OUT/LOOK and the Birth of the Queer

October 2017 – January 2018

Curated by E. G. Crichton


A multimedia exhibition at the GLBT History Museum explored the story of OUT/LOOK, a groundbreaking national queer quarterly published in San Francisco from 1988 to 1992. Embracing gender and racial diversity and bridging academic and community perspectives, the magazine developed an avid readership. The show and its associated programs, publication and website were designed to spark intergenerational conversations about the legacy of OUT/LOOK and its era.

Curated by E. G. Crichton, “OUT/LOOK and the Birth of the Queer” featured new works by 38 culture-makers, each asked to find inspiration in one of the 17 issues of the magazine. This diverse group included writers, visual artists, performers, curators, activists and representatives of two organizations, all belonging to the two generations of queers who have grown up since the five-year lifespan of the magazine.

“The last issue of OUT/LOOK was published 25 years ago, yet people still tell me they miss it,” Crichton says. “Members of younger generations I speak to — including the participants in this project — express surprise that we were already wrangling back then with intersectional identities, marriage equality, the politics of respectability, who decides our tactics for resistance and other contemporary concerns.

“Walking through the gallery, listening to the audio tour, visitors will be introduced to OUT/LOOK through historical materials and through artists’ and writers’ provocative new responses to the original magazine,” Crichton adds. “They’ll get a taste of innovative queer thinking and the sharp debates in and about the LGBTQ community at a pivotal time in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And they’ll discover lots of links to issues that are very much alive today.”



About the Publication and Website

The “OUT/LOOK and the Birth of the Queer” project includes publication of a new issue of the magazine that brings together artwork, essays, poems, a play and editorials. The publication is available at the GLBT History Museum for $20.

Also developed in conjunction with the exhibition is a content-rich website offering historical information about OUT/LOOK, responses and recollections from creators and readers of the journal, and a portfolio of each participant’s contribution to the project.

To visit the OUT/LOOK website, click here.


About the Curator

E.G. Crichton was a founder of OUT/LOOK, where she served as art director from 1988 to 1990. An interdisciplinary artist and curator, she uses a range of media and social strategies to explore specific histories, often working in collaboration with diverse practitioners and communities. Her projects have been exhibited in art institutions and as public installations across the United States and in Asia, Australia and Europe. She retired in 2016 as professor of art at the University of California, Santa Cruz. For more information, visit https://egcrichton.sites.ucsc.edu/.


About the Funders

OUT/LOOK and the Birth of the Queer” was made possible in part by a grant from the Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. For more information about the fund, visit the Creative Work Fund website. Also supported in part by funding from three sources at the University of California, Santa Cruz: an Arts Research Institute grant, the Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence and the Dickson Emeriti Award.

Banner photo: Rick Gerharter, Queer Nation kiss-in at the Powell Street cable car turnaround, San Francisco (1991).