The First Homosexuals won't be the last

Sun. October 16, 2022 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity 1869-1930 opened at Wrightwood 659 and runs until December 17, 2022. That won't be the last your queer eye will see of the exhibition though. Part two will return sometime in the fall of 2025. 

The team behind the massive endeavor of bringing LGBTQ+ history to the forefront through art feels strongly that instillation should fill the entire museum instead of only one floor. 

Historian Jonathan D. Katz along with associate curator Johnny Willis have teamed up with Alphawood Exhibitions to make this borrowed collection from remote parts of the world come to life. 

As ticketholders stroll the works of art they begin a journey in 1869 when the term "homosexual" was first coined in Europe. They will then continue on a trip to different countries with paintings from a variety of countries. Russia is even represented because a museum in Ukraine rescued a few pieces unbeknownst to their neighbors. 

Whether the medium is a sculpture, a painting or a movie clip, there is LGBTQ+ representation in some way running throughout this special floor of the museum. Sometimes it is the artist or subject matter and sometimes it's both! Without doing a great deal of homework or a private tour it can be easy to miss the point and background of several of the artifacts because of coding and the overall secretive theme. 

Look for the silver ball reflecting the artist's image in the painting titled Pose or how many of the naked figures are positioned from behind. There was a way of depicting queer subject matter that was disguised from straight eyes. 

You haven't seen the last of The First Homosexuals and with this much territory to cover the expansion is completely necessary. Katz mentioned that he would like South America to be represented in 2025 when he has more room to spotlight it. 

In the meantime, the public can learn crucial, forgotten history through powerful works of visual artistry. The art and artists are sometimes so hidden in the back of the closet that the meaning can get lost. Take your time and do a little homework as you explore Wrightwood 659. 

This art history may not be taught in schools for many years to come, so we as students of life should continue our education and keep this valuable history alive by coming out to celebrate and support it. With tickets as low as $15 this is no excuse not to visit 659 West Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago.

Walk-ins are not permitted so click on for an advance ticket before arrival. Vaccination cards, masks and no flash when taking photos are all currently required by the owners of the space. This First Homosexuals will definitely not be the last and the Windy City is a better place because of it!