19 October 2011

Why Yes, I AM That Kind of Girl

Mia and I invited someone over to our apartment recently, and this involved the usual bout of heavy cleaning to get ready for visitors. This wasn’t someone we knew well, so we took special care to be careful about what was hanging around in plain sight, like if I really had put away the collection of purses that I sometimes leave by the couch. After the buzzer rang and they were on their way up, I sort of imagined myself seeing the apartment through their eyes, and I realized: It’s pretty gay up in here.

That in turn reminded me of how Kate Clinton “straightens up” before her family visits. Even if you didn’t realize that the abstract art on the walls is about gay bullying, there is the pulp calendar that declares “I Heart Brooklyn Girls”.

The books on the shelves include Out Plays, Surpassing the Love of Men (for godsake),
David Kopay’s biography, It Gets Better, an academic treatise on homophobia, etc.

Kitschy iconography including Elvis and the Virgin Mary done up in glitter, and an image of Audrey Hepburn riding a scooter. Shotglasses on the bar feature provocative close-ups of women saying things like “Let’s ignore our mothers’ well-meant advice.”

A vintage Victorian stereoscope featuring frolicking women. FYI, a stereoscope is kind of an art geek/history buff thing...like early 3D...two color images side by side on the same thick cardboard. They are meant to fit into a special viewing mechanism and the slight variation in the two images produces a 3D effect.

Joan Crawford lives in the kitchen, shilling for Pepsi. Which we don’t drink. Love Joan though.

For good measure, there is an insanely three-dimensional (it sticks out almost an inch from the wall) Liberace magnet placed near the front door. It was a present from the Liberace Museum in Vegas, of course, and shows him strutting in a patriotic red-white-and-blue ensemble that reveals his bare, hairy knees. The usual cape, sparkly shoes, even the knee-high argyle socks and baton seem almost de rigeur by comparison.

All of this flashed before my eyes and I wondered how anyone hides who they are. We love our apartment, and our life, and we wouldn’t change anything. We live in New York; we don’t have to. But if just a few details were different...my 92-year old friend Loraine lived with her partner Mary for 44 years, pretending to occupy separate bedrooms, trying to maintain the illusion that they were just roommates. I can’t imagine living that way, trying so hard to leave no trace of something so important. Looking around our apartment, I see how being gay reflects itself in ways big and small, in the way we see each other, in the way we appreciate pop culture, even in the kind of glass we like to drink out of...

-Maura McGurk

Maura makes artwork about issues related to the LGBT/queer/gay experience, especially gay bullying. Take a stand against gay bullying by checking out her work, liking it on Facebook, or commenting on her blog.


  1. Brilliant post; for whatever reason, I think the same thing before stop overs or get togethers. What the hell for?

  2. Thanks! This was the first time it occurred to me, but I agree: why??


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