I wish to thank the members of the Foundation for honoring me with this award.
I accept it for myself and on behalf of all the nameless and now forgotten gay artists of my generation who pioneered in making both the art world in particular and society in general, first become aware that an audience for such art existed.
Against prejudice, violence, and bigotry we took pride in openly displaying our lifestyles to the larger world a half-century ago.
Mine was the first generation that came out of the closet to the art world a decade “before” Stonewall.
We paid a heavy price in those early days for drawing dirty pictures as they were then called, sacrificing in many cases, our lives, jobs, familly ties and homes for daring to depict The Love That Dare Not Speak it’s Name.
Our art was burned and destroyed in raids by police and postal authorities.
The work was condemned and spit upon by church and state, and especially by the legitimate art world for whom we were rude intruders storming the gates of their conservative ivory towers.
What we dared to depict of the naked male form were criminal acts back then and those of us who portrayed them, criminals.
So addressing you today in this Pantheon of gay art that Durk Dehner has created from scratch, is for me coming full circle with our shared past which began 38 years ago.
I dare say Durk and I go back to the “very beginning” of our separate but similar journeys to form a cohesive American gay art movement in the nineteen sixties.
Since day one and over the decades since, I have borne witness to his unrelenting dedication in raising public awareness of gay art, first nationally and later internationally.
He achieved this incrementally step-by-step over the decades against overwhelming odds and intense hostility until finally bringing it to the wide acceptance gay art now holds today.
Without Durk the art on these walls, the books on these shelves, infact this very building and the people gathered in it would not be here today were it not for his fierce determination in bringing his vision of a universal gay aesthetic into reality.
Without his unstinting dedication the entire gay liberation movement of the nineteen seventies would have lost a major cornerstone of its foundation and ongoing success.
I among many other artists exhibiting here today, and at all the previous ToFF art fairs, would not have had the opportunity to exhibit our work to a wider public without that dedication.
Therefore it is with great humility I accept this honor on behalf of all those fallen artists of my generation who fell in our epic battle to bring gay art to the prominence it currently enjoys.