It’s your last week to catch The Piers: Art and Sex along the New York Waterfront, the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the gay appropriation of the Hudson River docks during the ’70s and ’80s. Curated by Jonathan Weinberg with Darren Jones, the racy, bittersweetly nostalgic show runs through July 8 at at NYC’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
Gay history is so hot right now.
…what was happening at the Hudson Piers in 1971 was a revolution. The Stonewall riots in 1969 (the same year MoGLA founders Charles Leslie and his partner Fritz Lohman hosted their first exhibition in their New York loft) broke the doors open for a visible gay culture. The dilapidated piers below 14th Street on the Hudson River became open country for gay men to sunbathe naked, cruise, and screw; the sexual liberation spurred murals and graffiti, photo shoots and scripted pornography. “The Piers” documents the vibrant life inside the decaying waterfront: gay men cruising, gay men holding and grabbing and posing, and the art spread along crumbling walls that witnessed it all.
It’s hard to imagine today, with so many LGBT role models broadcast on TV and online, but for years the IRS would withhold nonprofit status for any and all art galleries with the usage of “gay” in its name.