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BCAE’s newest exhibition celebrates 40 years of Boston's LGBT Pride

Posted by Alex Pearlman  May 9, 2012 11:31 AM

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gay_liberation_TNGG.jpgBy Lisa Hagen

This isn’t just your average wine and cheese party. To celebrate their upcoming exhibition, the Boston Center for Adult Education will be hosting “Sip the Rainbow,” a cocktail reception that will be held four days after the opening of two Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) pride exhibits.

On May 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at BCAE on 122 Arlington Street, there will be a variety of Grey Goose drinks in different colors to symbolize the gay pride flag. Alejandro Alvarez, lead bartender for The Ki Bar, has concocted three complementary, signature drinks – for a $10 donation.

Marking the 42nd year of the Boston Pride parade, the exhibition coincides with this celebration and traces its transformation in the city since 1970. BCAE will showcase two exhibits from May 14 to June 31: “Pride: 40 Years of Protest & Celebration” and “Fierce Pride: 1992.”

“We are extremely excited to host this exhibit and to have a lot of people come into the Center,” Executive Director Susie Brown said. “It is a very important historical piece, especially with 40 years of pride celebration, and with the timing, this is really an honor.”

In conjunction with The History Project, which provided the archives, documents, and photographs, the “40 Years” exhibit tracks the history behind pride in Boston and its development from a small front that participated in a Vietnam War protest, to a widely supported and attended march throughout the city.

Fierce Pride: 1992, which displays Joel Benjamin’s never-before-seen portraits, documents the diversity and individuality of LGBTQ individuals in Boston. In 1992, he attended the city's annual pride rally and photographed people individually or in groups against a white backdrop, which was monumental since many people in the past used to march with bags over their faces.

Clark Crowley, BCAE’s program manager, is in charge of the creative arts programming, which deals with the gallery that displays a new exhibition every two month. Regarding the pride exhibition, he has worked primarily with the development of the curatorial vision, installation dates, and promotion.

“I’m very optimistic people will be coming in everyday to see the exhibit,” Crowley said. “It is a really historic look at pride from then until now, and I think also people who have been living here and active will be proud of strides that have been made.”

To connect the programming of the gallery with the art courses offered by the center, BCAE “opens its doors to every different community in Boston” and utilizes its space as a resource that is free to the public. As someone who grew up near Boston and attended Emerson College, Crowley has personal ties to the LGBT community, but said he did not know what life was like then.

Board Member Stephen Nonack, who has been working with The History Project for over 25 years, will be curating the exhibition along with Libby Bouvier, who is one of the founding members of the group. The History Project is a fully volunteer, non-profit organization, so the group has worked closely with BCAE due to a smaller staff and limited resources.

With the first pride march on June 1970 in New York City, Boston had its own the following year against the Vietnam War and its first official march in 1971. The “40 Years” exhibition is a documentation of pride, but some pieces have a more artistic tone, Nonack said.

Benjamin’s portraits have their own space in the gallery as the “jewel in the crown.” Along with the “juxtaposition of the iconic images,” there will also be a panel forum discussing pride during “the wake of the movement” in early June.

“For us, showcasing the collection also showcases pride itself as an important form for representing political, health, and cultural issues in LGBT community,” Nonack said. “But also the anxiety that goes along with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in our society.”

Photo courtesy of The History Project.

About Lisa -- I'm a Boston University sophomore and Jersey girl majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. I currently intern at the Dorchester Reporterand have written for several other publications during the past few years. I'm interested in politics, art, and traveling, and I'll be studying in Washington, D.C., during the upcoming fall semester.

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