I am currently in the process of touring The Pansy Project the beginnings of which are described here), my aim is to spread the word of the project and hope that people who experience verbal homophobic abuse think first of planting a pansy rather than being forced into some internal dialogue which in my own experience can evoke a sense of shame, anger, embarrassment and a profound sense of powerlessness.
It does not matter to me whether people are moved to act on the process of planting a pansy, it is simply intended to act as an internal strategy that is an optional tool to assist in the processing of this albeit relatively minor crime. Though the effects can be profound it does not compare to the physical gay bashing and murders that still frequently occur.
It is this that I eventually have moved on to explore as a result of my recent trip to
I realised that I appeared not to be a target in New York as I seem to be in
I was disheartened to see a gamut of crimes that had been recently reported and there were some high profile attacks, notably and most recently a well known Drag Queen performer Kevin Avaince who had been badly beaten outside a well known gay club on 10th Street; The Phoenix. The attack had received a lot of press attention, the crimeswere referenced in such a way as to lead an interested party to other recent homophobic attacks so I began to follow this trail of abuse through the
Statistical information that accompanied the reports also revealed that in
There were other significant cultural revelations appearing whilst I was In New York a high profile politician had ‘come out’ on the Oprah show and had got front page coverage in the local press. This still highlighted that despite the apparent developments and ‘tolerance’ of gayness it is still head-line news when a luminary of any sort is outed.
The other significant location that I wanted to mark was Stonewall Inn, I had to my shame only known of its name and understood that it was important to gay history but I did not know much of the details. So I took the opportunity to visit the location and plant a pansy to memorialise the importance of the actions that had occurred there and the activity the event had instigated to try and encourage others to learn more about it.
This response marks a development of The Pansy Project and as I continue to research and develop the work, in Crate in Margate late October and in London at the Transition Gallery, in November I will endeavour to use this space to reveal what I learn through the ongoing process.
Below, (left) speaking to a visitor to The Pansy Project session at the McCaig-Welles Gallery in Williamsburg, New York and (right), planting a pansy on off 10th Avenue in Manhatten for R.J. Supa. And top a Pansy planted for Edgar Garzon in Jackson Heights.