Join the Fight Against Censorship of Gays

After Republican and Catholic leaders complained, a piece in the National Portrait Gallery has been removed

Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery

As the first major museum exhibition on sexual identity in American portraiture, Hide/Seek – a new art exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. – is stirring up controversy. After complaints from several Republican members of Congress, as well as Catholic leaders, Martin Sullivan, director of the gallery, has decided to remove one of the pieces from this LGBT-themed art exhibition.

The piece in question is a video from 1987 by the late artist David Wojnarowicz called A Fire in My Belly – which addresses the artist’s lover’s agonizing death from AIDS. It features an image of a crucifix with ants crawling on it. Critics say the art shouldn’t be funded through taxpayer money. And while the National Portrait Gallery admitted to NPR that it’s only received one complaint from a visitor about the show, the director has removed the video from the landmark exhibition, which also includes 105 works by Annie Leibovitz, Thomas Eakins, Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keefe, among many others.

A campaign has ignited to address the censorship of the show. Local queer artist Laureen Griffin is asking people to contact the National Portrait Gallery in hopes of reinstating the work back into the show (she posted email addresses on her blog). There’s also a Facebook page dedicated to the controversy.

The video is available for viewing onlineHide/Seek runs until February 13.