One night this summer I learned one of the most prominent figures in LGBT history had lived in my hometown, Massapequa.
Part of my intrigue with Christine comes from the dissonance of what Massapequa must have been while housing Christine to what Massapequa has become. Being gay is fine there now; doesn’t threaten the socially progressive, yet fiscally conservative republican brand. But growing up there as a closeted gay sucked. Transphobia remains palpable.
Learning about Christine made me reflect on struggling with sexuality in my teens and imagine younger transgendered or gay individuals experiencing similar now. Would reading a historic marker about Christine and learning about her life while younger would have affected me in some way.
I read her autobiography, listened to her recorded talks at USC and UCLA, perused digital archives of newspapers, and wrote a proposal for a historic marker honoring her at the home her parents built. My thought was maybe this could effect someone instead.
It was rejected.
Wasn’t surprised, but was still bummed.
Interestingly Massapequa’s town supervisor was an early champion against “erasing history.” He went viral in 2017 saying Massapequa would buy any Christopher Columbus statues taken down by NYC. Imagine Sunrise Highway littered with larger-than-life statues of an Italian explorer who never set foot on Long Island, let alone the continental United States. But then god forbid we commemorate one of the most prominent figures in LGBT history who actually lived in Massapequa. It was never about erasing history.
So, I built a statute of Christine: sturdy, but light enough to be carried. My goal is to place the work around my hometown for a week or two. Not to be provocative, but to show being queer (dead or alive) doesn’t have to be political. It also raises questions on who controls community dialogue, communal history.