New exhibition aims to bring awareness to LGBTQ struggles

A new exhibit by Alwun house desplayed at Burton Barr Library depicts the struggles of the LGBTQ community. (Lysandra Marquez/DD)

For the next month, a new exhibition in the @Central Gallery at Burton Barr Central Library will showcase challenges that the LGBTQ community has faced in the past, present and future.

LGBTQ: Rights & Justice opened Monday, the result of a collaboration between the Alwun House Foundation and Burton Barr. Through April 22, the exhibit will display art of various media revolving around the theme of struggles that the LGBTQ community has faced.

This includes items and artifacts from the BJ Bud Memorial Archives from the Arizona Collection at Arizona State University. The collection was assembled by local LGBTQ activists and named after Harlene “BJ” Bud, a community member who helped organize the first Phoenix Pride March in the 1980s.

The exhibition coincides with other events that will be hosted at the library during the month of April, including a First Friday opening reception and a film screening and discussion.

The exhibition came together due to the willing participation of local LGBTQ organizations, such as Alwun House, and the library. Lee Franklin, spokesperson for the library, hopes that by partnering with the Alwun House Foundation, they can showcase those without a voice or platform.

“It’s a perspective and a voice that we wanted to give some platform to be able to speak out to the community… which is what libraries are here in communities, and here in society, to do,” Franklin said. “It felt like it was a meaningful partnership, and it was a worthy message to be part of sharing with the community.”

Items at the exhibit include wedding photos, personal achievements and artwork representative of the hardships the LGBTQ community has faced regarding legal issues, one of which was the right to marry. Hosting this specific exhibit at the library is part of a much larger goal for the library: to expose community members to alternative viewpoints.

(Lysandra Marquez/DD)
(Lysandra Marquez/DD)

“That is always our underlying goal. We want patrons and customers, and those members of the community, to come in and see something that is meaningful,” Franklin said. “We libraries will be that conduit the community and society and individuals can access information and exposure to different knowledge and culture.”

Kim Moody, founding director of Alwun House Foundation, said this is the first time they have collaborated with the library to put on an arts showcase like this.

“It’s giving the opportunity for the LGBT community to talk about equal justice and rights,” he said. “While we still don’t have all the rights that others have, this exhibits honors the relatively recent societal achievements that have been made by the gay community.”

Moody mentioned that Alwun House Foundation received roughly 60 submissions, of which about 30 are now on display at the @Central Gallery. While the art contained in this exhibit focuses exclusively on the struggles of one specific group, Moody says one doesn’t have to be a part of the group to understand its struggles.

“It’s about time, in the arts, that we have in Phoenix an exhibit where the focus is on the broader issues of being LGBTQ. That means the same issues of law that people deal with, and it’s not like you have to be gay to appreciate it, au contraire, you have to be human, empathetic,” he said.

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