Crossroads News

Equity & Justice Institute Hosts Talk With LGBTQ+ Artists, Advocates and Authors

Diverse group of panelists discuss art and activism in the LGBTQ+ community.
The 2022-23 Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series concluded on May 11 with a powerful panel discussion on art and activism in the LGBTQ+ community. The talk was moderated by New York Times-bestselling author, educator, artist and abolitionist Patrisse Cullors, whose work has been featured at The Broad, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, The Hammer Museum and a host of theaters, galleries and museums across the globe.

Patrisse led the panelists in a wide-ranging and at times emotional conversation. The participants were Professor Marlon M. Bailey, Ph.D., author of “Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit”; Gregorio Davila, writer and documentary filmmaker; Don Kilhefner, Ph.D., co-founder/founding director of the LA LGBT Center and the co-founder (with Harry Hay) of the Radical Faeries movement; and Bamby Salcedo, president and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition.

The panelists presented video clips illustrating the ways that the LGBTQ+ community has utilized artistry and pageantry as tools of defiance, education and self-expression. Don Kilhefner shared footage from LA’s first Pride parade in 1970, in which participants engaged in exuberant acts of guerilla theater, performing as buffoonish cops and paper-winged “fairies.” Professor Bailey presented a clip of dancers taking part in a ballroom competition and explained how the art form has its own gender and sexual identity/presentation system, liberating participants from the labels foisted upon them by society. 

Bamby Salcedo showed a video produced by the TransLatin@ Coalition featuring transgender women dressed in stunning, elaborate costumes, some reflecting their Latinx heritage, projecting beauty, creativity and self-love. Gregorio Davila screened the trailers for his documentaries “Unidad: Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos” and “LA: A Queer History.” The latter includes a segment on the impact that LGBTQ+ actors, costume designers and other creatives have had on Hollywood since the industry’s inception. He noted how the art of filmmaking can be a tool for social justice and education, shedding light on important people and events that have been marginalized and overlooked.

“My movies show our history and contributions as LGBTQ+ people,” Gregorio shared. “It’s an American story, like any other, and it deserves to be told.”