For the 2013 100 Artists For World AIDs Day exhibition I wanted to strike a new pose, reappropriating the images that surrounded us from the dancefloors we loved. Flyer collections raided. Memories Xeroxed. I wanted to capture the sense of family as my community faced a threat none of us knew could hit us so hard. I wanted to reflect our response as we danced into the night, clinging to each other in the hope that one day, just one day, the worse would be over. There but for Grace went we.
From the late 1980s until the mid 1990s queers became the Other twice over. Homophobia had a new and seemingly legitimate reason for existence. HIV & AIDS. It was the scapegoat bigots had long wished, a chance to yet again definine queers as a threat to the norm. Tabloids condemned us in frenzy of fantastical hate whilst politicians engaged in a moral panic and legislated against the promotion of homosexuality. The resulting Act known as Section 28, sparked national protests from LGBT activists and supporters and created a gender barrier crossing community for the first time. London-based protest group OutRage! confronted the homophobic actions of the right wing press and politicians, whilst gay and lesbian activists reclaimed the term queer. Just as the reaction to the oppression of gay men and drag queens of the Stonewall Inn had in 1969, Clause 28’s aim of oppressing homosexual visibility and acceptability delivered the opposite effect. Discrimination, the economic climate and AIDS may have fuelled the legislators desire to place homosexuality outside the norm, but the fault lines it exposed allowed the queer subculture an attempt at altering the dominant ideology.
‘No more bad times only good times in the good life’
We found refuge on our queer dancefloors. Our family in the disco, there to have and to hold as we faced the bigots left, right and centre. From Leeds to London, Brighton to Manchester, Soho to Sydney. We danced, we pranced, we hung on tight. We found Body Love with a Smirk, as we played our The Fruit Machine and kept life SubStation. We ate our Wild Fruit as one Queer Nation, playing Trix at the Sound Factory as we flexed our Love Muscle at The Garage. We escaped to Manumission to ply our Trade, stopping off at The Dyke Shed, never the SLAG but always ready to Up Your Ronson. The Sugar Candy we found there was FAB, ensuring LOVE went Back to Basics as we travelled the Naked Speedway, spun our Flesh and got all Kinky Gerlinky as we watched Venus Rising. We went clubbing whilst others condemned. We went to heaven as we faced hell. And we built our so-called pretend family. Only there was nothing pretend about what we found on the dancefloor. Those of us who survived have a beat in our souls that will always be heard. We are the queer clubbers. We have no Shame. We are family.
There But For The Grace. Collage. 40×40. Framed. £120. 20% proceeds to The Sussex Beacon. For further info and limited edition prints please go to Strike A Pose
100 Artists For World AIDS Day 2013. 100 artists will come together to raise awareness and funds for HIV/ Aids and The Sussex Beacon, a care centre for those affected by HIV and Aids.
The exhibition will take place in The Founders Room next to the cafe/bar at Brighton’s Dome, Church Street from December 1st-8th 10am-5pm. Please note that the exhibition is closed to the public on Monday December 2nd. Thanks to Hizze and Thirteen Productions for all her hard work to ensure the exhibition happens.