Artist Brad McDermott recalls that in his high school sex ed class in Kitchener, Ontario, heterosexual intercourse was the only form of sex that was taught. Now on display at the John B. Aird Gallery at Bay and Wellesley, his two works, Health Class: Anal Sex Diagram (2014) and Health Class: Top/Bottom (2014), explore the realities of the gay sex education many never received.
But the face of sex education is changing. With Premier Kathleen Wynne’s new sex ed curriculum slated for integration in the fall, institutional ideas surrounding sex and the LGBTQ community are becoming more progressive, and are slowly catching up to the needs of students.
Curated by Kevin Cherry, Binh Lu, Sarah Munro, Steph Rogerson, and Syrus Marcus Ware, the Queer Landscapes Queer Journeys exhibit explores the lived experiences of 30 LGBTQ artists, friends, and families from across Ontario.
In Justin De Lima’s piece, Chega de Saudade (2015), Lima captures a portrait of his grandfather on particle board while beside it sits a small, framed print his grandfather and male lover bought together while in Mexico. Lima writes of the piece: “My grandfather was in the closet up until his death of AIDS and his frustrations (or rather, my interpretation of what he must have felt at the time) reflect my own coming to terms with my queerness.”
In Fiona Legg’s Ain’t It Just Like Rain (2015), layers of “danger” and “caution” tape are hung interspersed over a woven green tapestry, reflecting the current state of the LGBTQ experience represented by the three colours of the traffic light: red, yellow, and green.
In a 2015 digital painting by Shane Patrick McClurg, Cool Kids captures a common struggle faced by kids, teens, and adults alike—that everyone, regardless of sex or gender, social status, or sexual orientation, is hurt by bullying.
The pieces in this touching and emotional exhibit reflect the diverse range of themes and issues very commonly faced by LGBTQ individuals. From issues surrounding acceptance and coming out, to lost loves, to living with AIDS and the struggles of facing mortality, Queer Landscapes Queer Journeys captures the lives of LGBTQ folk not only within our own communities but the shared experience around the world.