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Patronage II: The Western World since 1900  
 
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Employing life-size bronzes (painted white), Segal devised an ensemble, consisting of a standing male couple and a female couple seated on a park bench. The couples were intended to look ordinary and, thus, to emphasize the normality of same-sex relationships. The poses are subtle rather than dramatic, but they eloquently suggest tender love. One man places his hand on the shoulder of his companion, and one of the women touches the thigh of the other.

The project involved two castings of Gay Liberation--one for Sheridan Square, the other for a location (to be determined) in Los Angeles, where the Mariposa Foundation was based. By the time that Segal finished the castings in 1980, the monument had provoked fierce opposition in both New York and Los Angeles.

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Claiming that it was inappropriate in design and scale, Greenwich Village residents objected to the placement of the monument in Sheridan Square, and Catholics from throughout the metropolitan area protested it as a glorification of immorality. Furthermore, numerous gay and lesbian individuals and groups harshly criticized aspects of the project. Overlooking Voeller's intensive efforts to assign the monument to a gay or lesbian artist, many condemned the use of a "straight" artist. Perceiving the figures as sad, some claimed that the group did not provide a positive affirmation of gay life. In addition, many protested that these four European-American figures could not represent the cultural diversity of the glbtq community.

Although several New York City boards had granted permits for Segal's group, the city government prevented its installation by refusing to authorize needed landscaping in Sheridan Square. Similarly, Los Angeles refused to accept the sculpture for any site. The casting, intended for New York, was installed in a park in Madison, Wisconsin, and the version made for Los Angeles was accepted as a long-term loan by Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. Still on display on the Stanford campus, Gay Liberation has been badly damaged by vandals three times (1984, 1986, 1994), requiring that it be removed and restored. The profoundly disturbing attacks mobilized students and stimulated discussion about issues of sexual equality.

The version intended for New York was finally installed in Sheridan Square on June 23, 1992. Once again, protests were made about the sculpture on the same grounds that had been cited in 1980. In addition, some younger viewers found that the monument was too bound into the ideology of the era in which it was created. However, many individuals--both within and outside the glbtq communities--have come to appreciate Gay Liberation as an important and effective monument to same-sex love.

In contrast to the Segal project, the commission to Don Bachardy (b. 1934) was straightforward and free of controversy. In the late 1980s, Voeller asked Bachardy to produce portraits of twelve leaders in the struggle for sexual freedom--including, in addition to Voeller himself, Elaine Noble, Frank Kameny, Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin, Morris Kight, Charles Bryden, James Foster, David B. Goodstein, Jean O'Leary, Rev. Troy Perry, and Barbara Gittings.

Bachardy's direct, honest, and insightful style of portraiture seems in keeping with the ideals that Voeller embraced throughout his career. In 1995, Richard Lucik, Voeller's life partner and associate at the Mariposa Foundation, entrusted the portraits to the Human Sexuality Collection of Cornell University Library, the repository of Voeller's papers and other foundation documents.

The Homomonument

Designed by Karin Daan (b. 1944), the Homomonument (1987) in Amsterdam has become one of the most widely recognized and admired of all public memorials to gay and lesbian struggles.

This project was not marred by the sorts of protests that inhibited the realization of the Gay Liberation monuments in New York and Los Angeles. Several factors may explain the differences in the evolution of these undertakings. First of all, the Homomonument benefited from the general tolerance of sexual diversity that has prevailed in Amsterdam in recent decades. Furthermore, the monument is based upon widely recognized, abstract symbols, rather than figures representing particular racial and cultural types. In addition, from the beginning, interaction with diverse community groups was made an essential part of the process of creating the monument. Daan is an "out" lesbian, but her sexual orientation was not an issue in her selection, which was based on a competition, involving many different types of individuals.

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