Feminists to Feministas: Women of Color in Prints and Posters

March 2016 – July 2016

Curated by Amy Sueyoshi and Lisbet Tellefsen

“Feminists to Feministas” displayed 29 posters from the 1970s to the 1990s that visually trace the power of lesbians, bisexuals, and transwomen of color who rallied for sexual freedom and economic justice in the fight against racism, sexism, and imperialism. The stunning prints and posters drawn from the GLBT Historical Society’s enormous poster collection were specifically chosen to illuminate the role of women of color in the evolving cultural messaging of queer prints and posters. Co-curators Amy Sueyoshi and Lisbet Tellefsen selected images to trace both the changing aesthetic of posters and their significance for queer women of color.

The distinctly political images defy conventional standards of femininity; speak out against legislative abuses that disproportionately affect communities of color; and celebrate the health, beauty, and creativity of queer African American, Latina, and Asian Pacific Islander women. Viewers experienced the power of Audre Lorde, Kitty Tsui, and Pepper from BurLEZk; witnessed the activism of lesbians and gays against intervention in Central America; and considered the dyke version of the seductive Calvin Klein underwear advertisements of the 1990s.

The prints illustrate how women of color have created community and initiated change through the building of coalitions across ethnicity and gender for multi-issue organizing.

“The GLBT Historical Society’s poster collection represents a remarkable time capsule of our communities’ history,” said co-curator Lisbet Tellefsen. “The collection is vast in both depth and scope and visually chronicles much of our history: from arts and culture to sex, politics and beyond. I look forward to mining this rich collection for years to come and am excited to offer this small glimpse into the collection with our initial exhibition.”

Added co-curator Amy Sueyoshi, “So invisible are queer women of color in gay scenes of the Castro, in marriage equality, and in the countless shows that are cropping up with queer characters. Yet so tirelessly do queer women of color work for justice, scrubbing on their hands and knees until their knuckles become raw. I wanted to put together a show that underscored the tremendous cultural and political work that they do without recognition or reward. To them — to us — I dedicate this exhibition.”

 

About the Curators

Lisbet Tellefsen has been an archivist, collector and event producer in the Bay Area for more than three decades. She was publisher of Aché: A Black Lesbian Journal from 1989 to 1995. She frequently lends works from her collection of posters and fine arts reflecting African American radical organizing and other subjects for display in exhibitions around the United States. In addition, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) have acquired materials from Tellefsen for their permanent collections.

Amy Sueyoshi is a historian specializing in sexuality, gender and race. She serves as interim dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University and holds a joint faculty appointment in Sexuality Studies and Race and Resistance Studies. She is the author of two books: Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi (2012) and Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental” (2018). Sueyoshi is a recipient of the GLBT Historical Society’s Clio Award for contributions to queer history and served as community grand marshal for San Francisco Pride in 2017.