A visit to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, which is located in SoHo and dedicated to the art of the LGBTQ community.

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> NEXT, WE VISIT THE ONLY MUSEUM IN THE WORLD THAT EXCLUSIVELY EXHIBITS AND PRESERVES THE ART OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.

THE LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM OF ART BEGAN 50 YEARS AGO WITH AN EXHIBITION IN THE SOHO LOFT OF COLLECTORS CHARLES LESLIE AND FRITZ LOHMAN.

SURPRISED BY THE SHOW'S POPULARITY, THE COUPLE REALIZED THERE WAS A NEED WITHIN THE GAY COMMUNITY TO HAVE THEIR WORK EXHIBITED AND UNDERSTOOD.

THEY FOUNDED THE LESLIE-LOHMAN GAY ART FOUNDATION IN 1987, WHICH WAS ACCREDITED AS THE LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY AND LESBIAN ART IN 2016.

THIS OCTOBER, THE MUSEUM DROPPED 'GAY AND LESBIAN' FROM ITS NAME TO BE MORE INCLUSIVE OF THE DIVERSE COMMUNITY.

AROUND THE SAME TIME, THE MUSEUM ANNOUNCED A $7 MILLION CAPITAL CAMPAIGN TO CREATE A COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EDUCATION CENTER, AS WELL AS A RESEARCH LIBRARY AND ART ARCHIVE.

THESE EXPANSIONS WILL ALLOW THE MUSEUM TO CONTINUE TO SERVE A GROWING ARTISTIC AND SCHOLARLY COMMUNITY.

'NYC ARTS' SPOKE WITH THE MUSEUM'S FOUNDER, CHARLES LESLIE, AND THE MUSEUM'S DIRECTOR, GONZALO CASALS, ABOUT THE STORY BEHIND THIS VERY SPECIAL MUSEUM.

I THINK WHEN I WAS 7 OR 8, MY FATHER PURCHASED A SET OF THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA.

AND BEING AN INCIPIENT GAY CHILD, I DISCOVERED GRECO-ROMAN SCULPTURE AND BECAME OBSESSED WITH IT.

AND THAT OBSESSION FOR FIGURATIVE IMAGERY NEVER CHANGED THROUGHOUT MY LIFE.

IF YOU GREW UP GAY IN THE 1930s, '40s AND '50s, YOU HAD TO BE AN ACTIVIST AUTOMATICALLY.

BY LAW, IT WAS ILLEGAL TO SERVE A HOMOSEXUAL IN A PUBLIC TAVERN.

FRITZ WAS AN ELEGANT MAN.

HE WAS 11 YEARS OLDER THAN I.

I WAS 29 AND HE WAS 40 AND LIGHTNING STRUCK.

SO WE WERE TOGETHER FOR THE NEXT 48 YEARS.

ONE OF THE MANY THINGS THAT BONDED US WAS THAT WE DISCOVERED WE BOTH HAD SMALL, DISCREET BUT INTERESTING COLLECTIONS OF ESSENTIALLY HOMOEROTIC ART.

WHEREVER WE WENT, WE LOOKED AND WE FOUND IT, SOMETIMES IN VERY EXTRAORDINARY, UNLIKELY PLACES.

A LA MICKEY ROONEY AND JUDY GARLAND, WE SAID, HEY, LET'S PUT ON A SHOW.

AND WE CALLED I THINK 13 DIFFERENT ARTISTS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND SAID, LISTEN, WE'RE HAVING A WEEKEND SHOW NEXT MONTH, WHICH WAS JUNE OF 1969, OF HOMOEROTIC ART.

AND IF YOU'D LIKE TO SUBMIT SOMETHING, PLEASE DO.

WELL, WE GOT 13 SUBMISSIONS, 2 OF WHOM WERE WOMEN.

BY THE WEEKEND, THE END OF THE WEEKEND, WE HAD OVER 300 PEOPLE COMING IN AND OUT AND EVERY SINGLE PIECE HAD SOLD.

AND WE THOUGHT, HMM, THAT'S REVELATORY.

A FEW DAYS LATER, THE STONEWALL THING HAPPENED.

AT 2:30 IN THE MORNING, A FRIEND IN THE VILLAGE CALLED AND SAID, YOU'VE GOT TO COME TO THE VILLAGE RIGHT AWAY.

AND I SAID, CRAIG, IT'S 2:00 IN THE MORNING.

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

HE SAID, YOU GOT TO COME NOW.

I CAN'T TALK.

WE GOT UP AND WALKED UP THERE AND IT LOOKED LIKE A WORLD RIOT WAS GOING ON.

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE STORMING INTO THE STREETS.

THIS FIRST SHOW WAS SO SUCCESSFUL, WE DID IT AGAIN THE NEXT YEAR, 1970.

AND THEN THAT WAS HUGELY SUCCESSFUL, SO WE SHOWED MORE ARTISTS, SOLD MORE WORK.

AND THAT'S WHEN WE ESTABLISHED THE LESLIE-LOHMAN GAY ART FOUNDATION.

IN THE BEGINNING WE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT WAS.

WE JUST THOUGHT, WELL, IT'S SOMETHING GOING AROUND LIKE THE COMMON COLD OR SOMETHING.

AND THEN A FRIEND BECAME TERRIBLY ILL AND WAS DEAD IN SIX WEEKS.

AND THAT RIVETED US.

AND FROM THAT MOMENT ON WE FOUND OURSELVES AT MEMORIALS AND AT BEDSIDES AND IN HOSPITALS.

WE FOUND OURSELVES COLLECTING THE ESTATES OF DEAD ARTISTS.

AND WE TRIED TO SAVE WORK, WHICH WE SUCCEEDED IN DOING IN A NUMBER OF CASES, BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH TO COVER EVERYTHING.

AN ARTIST CALLED EDWARD HOCHSCHILD WHO HAD MADE A BEAUTIFUL WORK, A WOODEN CROSS, LIKE, PROBABLY FIVE FEET TALL.

HE HAD MADE SMALL HOLES AND IN THOSE HOLES HE WOULD INSERT BLOOD VIALS.

AND INSIDE OF THOSE GLASS BLOOD VIALS, HE WOULD PUT DIFFERENT ELEMENTS THAT WOULD MAKE UP A DAY IN HIS LIFE.

WHEN THE ARTIST PASSED AWAY, THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS WERE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO WITH THE WORK.

THEY DECIDE TO DONATE THEIR WORK TO THE MUSEUM.

BUT THE CROSS WAS, BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE AND BECAUSE OF THEM, ITS FRAGILITY, WAS REALLY DIFFICULT TO TRANSPORT.

SO THE ONLY OPTION THEY HAD TO TRANSPORT THE WORK FROM THE WEST VILLAGE TO THE MUSEUM, THE FOUNDATION IN SOHO WAS A GROUP OF FRIENDS CARRYING THE CROSS ON THEIR BACKS.

AND I FEEL LIKE WHILE IT'S EXTREMELY SAD, IT'S ALSO A BEAUTIFUL METAPHOR FOR THE WORK THAT NO ARTIST AND THE COMMUNITY AND THE MUSEUM WERE DOING TO PRESERVE LGBT CULTURE IN A MOMENT OF SO MUCH DEVASTATION.

WE MOVE FORWARD TO THE EARLY 2000s.

WE START TRANSITIONING TO A MUSEUM AND REALLY START EXPANDING OUR MISSION, PAYING ATTENTION TO THE EXPERIENCE FROM AN INTERSECTIONAL PERSPECTIVE, NOT ONLY YOUR SEXUAL PREFERENCE OR THE WAY YOU PRESENT YOUR GENDER, BUT YOUR RACE, ETHNICITY, YOUR CLASS, YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS, AND HOW ALL THOSE THINGS, YOU KNOW, MAKE YOUR EXPERIENCES UNIQUE.

NOT ONLY YOU CAN COME AND SEE THINGS HANGING ON THE WALLS, BUT YOU CAN, IF YOU'RE AN ARTIST, YOU CAN GET A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT, OR YOU CAN ACCESS A WRITING WORKSHOP.

IF YOU'RE A STUDENT, THEN YOU CAN COME EITHER WITH YOUR CLASSROOM OR WITH YOUR GSA CLUB TO THE MUSEUM AND LEARN, YOU KNOW, FROM THE EXHIBITIONS AND, YOU KNOW, BEING ENGAGED BY OUR EDUCATORS.

SO WE'RE JUST CONSTANTLY THINKING OF WAYS IN WHICH DIFFERENT MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY CAN FIND DIFFERENT ENTRY POINTS TO THE MISSION OF THE MUSEUM AND TO THE CONTENT THAT IS HANGING ON OUR WALLS.

WHEN I CAME TO THE MUSEUM, THE MUSEUM IS IN SOHO, IT'S A LANDMARK NEIGHBORHOOD.

THERE'S ALSO ONLY SO MUCH SIGNAGE THAT WE CAN PUT THAT SAYS, YOU KNOW, THERE'S AN LGBTQ MUSEUM HERE IN THIS CORNER.

I SEE MUSEUMS AS PLATFORMS OF POWER.

AND I WAS LIKE, HOW ARE WE GOING TO USE THIS POWER THAT WE HAVE IN OUR HANDS?

THIS WAS A FEW MONTHS AFTER THE ELECTION OF PRESIDENT TRUMP.

AND I HAD SEEN HOW YOUNGER GENERATIONS OF QUEER PEOPLE STARTED USING THE DIALECTIC OF DEATH TO BRING ATTENTION TO SO MANY OF OUR CIVIL RIGHTS BEING TAKEN AWAY.

COINCIDENTALLY, I REALIZED THAT IT WAS THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF THE POSTER, SO WE SPOKE WITH THE SILENCE EQUALS DEATH COLLECTIVE.

AND WE SAID, WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO RETHINK THE ELEMENTS OF THE POSTER ON THE FACADE OF THE MUSEUM?

THEY THOUGHT WE WERE CRAZY, BUT AT THE SAME TIME THEY GOT REALLY EXCITED.

AND THAT'S HOW OUR QUEER POWER PUBLIC ART FACADE INSTALLATION STARTED.

YOU FAST FORWARD TO 2019, IS THE 50th YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE MUSEUM, OF THE STONEWALL UPRISING, AND WE DECIDED TO WORK WITH AN ARTIST CALLED JOAN WITH AN ARTIST CALLED JOAN BIREN, WHO GOES BY J.E.B.

WHO HAS BEEN A FILMMAKER AND PHOTOGRAPHER, A PIONEER, ACTIVIST.

SHE CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF GOING THROUGH HER ARCHIVE AND LOOKING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS OF DIFFERENT MOMENTS OF THE MOVEMENT.

ON ANY GIVEN DAY BETWEEN NOW AND MAY, 2020, IF YOU WALK IN FRONT OF OUR MUSEUM, YOU'RE GOING TO SEE IMAGES THAT REPRESENT PEOPLE EITHER FIGHTING FOR RIGHTS, COMMEMORATING LOVED ONES THAT PASSED AWAY, CELEBRATING PRIDE, BEING PROUD OF THEIR GAY CHILDREN, AND SO MANY OTHER MOMENTS THAT REALLY BRING A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO THE MOVEMENT AND TO THE LIVES AND THE LGBTQ EXPERIENCE.

EVERYTHING GAY WAS SO FORBIDDEN AND SO FROWNED ON, I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE TO LIVE AN UNDERGROUND LIFE FOREVER.

IF A PIECE OF ART IS WONDERFUL, THERE'S NOTHING IN ANY PART OF IT TO BE ASHAMED OF.

ANYWAY, NOW IT'S A MUSEUM AND NOW WE'RE HERE TO STAY.

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