In honor of pride month I thought I would highlight Keith Haring, an openly gay man and artist who incorporated themes of sexuality, openness and inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community, and activism for broadening the conversation surrounding AIDS. Haring, born in 1958 and having lived through Stonewall and a time period where homosexuality was illegal, as well as a time when there were misunderstandings surrounding AIDS and a lack of conversation, incorporated and let the events of those years influence much of his art. This was a very bold statement as homosexuality was illegal, but it also fit the time as support was growing and New York had its first pride parade in 1970.
There are two works of Haring’s I want to specifically highlight, a poster celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stonewall which focuses on LGBTQ+ activism, and another work titled Ignorance = Fear, which focuses on the silence surrounding AIDS.
The poster features four figures incorporated with gender symbols to symbolize lesbian and gay same sex couples. The dashes surrounding their legs energize this piece and its support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Ignorance = Fear is a less positive piece compared to the poster as it focuses on the ignorance and silence surrounding the conversation and understanding about AIDS. It features the words “Ignorance = Fear” and “Silence = Death”, a message that hoped to promote a better awareness and understanding of AIDS as well as a way to help prevent it. The figures, who are marked with an x to symbolize them having AIDS, reinforce the silence and ignorance concerning AIDS at this time as they cover their eyes, ears, and mouth. Keith Haring himself suffered and died due to AIDS complications and so this message of awareness, conversation, and prevention became important in his art.
Many of his other works incorporate themes of love, sex, and sexuality, much of which supports and embraces the LGBTQ+ community as well. Below are some more of those works that have caught my eye and which I enjoy.