oppressive policies and attitudes of The United States toward the LGBT community – specifically the military policy bearing the same name. As you can see in the drawing, a sorrowful, defeated soldier is bound by the American flag. This soldier is not truly free.
Fast-forward seven years to 2014, and the progress you’ll notice is truly amazing. Discriminatory policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) have been repealed, nineteen states legally recognize same-sex marriage, there is a boom in queer cinema (example: The emotionally powerful film The Normal Heart – starring Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo) and President Obama has just declared June to be national LGBT Pride Month – and these are just a few of the many historic milestones.
With this progress in mind, I decided to revisit Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to honor our achievements as a nation. I now present to you: Pride. For Pride, you’ll first notice the American flag loosely formed in the shape of a heart. This imagery was done to represent the slow, but coming embrace of the American people. The flag provides comfort and warmth to the now-smiling soldier. You’ll also notice the soldier’s suggested nudity. When we are nude, we are in a vulnerable state of being. The flag acting as a shield represents LGBT integration into mainstream society. The soldier is no longer confined by the flag, instead the gap between the flag over the chest is in place to represent freedom. Finally, there are nineteen stars – to represent the nineteen states that legally recognize same-sex marriage. For me, this image embodies the word pride. I hope you enjoy – and please, share this post and your thoughts.
(c) 2014. Bobby James.