Among the hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded to YouTube daily, some gay teens are doing something unique that previous generations of gay people might have considered unthinkable: they are staring into webcams and outing themselves online. Doug Smithenry has transformed these online testimonials into an installation of paintings called, Coming Out Online. This exhibition literally waves the colors of gay pride as it reflects and celebrates how the Internet has provided a sense of community for isolated gay youth. It also reveals how the Internet has helped gay adolescents, regardless of geographical boundaries, to (a) discover that they are not alone, (b) label their feelings and figure out who they are, and (c) experience normative developmental milestones that gay adolescents historically repress before coming out later in life.
Coming Out Online, reinforces the ideas of gay pride and community by providing a visual example of both. The installation, which will be shown at the Center on Halsted in Chicago from June 5 to July 5, 2009, consists of a group of 48 small paintings derived from screen shots of YouTube videos of people sharing their coming out stories. The paintings are colorized to represent the gay pride flag. They can be displayed in a long line mimicking the color spectrum or arranged in a grid depending on the location. These paintings extend and praise the voices of gay youth by pulling them from their online existence and presenting them to an off-line audience.
Artist's reception is June 5, 6:30-9:30pm. Center on Halsted is located at 3656 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60613.