Celebrate Diversity (exhibition)

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Date: 2001

Region: North America

Subject: Sexual/Gender Orientation

Medium: Installation. Mixed Media


Artist: Lamb of God Metropolitan Community Church (a predominantly gay and lesbian congregation) and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)

Confronting Bodies: Mayor George Wuerch

Dates of Action: June, 2001

Location: Z.J. Loussac Public Library, Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Description of Artwork: The Gay Pride Month exhibit, meant to "encourage discussion and dispel myths about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons," included posters, texts, and diagrams. In addition, T-Shirts were tacked to walls above the elevators to give library patrons the feeling they were walking in and out of closets; an accompanying sign read "closets are for clothes not people." The designer of this Celebrate Diversity display claimed that the word "sex" does not appear in the piece.

The Incident: The materials for the installation were shown to the library on a Friday; the municipality's head librarian agreed. Over the weekend, however, the librarian decided that T-shirts above the elevators were dangerous and needed to be moved. Further, he alerted his supervisor that a potentially controversial exhibit was going up. Library staff attempted to contact the installers on Monday to tell them to hold off installation, but they did not get the message. The exhibit was installed onto a display wall on Monday evening. The contents of the exhibition were brought to the attention of the mayor on Tuesday morning when the mayor decided that it must come down.

Results of Incident: The exhibit was taken down before the library's opening at 10am on Tuesday. The installers/organizations were not informed prior to the removal. A table that featured gay-theme books and videos remained. Some other remaining materials, which were under glass, could not be seen unless a patron walked up to the table. A few days later, Wuerch announced a ban on all similar displays in Municipal buildings.

Source: Anchorage Daily News