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

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Just take a look at my face. That expression is what my mother always called "the look." It conveys disdain and disgust with all the subtlety of a kick to the groin. At an early age it became obvious that I had no filter on my brain. Whatever I think or feel will be betrayed by either the look on my face or the words from my mouth. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I should let this one speak for itself. However, the artist has requested that each queer portrait include a written statement by its queer subject. That would be me. Queer Martin. Hell, I've been called worse.

I'm just not sure I have anything else to say about being gay--not anything you'd be interested to read and certainly not anything you haven't heard before from lots of other queers and from this faggot in particular. Most of my life has revolved around feeling/acting/being queer--a consequence of being born gay and being born Southern and being inclined to fight the obvious results of those facts. There's never been any hiding my queerness or blending in with the normals, and at this point I wouldn't even if I could. The world let me know I was a sissy long before I had the slightest concept of sexuality. Perhaps it was inevitable that I would come out as a gay rights activist a full year before I kissed a boy for the first time. I spent a great deal of time and energy on fighting for equality, whatever that is. I've been beaten because I'm gay. I've been disowned because I'm gay. On the flip side, my queer sensibility informs the two qualities I value most in myself--intelligence and wit. I'm not Oscar Wilde or Paul Lynde, but I hold my own.

See, nothing new here. My life is like a local theater production of a Tennessee Williams play. If you don't believe me, you should meet my mother. But I digress. Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm tired of thinking about and talking about being gay. Thankfully, I may be among the last for whom being queer eclipses the other components of our identities. To quote Little Edie, "I have no makeup on... but things are getting better!" Each generation paves more of the road, and we're nearing a time when gay folks can do less paving and more walking. This is what so many of us have been fighting for--the opportunity to stop being queer and start simply being. This faggot has done enough paving for now. I'm ready to walk, so y'all better get off my runway. If you don't think I mean business, just take a look at my face.

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