A gay conservative blogger buddy of mine who I met through organizing global protests in July 2006 on the one-year anniversary of Iran hanging two gay teenagers, Christopher Aqurette, runs a blog from his home in Sweden, written in English. This week he wrote about a local daily's refusal to print a photo of three lesbians in an erotic and tasteful studio-posed shot:
One of Sweden’s largest newspapers, Sydsvenska Dagbladet, refuses to publish this picture of three lesbian women. However, only a few days earlier, the same newspaper published a picture of an erect penis. The newspaper spokesperson motivates the decision with concern for gay people. I suppose it is better for gay people not to be seen in public than for gay-rights organizations to have their campaigns published for everyone to see. Good gays hide in the closet.
The ad is part of a lesbian visibility campaign from the RFSL, Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, one of the oldest gay orgs in the world.
After looking for the penis picture Christopher reported ran in the paper and not finding it, I asked him for the link to the article. He replied:
On January 14, the newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet ran an article illustrated with a "penis picture" by artist Andres Serrano. (It only appears in the paper edition.) I didn't really think much about it at the time, but when I later learned that the same newspaper refuses to print the picture of the three semi-naked women I thought it a bit odd. This is not normally a newspaper afraid of nudity, but now it said no to paid advertisement for a health campaign by gay-rights group RFSL because of this quite harmless picture. In a way, it was a good thing. The campaign got more attention because of this.
I scanned the picture for you. It was published in the paper edition on January 14. The online edition of the article is here.
Many thanks, Christopher, for doing me this favor. Now I can share with everyone the penis image that was acceptable to the editors.
The world could do with more photos of lesbians loving each other appearing in newspapers, and I would like to see American gay groups follow the lead of the Swedes and create social marketing campaigns featuring lesbians nurturing and touching.
And the prudish Swedish editors should be reminded of one of the most iconic woman-loving-woman images of the modern age. It's from the great Ingmar Bergman's classic film "Persona," made in 1966, and is in the same class as the RFSL photograph.