Location: Lexington, KY, United States
My project Michael imagines the history of gay men living in rural western Massachusetts, USA in the era between the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 and the death of Rock Hudson by AIDS in 1985. Specifically, I trace the experiences of my uncle, an artist whose adult life was bookended by these landmark events in LGBTQ history. LGBTQ histories are often forgotten, if not actively erased, and rural communities are frequently the last to redress them. My work reclaims one of those stories, helping to frame an otherwise outcast history while working to support issues of acceptance and understanding more broadly in the present. Quieted and forgotten histories become exiled truths. This work is an attempt to resurrect one of those stories.
In this work, I reenact known events and memories, reconstruct shared histories, and speculate on experiences Michael might have had. The project incorporates and interprets ephemera—the things Michael left behind when he died—and his own 8mm filmstrips. Using Michael’s possessions and artwork allows me to materialize him, and lets him speak for himself, grounding my imagined images. Part documentary, this work seeks answers, but its preoccupation is with the unknowable, with visualizing the hopes and fears that continue to resonate within our family and community.