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You can find anything on 42nd Street

I'm thrilled to have been invited to curate with artist and curator Arthur Bruso, an exhibition to honor the memory of LGBTQIA+ advocate Georgia Brooks for the Dineen Hull Gallery at Hudson County Community College. Each year HCCC hosts "The Georgia Brooks Stonewall Celebration Project." This year we will be presenting an exhibition entitled A World Where We Belong. The show is an open call to artists. We're especially encouraging LGBTQIA+ identifying artists to submit artwork and or artifacts.

Our inspiration for the exhibition comes from a story Georgia Brooks would tell. As a young woman she was looking for something that would validate her awareness of her identity. She had heard that you could find anything on 42nd Street in New York City. So, she set out to find some books — books that she might somehow relate to as a lesbian. What she found where pulp novels that traded in stereotypes and a prevailing sense of internalized shame. One of those novels was Carla. The cover read, “to the world a lass, to her lovers butch, to herself tramp.” In a HCCC interview Georgia Brooks said, “It’s unfortunate that she felt herself a tramp, because for me she’s an example.” Ms. Brooks found the books, “helped me to not feel isolated and gave me hope that I might find a lesbian, or some lesbians, so eventually I found a lot of them. So, those were the days.”

The LGBTQIA+ community, and minorities of every stripe continue to struggle to find cultural touchstones that resonate; to find ourselves reflected in the culture at large. When we discover or discern a hint that there are others like ourselves, sometimes these messages are coded, discreet or even far from admirable and supportive of our sense of identity. But, even a flawed representation gives us hope, as Ms. Brooks had found. This exhibition is an exploration of the myriad ways we’ve identified or found ourselves reflected in the world and made a place for ourselves.

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