In Brooklyn, queer history began along the waterfront, from the docks of Vinegar Hill, to the factories of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, to the seaside amusements of Coney Island. In this talk, Hugh Ryan covers 100+ years of queer Brooklyn, from Walt Whitman to WWII and beyond.
To those unfamiliar with his work, David Wojnarowicz's art can often feel raw, wild, and easy to understand. But a closer examination of his paintings, stencils, films, and writings reveals a complex multifaceted use of symbols that borders on a private language.
For the last two years, I've been developing an exhibition for NYU, about the symbols created by artist David Wojnarowicz. Using only the ephemera from his archive (and in particular, The Magic Box), this show provides a useful counterpoint to The Whitney Museum's upcoming Wojnarowicz retrospective.
I'm honored to have been invited to present on the queer history of the Brooklyn waterfront at the Brooklyn Public Library, in conjunction with their "Brooklyn Collection." The Collection features a wealth of incredible materials that I've used in my research, from the entire run of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, to photos of the police rifling through gay male brothels in the 1940s! Light refreshments will be served.
This month, I've been an artist in residence at the incredible Watermill Center, in Watermill, Long Island. On Saturday, March 3rd, I'll be presenting about my book, When Brooklyn Was Queer, and reading an excerpt about the WWII Brooklyn-brothel, Nazi-spy, gay-senator sex scandal that rocked America in 1942.
You'll also get to hear about the work of three other fantastic artists who are out here right now as well, Jayoung Chung, Molly Joyce, and Masako Miki.
In Process @ The Watermill Center invites the community to engage with our resident artists on Saturday afternoons through open rehearsals, workshops, studio visits, lectures or artist talks.
Did you know that the most famous male impersonator of the 19th century was a Brooklyn resident named Ella Wesner? Or that Brooklyn Heights had nearly a 100 year history as a gay neighborhood, Brooklyn's answer to the West Village? Or that German spies may have attempted to get secrets from American servicemen via a gay Brooklyn brothel during WWII?
I'll be talking about all of this and more at 6pm on Thursday, June 8th, at the Brooklyn Historical Society, as I discuss the research that underlies my forthcoming book (When Brooklyn Was Queer, Fall 2018, St. Martin's Press) and exhibition at BHS on Brooklyn's queer history.
To RSVP, click here. Full event information below.
From the 1800s until post-WWII's industrial decline, Brooklyn's waterfront was a refuge for working class queer people. Journalist Hugh Ryan, founder of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, pulls back the curtain to tell this history, from the military factories that gave lesbians (and all women) economic freedom, to the transgender presence at Coney Island freak shows.
The Queer Histories of Brooklyn's Working Waterfront
Thursday, June 8
Doors: 6:00 pm
Event: 6:30 pm
$5 / Free for Members
BHS Members: to reserve tickets at the member price, click on "Tickets" and enter your Member ID on the following page after clicking on "Enter Promotional Code."
REFUND POLICY Brooklyn Historical Society requires 24 hours notice before the date of the event to refund a ticket. No refunds are provided after that point. No refunds are provided on the day of the event and all subsequent days.
On Saturday, April 22nd, I will be part of a series of panels at the New York Public Library on the future of queer politics, organized by historian Martin Duberman. I'll be talking at noon on a panel entitled "Beyond Marriage," along with the incredible authors and theorists Michael Warner and Katherine Franke. A full description of the event is here.
Where Do We Go From Here? A Roundtable Discussion on Future Fronts in the Battles for Family Diversity
How can we push for greater acknowledgement of family diversity in all parts of law and society? As we’ve learned from the fight for same-sex marriage, it takes decades of small-scale, local activism before federal-level changes are even imaginable. Around the country, in a variety of ways, many individuals and organizations are already beginning to tackle this thorny issue. In this session we will stage a roundtable discussion of actual, practical steps that can be taken to move the discussion forward on this issue.
Join me as I give a special tour of "The 1970s: The Blossoming of a
Queer Enlightenment," the current exhibition at the Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art.