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"It's Not Gay if They Don't Touch"

Title: "It's Not Gay if They Don't Touch": Challenging Heteronormative Empire and Countering the 'Closeting of History' Through Art.
Name(s): Steel, Isabella, author
Department of Art
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: serial
Date Issued: 2013
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: My project revolves around the "closeting of history", which is the phenomenon in which evidence that suggests gay or bisexual behavior is omitted from the narratives of important historical figures, thus allowing them to be imagined as heterosexual by future generations (and depriving young people of gay and bisexual icons). I wanted to create artwork that counters this phenomenon, by placing historical figures and popular characters in situations that complicate their sexuality, removing them from the heterosexual narrative that they have been confined to. I first began to explore this concept with a series of drawings of several American presidents as drag queens, complete with drag names, such as Abraham "Babe" Lincoln. I want these and other art pieces of mine to challenge the idea of "normativity" as applied to sexuality by re-appropriating iconic figures such as presidents, who have been symbols of heterosexual masculinity and success, as tools for showing sexuality as a performance—something that is fluid rather than compartmentalized. I want key works to simultaneously tackle the discomfort associated with excessive femininity, particularly when that femininity is applied to powerful individuals, and to negate the idea of the effeminate as weak. My artwork consists primarily of colorful and playful drawings and paintings, inspired by the camp aesthetic and sense of humor. At the end of the day, I just want to confront people with fun images of gay male sexuality, so that they might question what it is about it that makes them uncomfortable, and whether their discomfort is truly warranted.
Identifier: FSU_migr_undergradresearch-0003 (IID)
Subject(s): Art
Art and design
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU
Is Part of Series: Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence.

Choose the citation style.
Steel, I. (2013). "It's Not Gay if They Don't Touch": Challenging Heteronormative Empire and Countering the 'Closeting of History' Through Art. Retrieved from