Wichita University pulls the plug on an LGBT exhibition
Artist Genevieve Waller, pictured with one of her creations, had been given the go-ahead to mount an exhibition – “Rainbow in Reverse: Queer Kansas History” – at a Catholic university, but it was forced to cancel the event after protests by local Christians.
The exhibition, highlighting the lives of queer Kansans, was due to open last Friday at Newman University’s Steckline Gallery, but Waller was forced to search for another venue after the university caved in to homophobic intimidation.
Jean Heimann, a local Catholic writer and blogger, reportedly warned the local religious community about the exhibit in an email. Heimann compared homosexuality to “a sickness in our society” and expressed outrage over the school’s decision to “expose students to evil.”
In a statement, Kimberly McDowall Long, Newman’s Vice President for academic affairs, said that the university:
Understands that diverse perspectives, in an atmosphere in which the human dignity of each person is respected, are key to learning.
But after bigots expressed concerns about the exhibit, the school thought it was best to cancel, she said.
Over the years, Steckline shows have featured art and artists that focused on topics such as feminism, racism and other potentially challenging academic areas. Although we believe there might be some confusion regarding the purpose and content of this particular exhibit, we thought it was best to make this decision.
Kevin Clack, a junior at Newman, told HuffPost he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the school’s decision to cancel the exhibit.
Clack is the president of Kaleidoscope, a group for LGBTQ students that was formed at the university in 2017 after years of effort. He said that Newman is a welcoming place overall, but that his group has faced challenges when it has tried to support the queer community on campus.
Clack said that Kaleidoscope as an organization wasn’t previously aware of or involved in Waller’s exhibition.
While attending Newman, I’ve learned that they don’t like going against the grain. They would rather get rid of something than be a voice of change and reason. This shows the community that LGBT+ issues are not important and not taken seriously on campus.
Time and time again, they make us feel like we aren’t as much a part of the Newman community as other students.
Meanwhile it’s reported from Greece that an artwork that enraged local Christians has been pulled down and severely damaged.
Black-clad protesters in southern Athens last week tore down the red sculpture shaped like an angel and broke its wings in a fresh act of violence against an artwork critics have likened to Satan.
Protests against the 8-metre high sculpture called Phylax, which in Greek means “guardian”, have ranged from throwing white paint and spitting at it to attempting to exorcise it with a Greek priest sprinkling holy water.
It was displayed in early December in a busy area in the coastal suburb of Palaio Faliro. Protesters have included some residents, religious conservatives and supporters of far right political groups.
Late last Wednesday night a group of 10-15 hooded persons used a truck to pull it down, mayor of Palaio Faliro Dionysis Hatzidakis said.
“It’s wings are now broken,” said Hatzidakis who has filed a lawsuit.
It has been severely damaged. So, if we don’t like something we destroy it … for political purposes?
He suspected the attackers were from the far-right. He said they threatened to hurt an eye-witness if he alerted authorities. If the sculpture can be repaired it will be reinstalled, a spokesman for the mayor said.
The sculpture was created by well-known Greek artist Kostis Georgiou who has exhibited both at home and in other countries. He told Enikos.gr that Phylax was transferred to a safe place and that he hopes:
The evil shall not prevail. All this violence against the sculpture since the first moment it was installed has left me speechless. It should remain down on the ground as a memorial of irrational rationale.