Proposition 8, was a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment intended to ban same-sex marriage. It passed during the 2008 election when Barack Obama became President.
The rallies protesting against this measure were some of the biggest I’d seen in the Los Angeles. One in particular was held one night in Los Feliz, where I have to think thirty thousand people showed up to march around the local neighborhoods. While walking through the crowds I noticed these two young men painting protest signs. One looked over to the other and said, “we fags are the new niggers.” This floored me because I’ve always seen gays and blacks somewhat on the same liberal team. Maybe I hadn’t been paying attention, but infighting within these communities seemed rare enough for me to take notice when I heard him say what he did. The gays were pissed at the blacks.
Now I understood why this individual said what he did, I just wanted him to validate what I was thinking, so I asked. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know the two young men were gay, he did say “we gays.” He told me the reason he said what he did was because the gay community came out in force in support of the black man for president, but the black community didn’t answer in kind in support of the gay community in their fight against prop 8. If anything this was the black community showing their disdain for gays. So in a sense the gay community were now the ones having to take a seat at the back of the bus.
Because the two were in the process of making protest signs, I thought it would be powerful to make signs that read what I’d heard, ‘FAG THE NEW NIGGER.’ My only question was who would be bold enough to carry them?
The next day I went back to my studio and did just that, I made a few pieces. The first is made up of two parts, a stencil I can use to spray paint the message out on the street. The second, the framed back piece, was a collage of images depicting victims who were violently attacked for simply being gay. With the stencil on you only see the photos of those who had been violently assaulted. When the stencil is removed a field of flower is revealed. My way of showing their beauty and innocence.