Thursday, August 5, 2010

Poster of the Week

1982 Gay Olympic Games (original and censored versions)
Rob Anderson
Silkscreen, 1982
San Francisco, California

On Wednesday, August 4, 2010, Federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that California’s 2008 Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage, was “unconstitutional.” Many Proposition 8 supporters have criticized the judge’s ruling as biased because he is openly gay. Yet this George H.W. Bush appointee had been criticized by the LGBTQ community for a 1982 case where he represented the U.S. Olympic Committee against the Gay Olympic Games.

Judge Walker’s role in this 1982 lawsuit so angered the LGBTQ community and their supporters that two dozen House Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, opposed his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to the Federal Court in 1987. He was nominated again by President George H. W. Bush in 1989, and confirmed.

CSPG’s Poster of the Week graphically shows the impact of the 1982 Gay Olympic Games decision. The Gay Games is the world’s largest sporting and cultural event organized by and specifically for LGBTQ athletes, artists, musicians, and others. It welcomes participants of every sexual orientation and every skill level. Originally called the Gay Olympic Games, it was launched in San Francisco in 1982.

Less than three weeks before the inaugural Gay Olympic Games, event organizers were sued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) which claimed that the USOC had exclusive rights to the word Olympic in the United States. Defendants in the lawsuit contended that the law was capriciously applied and that if the Nebraska Rat Olympics and the Police Olympics did not face similar lawsuits, neither should the Gay Olympics. Many believed that homophobia was a motivation behind the lawsuit.

The ruling blocking the use of the name "Olympic" came down about a week after Rob Anderson had delivered the first batch of posters to the Gay Olympic Games Committee headquarters. It was a hand-screened run of 1,000. As they were only done in small batches, not that many had the word “Olympic” blacked out, probably less than 20. Since the Committee could no longer sell them in their original state, the posters went "underground" and the uncensored prints were sold to frame shops in the Castro. Both the original and censored versions are shown here.

The censored “Gay Games” poster is included in “Out of the Closet & Into the Street—Posters of LGBTQ Struggles & Celebrations” currently on display at the One Archives Gallery & Museum through September 26, 2010

626 N. Robertson Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA 90069

(entrance on El Tovar)

Gallery Hours:

Friday: 4:30-8:30

Saturday & Sunday: 1-5

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