The big dilemma for me as a boy was my struggle to understand that the awakening of my own desires were very different from those presented as the cultural norm. I recognized that I was “Different from the Others.” Indeed, the difference that I uncovered had a negative social label with which I was constantly confronted. Children learn based on the models they are able to see and emulate. What then happened to the boy who perceived such difference and saw no models that he could emulate? Shame became a perspective that I internalized.
The title of my show has been inspired by the silent film of the same name released in 1919 that castigates society’s shaming of this difference. The film insists that homosexual desire is a natural thing and not a thing that should elicit shame, fear, or blackmail. Efforts by The Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, and others in pre-Nazi Germany to normalize same-sex love were culturally significant and have often been forgotten or erased. Those early sexual rights advocates and their ideas were brutally shut down and that is always a danger for those who question the cultural norm.
In today’s world where “identity politics” have initiated both a cultural renaissance as well as a cultural backlash, I believe that celebrating the beauty of difference is fundamentally important. Art can serve as a catalyst for initiating such discussion, and perhaps, understanding.
Does the cultural representation of a gay man and his desire for male embrace make a difference? I think it does. This show is my own “boy’s” desire to celebrate male beauty, male tenderness, and man-to-man embrace. It is my intent to confirm that there is no shame in being“Different from the Others” and to provide a perspective of beauty and desire as I celebrate it.
About the Artist:
John Waiblinger is a new media artist who explores masculinity and desire through his Post Photography compositions. Hailing from an academic background with degrees in English, Women’s Studies, and Library Science, Waiblinger redefined himself as an artist in his early 60s, first exhibiting his work at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art in 2014. Since then he has continued to exhibit in galleries and has an established group of collectors.