Older LGBTQ’s Shine in Community Art Project

Posted on 06/13/22 by Margie Sigman


Reflections [in]Visibility: The Art of Knowing Our Elders 

ASHEVILLLE -- This project began as a collaboration between AARP NC Mountain Region and the Campaign for Southern Equality. In this intergenerational project, LGBTQ members of the 50+ community celebrate their lives by sharing stories with local LGBTQ artists under age 50 to produce creative reflections including artworks, films, and photography.

This project has (at least) two objectives: 1) to address the feeling of being invisible experienced by so many in our 50+ LGBTQ communities; 2) to help different generations find common ground in storytelling and art.

As one of the younger artists, Mars Luren put it, “Being given the opportunity to connect with a peer 25 years or so my senior was a blessing. I’m grateful to Butch Thompson (the older storyteller) for offering himself up as an openhearted book, for his many good works, and for his bright and generous spirit.” 

Butch’s reaction to Mars was equally telling: “I am an open book––well, mostly––and Mars certainly learned a lot about me. They provided me with a clean slate to share my story as I see it now, because aging has a way of putting things in perspective. Mars asked the right questions and challenged a few of my thoughts about where I came from, how I got here, and how I feel about life.”

Working together across LGBTQ generations not only brought joy to the participants, it also showed how far the community has come in accepting this imortant facet of the community's identity and history. It became obvious when participants were invited to meet again and reflect on the project.

Here are the words of another young artist Liz Williams, “Often generations following Gen Jones (the generation born between 1954-1965, who as young adults bore witness to the AIDS epidemic) forget the paths forged ahead of them by their predecessors. I loved seeing this human gem more clearly and being inspired about my own path.”

Southern Equality Studios is program a nonprofit Campaign for Southern Equality that explores how the arts can be a catalyst and force in achieving LGBTQ equality across the South. See some of the results of their Reflections [in]Visibility project on this website and at their table at the Stonewall Celebration in the River Arts District Asheville on June 28.

AARP Celebrates Pride. Learn more about AARP's LGBTQ Community at www.aarp.org/pride.

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