10.20.17 / New York/ New York

A New Exhibit Explores The Beauty And Pain Of The Peruvian LGBTQ Community

Finding power in spite of persecution

[Virgenes de la Puerta, Carol]

The Museum of Sex has had an interesting year. Their exhibits have always been a mix between historical and kooky (look at their ‘bouncy boob house’ from earlier this year), but it has always occupied a niche space in the art world. However this year has been different, and the shows have never felt more relevant. Social upheaval and the emotive responses from the newly politically conscious have paved way for artists and artwork to question the inanity of our divisive ways. In the summer, The Museum of Sex hosted a show exploring the ‘Female Gaze,’ highlighting the often-overlooked female perspective in matters of sexuality. Now, there’s a new exhibit titled Canon (Virgenes de la Puerta, Padre Patria, Anda, Los Chicos) exploring the LGBTQ culture of Peru, and it’s as beautiful as it is sobering.

[Los Chicos, Freddy]

The exhibit (the first bilingual exhibit for the museum) showcases defiant Peruvians who are forced to confront the hateful, and all-too-frequent violent attitudes towards anything outside of a heteronormative lifestyle. The photography is vibrant, clear, and powerful. There are no special effects or superfluous concepts masking the images; the portraits, primarily nudes, are enough of a statement. The mansion setting makes the subjects stand out even more, forcing the viewers to consider nothing more than this: they’re just human beings, and they won’t hide themselves out of fear.

[Virgenes de la Puerta, Marcielo]

Religious imagery is also a major theme in the show. Many countries in South America have a religious leaning, and that proves to be conflicting for the LGBTQ community. Many want to uphold their faith, even when it inherently ostracizes them. This is where the exhibit hits on another theme: the power in this community is that men and women constantly have to take ownership of their own lives, creating their own rules and identities when society fails them.

(1) BarbozaGubo&Mroczek_Padre Patria
Yessica C.
Tied, beaten, gang-raped by four men and sodomized with objects; she was left to die on farmland. Her screams were heard the following morning by a passerby.
Pisco, Ica, Perú. 2015

While there is beauty to be found all over the walls, the center of the room features a video installation titled Padre Patria (Fatherland). In it photographs of quiet towns and streets are displayed, each one the setting of a violent or murderous act committed towards gay or trans people. These dark events are unseen and hidden under the normalcy of the otherwise undistinguishable locations. It only makes the images more haunting, as these crimes occurred in the recent past to people as young as 15 years old, purely on the basis of their identity. It’s a somber reflection of society, both here and in parts of the world where acceptance is still out of reach.

In that Canon (Virgenes de la Puerta, Padre Patria, Anda, Los Chicos) is both poignant and necessary, as a way of reminding us of the challenge people face on a daily basis, along with the resilience they embody to do so.

Canon (Virgenes de la Puerta, Padre Patria, Anda, Los Chicos) is on view at the Museum of Sex until January 15th 2018

(4) BarbozaGubo&Mroczek_Padre Patria
Luis Enrique Ramírez Ortiz, 15
suicide attributed to bullying|2013
Luis, who was thought to be gay, was incessantly bullied by peers and his family, which included the excessive use of anti-gay slurs at school and in the home. He endured verbal and physical assaults from his sister, who was reportedly the prime abuser within the home, and who was known to have had thrown urine on him. He hanged himself with a cable from the ceiling rafters in his home on July 22, 2013.
Las Acacias, San Martín de Porres, Lima, Perú. 2016