Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rachel Maddow's ACT UP Boi Photo on Display till 1/3

My friends and longtime queer photo documentarians, Rick Gerharter and Jane Philomen Cleland, have a terrific joint exhibit on display only until Sunday, January 3, at the main library.

Titled "Daily and Transcendent: 25 Years of Photojournalist Portraits," the show contains fantastic images of LGBT and HIV/AIDS activism and the folks behind the organizing.  Cleland and Gerharter made wise choices about which black and white and color photographs to include showing the breadth of our communities in the past quarter century.

In addition to the photos, Cleland and Gerharter each have a glass exhibition case featuring their press passes, political buttons and stickers, along with other artifacts from the conventions, conference and protests they covered. After looking at the photos and artifacts, I came away with a fuller understanding of the work and commitment of these documentarians.

The image that most captured my attention shows a younger Rachel Maddow, from back in the day when she was a member of ACT UP/Golden Gate, in her boi phase and was snapped by Gerharter.

He also included his contact sheet from his shoot with her. Gerharter took his Maddow photos on December 24, 1994, and this is his account of how he got the photos:

"Maddow was semi-famous on the occasion of her being the first out lesbian to be a Rhodes scholar. She was visiting friends in San Francisco over the Christmas holidays. She is from Castro Valley and maybe had family there. I met her there and took the photo. Not really much more. She was in town several years ago and Bevan Dufty was planning to introduce her at a local LGBT event. I happened to run into him near my home and he mentioned Maddow. I told him about the photo, he got a copy and then gave it to her at the event. He said she was surprised and happy, but I never heard anything from her."

A 2008 profile of Maddow from The Nation shed light on her ACT UP involvement:

"She earned a degree in public policy from Stanford before beginning work with ACT UP and the AIDS Legal Referral Panel. But Maddow had trouble breaking into treatment activism, which was then the rock-star world of AIDS policy. 'It was boys’ land,' she says. 'I knew like two women total who were doing treatment activism. And I didn’t totally get it. I’m not like Barbie–‘Math is hard!’–but it was a techie world, and I didn’t feel like I could be all that helpful.'”

Be sure to catch this show at the San Francisco main library at Grove and Market Streets before its last day, January 3!

1 comment:

Michael Zonta said...

She's beautiful as a boy or a girl...