|While learning silkscreen printing at the New
England School of Photography in Boston, my instructor gave us the
assignment to create a print that told something about ourselves. I
knew Suzie was going to take a picture of herself and her teddy bear
and Chuck was going to be standing by his car and Bob was going to be
holding a hamburger. This thought horrified me. I wasn’t out to my
classmates, so I knew immediately what I
had to do. I asked my best friend if I could borrow his boyfriend for
the photograph (he was the right height and had chest hair).
After the shot, I
locked myself into one of the private darkrooms to make the
separations. I waited until late at night on Friday to do the printing
while everyone else was out partying. No one was going to see this
until the critique.
The day of the
critique arrived and, sure enough, Suzie had a picture of herself and
her teddy bear. “Great,” the instructor said disinterestedly. “ Suzie
likes teddy bears, but what does that tell me about Suzie? Nothing.
Next?” Chuck standing by his car was next. And Bob holding a hamburger
after that. All received the same treatment from the instructor. I felt
ripped-off and said so. “Well!” said my classmates. “If yours is so
good, let’s see it!” “I’m going last” I declared. There was many
attempts to make me go next, but I refused. The rest of the class
followed in the footsteps of Suzie, Chuck, and Bob. And all were
quickly dismissed by the instructor.
Finally it was my
turn. I got up from my seat, pinned the print on the board in front of
the class, then turned around and looked each one of them in the eye
before sitting down.
There was dead
smiled for the first time that entire day.
said, “That’s...that’s two MEN!!”
“That’s right,” I
said. “I’m gay.”
The print was an
immediate hit and I was pressured (not against my will) to display it
in the entry hall of the school. There was no way anyone who entered
the school could avoid seeing it. All of my other classes wanted me to
bring it for their critiques as well. The response was overwhelming and
positive. I’m glad I did it.