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Pride month, and Richard Amsel's defining iconography

June is LGBTQ+ PRIDE MONTH, which has become a tradition in the United States following the Stonewall riots' gay liberation protests in 1969.

I wrote about it last year, but felt it was worth reiterating now:

The movement is an important theme of our documentary, as Richard Amsel himself faced many personal challenges. He grew up in a time when being gay was not only scandalous but, in many ways, even dangerous. (Lest we forget that the American Psychiatric Association didn't even declassify homosexuality as a disorder until 1973.) The devastating rise of AIDS in the early 1980s also came in the face of the Reagan era -- one of the most catastrophically cruel and homophobic periods in modern American politics. And Amsel, of course, was one of the casualties.

The struggle -- and the pain -- continue.

I've loved Amsel's work ever since I was a child, but never knew any details about the man's life (much less his sexual orientation) until 2000. Looking back, it's remarkable to see how he created so many illustrations of 20th century LGBTQ+ icons. If J.C. Leyendecker's paintings of strapping, beautiful men captured coded homosexual messages within the commercial advertising of their time, Amsel's portraits of entertainment divas -- Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Liza Minnelli, Lucille Ball, and Marilyn Monroe among them -- are comparatively bold and defiant. These women remain celebrated gay icons to this day.

I also wanted to remind everyone that, now more than ever, we need your support. I'm flying again to the east coast in 2 weeks to film more interviews in NYC and Pennsylvania -- itself a costly expense -- and additional funding will still be needed for the film's post-production, legal services, and (hopeful) distribution.

We offer a number of rewards perks/thank you gifts for your donations, too! Some new additions include:

  • Large prints on canvas (USA only)

  • An original MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME poster from RICHARD AMSEL's personal collection! (Very limited quantities)

AMSEL: ILLUSTRATOR OF THE LOST ART is a sponsored project of FRACTURED ATLAS, a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts service organization legally registered as a charity to fundraise in all 50 states. Donations through this page are fully tax-deductible under the law, unless otherwise noted.


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