I wanted to address the issue of how homosexuals are forcing the church to change its doctrinal stance on what has been regarded as a subject of taboo throughout history. With the advent of shows such as ‘Will and Grace’, ‘Ellen’, ‘Spin City’, ‘The ‘L’ Word’, ‘Queer as Folk’, and most importantly, ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’, homosexual characters and lifestyles has entered the mainstream of our collective conscience, mainly through consumption in the mass media, both socially and politically. This has allowed for greater social acceptance and the subtle change in populace attitudes. This shift has coincided with an equally measured response through the increased political exploitation of so-called traditional American ‘values’ trumpeted by the Republican party and their right wing constituents, which on the surface continue to present a hostile, though tempered, approach to the current shift. In ‘Sweet Jesus’, I attempted to offer an artistic bridge to connect these two disparate forces.
Each of the teaser articles were constructed specifically to cross-pollinate the conservative and liberal perspectives through the use of clever word play in order to comically highlight serious issues.
'Can The Lord Jesus Christ Be Gay?: Why Christ’s Eyes Are Focused on Queer Guys' states the premise of the paintings argument. It in no way suggests that the artist considers Christ gay, rather, by proxy questions the level of concern to the point of threat felt by the religious right upon its established concept of Christian ‘values’. This teaser incorporates the slang term ‘Queer’.
'Altared Boys: The Confessions of a Pedopriest', addresses the Catholic churches response to the recent slate of molestation accusations leveled by altar boys at parish priests. Innocent children held under the sway of spiritual authority had their futures ‘altered’ by clergy using the ‘altar’ as shelter to pursue their pedophilic desires. Such accusations highlights the argument often used against homosexuals, i.e., that their ‘deviant sexual behavior’ makes them more susceptible to commit such crimes.
'Condom User Survey: Lambskin vs. Latex' refers obliquely to the Christian reference of Christ as the Good Shepherd, continuously watching over his flock. Lambskin condoms are still widely used, though they have given up market share to the more popular and less expensive latex varieties. It also makes reference to the use of condoms as a ‘safe-sex’ device to help curb the spread of dangerous sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV / AIDS, a so-called ‘gay’ disease.
'Jumping The Groom: Gay Couples Amass Enmasse in Mass.' is a clever play on words referencing the recent legal ruling by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts that legalized gay marriage in the state. With the ruling, many couples ‘amassed enmasse in Massachusetts’ to marry. Since then, many state legislatures (Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire) have amended their constitutions to ban the practice, setting up a much anticipated appeal to the Federal Supreme Court to settle the constitutionally challenging matter.
'Nature, Nurture or Nomenclature? Can a Man Be Born (Again) Gay?' is perhaps the most basic of arguments. Homosexuality has long been considered a ‘lifestyle’ choice by most of society. However, with the unlocking of the human genetic code, sciences will soon be weighing in heavily on the matter.
'Bad Habits: Lesbian Nuns' remains a minimally discussed issue. Statistically however, a plausible case can be made that nuns are not immune to lesbian behavior. After all, despite their vows of celibacy, heterosexual unions between nuns and priests have been well documented.
‘Homo Erectus: The Search for Adam’, addresses the continued argument surrounding the Christian version of ‘creation’ with the scientific concept of ‘evolution’. Homo Erectus is the scientific name given to what is believed to be the first ‘upright’ walking man, also credited as the first to use fire. The wordplay here is obvious and the most specific to the overall statement of the painting. It purposely incorporates the slang term ‘homo’.
'Crucial Fiction: Once Upon a Fairy Tail' refers to the differing views surrounding Christ’s crucifixion. Although his death is accepted as historic fact, many regard his resurrection as nothing more than fiction. This teaser incorporates the slang term ‘fairy’ and alludes to an obvious sexual act.
'Resurrecting Your Lifeless Wardrobe' alludes to the current cliché of the ‘metro’-sexual man who has become astutely aware of his fashionable feminine side. It is also cliché that gay men are fashion conscious divas whose primary purpose in life is rescuing straight men’s wardrobes and collecting antique furniture.
The remaining teaser titles across the bottom are simply my attempt to poke fun at topical blends through the use of word play.
The block text in the bottom right corner mimics the teaser text often seen on such publications and is the only locale that incorporates any personal statements (cynical ones at that!) by the artist. It comments on the need to fill a 24-hour news schedule. I wondered if Christ returned today, would he perhaps fall victim to the paparazzi and tabloid rags clamoring for answers about his personal and political life? Would he have ‘talking points’ and be able to speak in the ‘ten second sound byte’ in order to ‘get his message’ out to the people? Would we trivialize his time worn stated mission of salvation for ‘greater ratings during sweeps week’ by focusing on salacious gossip about his alleged affair and possible marriage to Mary Magdalene as outlined in ‘The DaVinci Code’? Are Republicans really God’s chosen political party?
As for the cover image – I placed my version of Christ (the subject of the portrait is Jeff Moore, a friend of the artist), on the cover of my fashion magazine ‘CQ’ (A spoof on the fashion magazine, ‘GQ’ as well as the initials of the artist, Colin Quashie). What would the ‘Fab Five’ of televisions ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ do if they were faced with the challenge to make over the time worn image of a Christ in sandals and robes? Better yet, collectively, what are homosexuals ultimately doing to make over the image of Christ’s institution, the church?