Progression by Steven Gordon
Something that has always fascinated me, both in my work
and in my personal life, is the post 9/11 effect on the
city's health, especially the topic of HIV. Have certain
behaviors changed since the fall of the towers? That question
may be a hard one to answer. What I can answer is that the
rise of HIV infection has risen among people under the age
of 25 in NYC. Rates of infection in African American women
and African-American MSM have also increased in the past
seven years. My selection of artworks will seek to explore
what I have seen in both my personal life as a black gay
man and in my career working with HIV positive people in
post 9/11 New York.
In working with HIV positive folks, I have seen the full
spectrum of emotion and behavior. Jack Brusca's "Beck"
represents the despair on top of isolation many people feel
when dealing with a stigmatized condition. Tal Zargarhof's
"Chris Getting High" is the idea of escape from
reality. The artworks that include HIV medications represent
the gift and curse of modern medicine. The gift being a
prolonged and better quality of life, while the curses are
the side effects and pressure of staying adherent. Rodrigo
Zuniga's "El Abrazo" speaks to the human need
for intimacy, touch and sex. I chose Tim Greathouse's "Untitled"
because oftentimes I think it is assumed that HIV does not
mix well with romance, sex or marriage. To me this photo
challenges that stereotype. Max Greenberg's "Ten Years"
photo is essentially hope. The photograph of a man, who
is not ashamed of his HIV and after living with it for 10
years, remains healthy. This picture represents the most
important idea I want this gallery to represent: hope.
From my perspective, this gallery is a linear story that
represents basic human emotions in the face of any true
obstacle: fear, denial, anger, and hope. The resilience
of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.
Progressive Deterioration by RJ Supa
I recall my teenage obsession with Madonna as overwhelming,
defining, formative, obsessive and most things in between.
It was 1991, I was 15, and I had to have my aunt buy me
The Advocate with Madonna on the cover from our local adult
bookstore, the only place one could buy any gay magazine
in upstate New York.
After voraciously reading and re-reading Madonna's "X-Rated
Interview" I continued my exploration of the magazine.
At this time a good portion of The Advocate was filled with
sex ads, offering every bit of kink one could ask for. Those
ads no longer exist, at least not in that format or in that
magazine. I miss that. The end of those ads -- for me --
was the beginning of the disappearance of our Queer Identities.
The works I have chosen here all represent a vanishing
act. From the haunting images of Felix Gonzalez-Torres and
Richard Sawdon-Smith to the nowadays non-existent ACT UP
posters that I loved so much to the thousands of friends,
family and amazing artists that we have lost, MY QUEER CULTURE
The pieces, in relatively chronological order, document
my feelings and experiences on queer culture, HIV &
AIDS and our place as a community in all of that: Where
is lesbian representation among HIV/AIDS studies & statistics?
Where is Peter Hujar? Why did he have to die? Why is it
the further we come out of the closet the more our sex lives
are shoved further back inside?
Shame was taken over by anger, which has now been replaced
by complacency. Our Queer Culture MUST recognize all of
this. While we may be more visible on TV and in the national
zeitgeist, I ask, "At what cost?" I do not want
to be either Will OR Grace. I miss being subculture; I miss
people storming St. Patrick's Cathedral; I miss David Wojnarowicz
and Robert Mapplethorpe! I miss New York and the gay theatres
and a dirtier Times Square. I miss art that is organic and
happening on the sides of buildings, on streets and in dilapidated
In working with an LGBT youth population I have become
aware that information is also disappearing; urgency and
agency are disappearing; facilities, funding, resources
and good, decent caregivers are fading. Interest in HIV/AIDS
is at an all-time low. Practically gone are the days when
we were all wearing red ribbons, buying our Red, Hot &
Blue records, displaying our Safe Sex Is Hot Sex ad campaigns
in our lockers, offices, dorms and bedrooms.
While I never again want to be relegated to buy a gay newsmagazine
from an adult bookstore, I too do not want to be a sexual
eunuch; I want my cake and I want to eat it too! To quote
Larry Kramer on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of
ACT UP: "We are not crumbs; we must not accept crumbs."
Perhaps what I should say is, "I want my FULL piece
of cake and I want to eat all of it!"
This leads me back to Madonna. She has clearly had her
full piece of cake and continues to demand more (she's a
queer icon for a reason). Back in 1991, during the second
part of her "X-Rated Interview," she said "people
are afraid to say 'I wish President Bush would spend less
money on arms and more money on funding research to find
a cure for AIDS.' There just aren't enough people doing
that." Some things change, some things remain the same.
At the very least we have the images to remind us of what
was, what could have been and the things that might have
b i o g r a p h i e s
Steven Gordon is currently the HIV Services
Coordinator at the Ali Forney Center. He also works as a
consultant for Hudson Pride Connections, an LGBT community
center in Jersey City where he acts as an advisor and provides
consultation in areas of staff trainings and client issues
for the growing organization. Mr. Gordon started his work
in HIV services with Body Positive, a historic New York
City Community Based Organization and has been featured
in various newspaper and magazine articles and television
programs centered on HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues.
RJ Supa is a conceptual and performance
artist living in Brooklyn, NY. Additionally he works at
the Ali Forney Center, a homeless services agency for LGBT
The Ali Forney Foundation's mission is to help homeless
LGBT youth be safe and become independent as they move from
adolescence to adulthood. AFC is the nation's largest and
most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT
youth. The AFC goal is to provide homeless LGBT youths,
aged 16 to 24, with the support and services they need to
escape the streets and begin to live healthy and independent