The Queer Portrait Project tells the stories of people in the queer community in my paint and in their words. I am painting queer-identified people and having each person write a short bio to accompany the painting. I am painting people I know and people I don’t know. I am painting gay people, bi people, trans people, non-binary people, old people, young people, outgoing people, shy people, tall people, short people…queer people. I seek to illustrate the diversity, breadth, and variety that is the queer community. I like the thought of art used as a connection and a bridge in this tight-knit, yet also disparate community. We sometimes subdivide ourselves according age, race, gender, and class. I hope to show, in the most basic of ways -images and words- how art can be action for change. We have the power to strengthen and sustain each other: as queers, as artists, as people.

If you are interested in posing for the project, send an email to jen@jenclausen.com

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I am a recovering homophobe.
I am out but not always proud.
I am an advocate, albeit reluctantly and unwillingly.
My story is not new, unique, or untold.
I am a cliche, a stereotype, a punchline.
My sex is female.
My gender is butch.
My sexuality is lesbian.
My identity is fluid.
My head can sometimes be found in the clouds,
but my feet never leave the ground.
I am Midwest Queer.
And I am a recovering homophobe.


Born in Texas, to a Texas farmer dad and a ballet dancer mother from New Zealand. Grew up near Baltimore, with two younger brothers. Both straight with kids now, supportive and awesome. Partnered to a man I thought was a club kid who danced well and would be easy, but turned out to be a surgeon, and almost 18 years later still in love. Live on the east side of Madison with our dog Annie, our cats Pete and Sam, and two chickens, Little Red and Lucy the Chicken. I work at the University, where I first stopped feeling like a freak and learned who I could be, and my work allows me to make that possible for others.


I told someone about this project and the person asked, "What's the point?"

When I look at the artist's rendition of myself, I see someone who grew up climbing trees and riding bikes in a small, Minnesotan town. I am college-educated. I've lived abroad for a few years and speak German. I've been a teacher of English as a second language and ballroom dancing. I've worked for non-profits and I've worked for the government. I'm currently a steamfitter. I like to golf and play African drums. I'm a daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, granddaughter, and a good friend.

When you see my face and read these words, is there something there that you can identify with? For me, the Project is about connection. It is to say, "Look at me a moment. Read a brief statement about me. Find an aspect of me that is similar to something in you." Maybe you'll find that queer is not so different after all.

Friday, June 1, 2012


In my life journey, learning that I was gay made me attentive to all forms of discrimination. It led me to degrees in Women's Studies and Afro-American Studies. It has made me a passionate advocate not just for LGBT rights, but for all rights.

Being gay obligates me to fight for the rights of other as well as my own. There is no freedom, no democracy and no justice so long as it is denied to any.

I think it is critical for gay men to stand up for women's rights, to fight racism and to recognize and stand against all forms of oppression. It is together that we will build a more just society.

Monday, May 28, 2012


For me, no different from millions of others, my youth's greatest burden was the emotional pain of isolation in the closet which quickly become despair alternating with panic. (It's still a wonder to me anyone survives it.) Of course, now I realize I had it much better than most: Zero violence or even confrontations, a loving family, abundant opportunities (including growing up in a military family, living internationally, constantly moving always being the new kid in school), and a civilized environment largely free of religious pollution, etc. So in these brief reflections I find a great lesson, for in the words Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened."

For more personal detail, including How I Got from Art Major to Business Owner: http://ctbauer.com/public/view_text.php?user_id=6

Nevertheless, for many there remain uncountable misfortunes, and for those of us who have survived, it's our duty to make sure everyone else does too, principally by living openly and honorably, perhaps no other specific activism required, though anyone can see the world remains filled with ignorance, fear, danger, and risk, recent giant leaps of long overdue enlightenment by President Obama, notwithstanding.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


From the time I was born there was something quite unique about me. Unfortunately, growing up in a small town had many small minded people with very loud opinions. "Is that really a girl?" "Hey you are using the wrong bathroom" I felt destined to exist in this world alone. It wasn't until I moved to Madison and experienced such a diverse culture and acceptance that I could truly start to grow and learn about how I can be comfortable in my own skin, and that I am not alone.


Hi, my name is Jenny. Although not pictured here, I normally have teeth. I was born on the north side of Madison and moved away when I was seven. For the past 12 years, Madison has once again been my home, where I first worked as a middle school teacher and, more recently, a social worker who partners with homeless families. Despite the many things we have to be grateful for in this city, it still is not necessarily easy to be queer here. I love the potential and strength that our communities have, although, like the microcosm they are, they remain highly segregated by race, class, gender, etc. The LGBTQ Narratives group is especially important to me, as it is an example of how art can be used for activism, how our words can support and transform one other, and how we can create intentional community with the goal of social justice. I appreciate projects such as this one that highlight not only our ability to be visible as queers, but also tell the stories that allow us to see ourselves reflected in each other