Video Interview, Bill Giancursio, October 20, 2012
- KEVIN INDOVINO: The first thing I need you to do
- is give me the correct spelling of your first
- and last as you want it to appear on the screen.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Bill.
- That's pretty straightforward.
- Giancursio is G-I-A-N-C-U-R-S-I-O.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember what
- dates you worked on The Empty Closet from 1970 to--
- BILL GIANCURSIO: It was really a brief period.
- Probably a year.
- Maybe a little bit more.
- And I worked on The Empty Closet probably in the late '70s, '76,
- '77, and through there.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: What was your primary role
- in The Empty Closet?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: My primary role working on The Empty Closet
- was as a graphic designer.
- I used to do layout and some artwork cover design.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: So let's start there.
- Let's first talk about getting you out of The Empty Closet.
- What got you involved?
- What interested you about it?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, back in the '70s,
- there weren't a lot of venues to meet people.
- And you could go to the bars or you
- could do other whatever to meet people,
- so it was a social outlet really.
- I didn't think of myself as a especially political person,
- but I did know some of the people who were
- working on The Empty Closet.
- And I just thought I'd try it out and see
- what it would be like.
- And I also was an artist and had graphic design skills,
- and so that's pretty much why I decided to try it out and see
- how it would work.
- So that's what my motivation was.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Talk to me about that first meeting,
- or the first time you stepped into the production
- of The Empty Closet.
- What was that experience like?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: The first time I
- started working for The Empty Closet,
- I was pretty much disoriented.
- I didn't know what was going on.
- It was just pretty hectic, I guess, because I came in,
- I think, during production week when
- we were putting the paper together
- after all of the decisions had been
- made about what to put in the paper
- and who was going to do what.
- So I was just in the midst of things in the basement of Jim's
- in a really dark room just doing jobs, whatever, I think,
- Tim was the editor at that time.
- And Tim would tell me to work on this, work on that,
- and just go from there basically.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, talk to me a little bit about some
- of the camaraderie that was taking place
- in putting this paper together.
- Let me leave it at that.
- Again, just describe for me the experience
- of people coming together and putting together
- a gay newspaper in the 1970s.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, putting the paper together
- was an exciting thing for us, because it
- was a real opportunity for us to meet other people, as I said.
- But it was also scary, because you had to put yourself out
- there and people weren't doing that as easily back
- in the '70s.
- There was always that fear, that apprehension that people were
- going to see your name printed on something gay,
- and associate you with--
- we had a disclaimer in the paper that said,
- just because you worked on the paper
- was not an indication of your sexual orientation,
- and so there was there was a lot of apprehension
- about doing this because it was a big step for many of us.
- But we had a crew.
- People would work at different times,
- and sometimes not everybody would be there,
- but a select group of people would be there.
- And we would also have production week
- when we would crunch to put the paper together, cutting it,
- and pasting it together.
- Because nothing was done on computers back then,
- so it was a process of just taking rubber cement
- and gluing it together, and pasting the pages all together.
- It also wasn't a very large paper.
- I mean, it was monumental for us because it was such a big deal
- to be doing this.
- But at the same time, when I look at The Empty Closet
- today and make comparisons, it's like what we were
- doing was really so minimal.
- It was a step up from what happened in Joe Baker's house
- where they were just printing it in standard 8 1/2 by 11 paper.
- Now, we were on a large format and so the group
- would get together.
- I mean, it was a social thing.
- We would laugh and have some fun while we were there
- and do a lot of giggling and just having a good time.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Did you have that sense of pride
- in what you were doing?
- Particularly, not just pride in your work for the paper,
- but pride in what the paper was doing for the gay community?
- Did you even realize how significant something
- like this gay newspaper could be for Rochester?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I don't think I ever
- put it quite in that context.
- I knew that it was important.
- It was important for us to be doing it,
- and I don't think that the community was
- that receptive to it in the beginning.
- Case in point, we used to, on nights
- when the paper was printed and delivered,
- we would go to the bars and stand at the doors at 2:00 am
- and hand out the newspaper as people were leaving.
- Empty Closet, Empty Closet, Empty Closet, and I
- can remember one person taking it and shaking it and saying,
- it certainly is empty, and threw it on the floor and walked out.
- And I was like, this is pretty funny, but at the same time,
- this is obviously somebody who didn't really
- care about the newspaper.
- But, by and large, most people took it,
- and I think most people read it and found
- that there was something of relevance in it for them.
- We tried to deal with topics that
- were important at the time, like rape in Rochester
- and gays in prison and things like that.
- And so, I think it was relevant.
- I think it was important to be doing it.
- I'm not so sure that everybody's consciousness
- was at the same level, and that's what I'm talking about.
- I think we have a much greater collective gay consciousness
- these days than we did back then.
- Back then, the consciousness was pretty much
- centered around going to bars and meeting people
- and doing whatever you want to do with them,
- and so there wasn't that political.
- I think a lot of people didn't really
- think that they had a right to be out front
- and to be accepted as gay people.
- A lot of it was hidden.
- A lot of it was in the shadows, and so it was really
- an important thing.
- It was.
- CREW: I have to interrupt for a moment.
- I can't hear.
- And I'm rolling again.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: So when you look back at the late '70s
- working on this paper, and now looking
- at where The Empty Closet is today,
- I mean, it's almost coming up on 40 years
- of being in publication.
- New York State's oldest gay newspaper.
- How does that make you feel, looking back
- and knowing that you were part of it in those early days?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, when I look back
- over the past 40 years and the progression of the paper,
- it's really quite amazing to me, I mean,
- that it is still in existence.
- And not only that, but that it is a very good publication.
- It's really filled with information,
- and we have advertisers, we have people
- who are not afraid to be affiliated
- with The Empty Closet newspaper.
- We used to really struggle to get people to advertise,
- because that was a source of revenue for us.
- So it really is quite remarkable to see the progression
- over the years of how the paper has developed into what it is.
- I thought it was something spectacular back then,
- and it really was very minimal.
- It wasn't a lot.
- So today, it's just quite amazing to see where it's gone.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: And a little bit more of a broader view of it.
- What do you think it says about a community like Rochester
- to be able to have the oldest gay newspaper in New York state
- published here in Rochester?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I'm not sure I know how to respond to that,
- because I just really don't.
- I think that the people in this community
- obviously recognize the need to have this paper.
- We also have an incredibly devoted group
- of people putting it together, particularly, Susan Jordan.
- I don't know that the paper would
- have lasted as long as it has without Susan's dedication
- and just work.
- She's just remarkable in that regard.
- so, I think that the paper is a testimonial to the people who
- are dedicated to making sure that paper
- gets out and recognize the relevance of it,
- but I never would have thought 40 years ago
- that the newspaper would have continued the way it has.
- It really is amazing to me.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: So let's step away from the newspaper
- a little bit.
- Let's just talk about gay life in Rochester, late '70s,
- what was it like?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, gay life in Rochester in the '70s
- was interesting because we were just
- at the point of feeling it was OK to be gay.
- I mean, we had the psychiatric stamp of approval
- that it was not an illness to be gay, and so there was--
- I think, at least for me, there was
- this feeling better about myself as a gay man,
- and willing to accept that it was OK to be gay,
- and so coming out was starting to happen in me.
- And, of course, being on the newspaper,
- being politically involved was part of that process,
- because we didn't want to just go
- to the bars, which is what we did, which was really
- all we had before the political consciousness
- started to kick in, and, well, before Stonewall.
- I mean I was not a part of being out prior to that, so
- everything happened for me afterwards.
- And so I thought that, wow, we're there.
- We've arrived, and we hadn't arrived at all.
- What I remember the most is, and what I still remember now
- as I look back is impatience, waiting for our turn,
- and thinking that it was going to happen at any point now.
- And, of course, it never did, and now 40 years later, we're
- still just starting to approach a point in time where
- we are acceptable.
- We are accepted and we can get married.
- This blows my mind.
- I was ready for it 40 years ago and expected it 40 years ago.
- So just sitting there and waiting and waiting,
- and in a time when the consciousness was
- evolving so slowly.
- It really just was a different time period.
- Well, we were on a roll and then the whole business
- with AIDS just interrupted and changed
- the whole process for us.
- So I think that it makes a difference.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Well let me just expand that a little bit,
- because there's so many different perceptions
- of what AIDS did for us.
- And sure, it was a tragedy, took a lot of people away from us,
- but it really forced us out of the closet.
- From your perspective, when you first started hearing
- about AIDS hitting the Rochester community,
- what do you remember about that time,
- and what do you remember about how
- we, more from your own experience,
- were trying to understand what was happening?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: When I first heard about the epidemic, when
- I first heard about AIDS, I was in the midst of a relationship.
- I had a seven year relationship, and it was probably
- three years in, and I remember being in my living room
- and hearing something on WXXI about this plague,
- this disease, this cancer.
- They were calling it gay related,
- and thinking, well, this is totally impossible.
- How could this be?
- This doesn't make sense.
- I think that somebody is just making this up and, of course,
- as the time progressed, it became more apparent what
- was really happening.
- And I was glad I was in a relationship.
- I had been in a monogamous relationship for some time,
- but I was also afraid, as we all were, because we just
- didn't know what was going on with it, and the impact of it
- on the community.
- So it was a scary thing for a lot of people.
- Was it a good thing, or a bad thing?
- It did put a face on being gay, and it certainly changed things
- for us politically, but it also, I think,
- caused a setback for us because we lost our momentum.
- I can remember going to Washington DC for one
- of the first gay marches on Washington
- where they exhibited the quilt for the first time,
- and what an incredibly empowering feeling that was
- and realizing for the first time how this had affected us.
- I mean, we were totally overwhelmed by the experience.
- I never thought it was that enormous but it was.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember if that was October of 1992?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: It was before then.
- I think, it was in the '80s.
- It was one of the first ones.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Just jumping around here a little bit.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: It's OK, so am I.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: I want more of a sense of what it
- was like to be gay in the '70s.
- You talked about Jim's.
- I know nothing about Jim's.
- Tell me about Jim's.
- Describe for me, if you need describe for me about
- Jim's, and what the experience was like being at Jim's?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Being gay in the '70s was very interesting.
- There was the bars, and that was our focal point.
- We went to the bars to meet people,
- and regardless of whether you were into casual sex
- or you just wanted to socially connect with other people
- and make friends, there really weren't other places to go.
- And so going to Jim's, Jim's was the bar in Rochester.
- The big bar to go to on a Saturday night, on a Friday
- night, and just dance.
- It was even a little bit before disco,
- and so Gloria Gaynor, that era, just a little bit before disco
- And so you want to he went to Jim's to dance.
- Then, of course, being after Stonewall, we could touch.
- We could connect with each other.
- We didn't have to worry about having the police raid us
- or anything like that.
- So we felt more comfortable about it, but it was fun time.
- I mean, obviously, I was 40 years younger,
- so the energy level was great.
- You took a nap in the early evening
- so that you could go out and party and you
- went out at 11:00.
- I can remember the first experience
- when I first came out and first decided to go into a gay bar.
- It took a lot of effort on my part,
- because I really didn't know anybody.
- I didn't know any gay people, but I
- knew there was a gay bar in the city, a big one.
- And I used to drive around it a lot just
- to see what was going on, check out the landscape.
- And the first time I went, I got very drunk
- before I went to the bar.
- And I started drinking about 8:00.
- By 9:30, I was totally blasted.
- I got in my car, drove over to Jim's, and I said, damn it,
- I'm going in this bar tonight.
- And I went into the bar at 9:30, and, of course,
- nobody goes out before 11:00-11:30,
- and there was nobody in the bar, and I was so blasted I could
- barely see what was going on.
- There were lights flashing.
- I mean, there was music playing, but nobody was in the bar
- and it was like, oh my god, what have I done?
- It was just the timing was bad, and then I
- realized, OK, let's try this again a little later.
- And then, of course, another night I went out
- and the place was just hopping, and it was very exciting.
- It was very exciting for me to just suddenly see
- there were other people there and meeting some
- of these people and realizing that they were not
- at all stereotypically what I expected gay people to be.
- And I can remember going home and saying, wow,
- that person's gay and that person is gay.
- I just didn't know what to expect,
- but I was overwhelmed by my expectations
- of the people I met.
- I had also started college at that time,
- so I had one gay friend who was there and introduced me
- to some others, and pretty soon, well, over a course of time,
- I just made friends and we'd just hang out really.
- That's what you did.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: But still at that time, correct me if
- I'm wrong, but you still had to be a little careful?
- Police were still raiding bars, and police were writing down
- license plate numbers.
- You were a college student at the time
- so you didn't have to worry about your employer finding
- out, but there were a lot of things
- that people had to deal with back then.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: There was always gay oppression.
- There's gay oppression today.
- It doesn't go away, but you, at some point, have to say enough.
- It's like, yes, if I want to be afraid
- that people are going to write my license plate down,
- and are going to be taking pictures of me
- or stalking me or threatening me,
- then I'm going to stay at home and never go out.
- So you have to take risks.
- That's just the way it is.
- There's no way around it.
- I think it's easier to take risks today
- than it was back then, sure.
- But the police department was right there next
- to Jim's, which was funny so you had to walk by the police
- department to go into Jim's.
- And sometimes, we were a little bit afraid,
- but most of the time we just didn't think about it.
- It was the rewards of being able to be ourselves and to go out
- and to just have a drink with friends
- was more important and more significant than the fear.
- And yet, there were a lot of people who were afraid and just
- wouldn't go out to the bars because of that reason,
- and they found other ways of expressing their sexuality.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: So with that scenario,
- because that was not a time period where a lot of people
- could be openly gay.
- Again, you're working on this newspaper
- and putting a face to gay people in their community.
- What are you most proud of about that?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Putting a face on the newspaper
- was a challenge.
- I remember we did a newspaper that
- was entitled, The Empty Closet Looks at Itself,
- which showed us in the process of production.
- Believe it was Whitey LeBlanc took pictures
- of all of us doing production.
- I was terrified when that newspaper came out,
- because there was my face in the paper along with my name,
- and I was putting together the gay paper.
- So it was scary.
- It really was.
- But once I saw it, it was like, OK, it's out there.
- So what?
- What are you going to do, put me in jail?
- I knew that wouldn't happen, so it was--
- on some level, I realized I was confronting my own fears
- about being gay, and how other people
- were going to react to it.
- And that's really where your comfort zones come from.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: You know what year that was?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I'm going to say 1978.
- I have the newspaper.
- I could have brought it.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: I'd like to look up a copy of that paper
- downstairs, and hopefully, they still
- have some of the original photos on file.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, the photos are in the paper too,
- and I don't know where the files would be.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Photofiles are downstairs as well,
- so with any luck the original photos are still there.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: There's a whole strip
- of us all down the side just cutting and pasting and--
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Those are the things.
- If I can't find it downstairs, we'll
- be calling you and saying--
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Yeah, I did have that one newspaper.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's talk a little bit again
- about being gay in Rochester.
- Have you been to pictures of ImageOut?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I used to go to the ImageOut films,
- but because I teach in the evenings, it's difficult for me
- to get to a lot of movies and a lot of the films.
- And now with gay TV, you don't even have to.
- You can watch a lot of them on the Logo, on the gay channel.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: You're the person we don't like.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: No, I did.
- The first couple of years, I went to many of the movies.
- Yeah, a lot of them.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's just talk about those early years then
- because we're talking to some people about those early years
- of ImageOut.
- And, again, why it's so significant that a city like
- Rochester could have a film festival.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, as an artist
- I've been a part of ImageArt.
- I've been in ImageArt a number of years
- and have actually won top prize once or twice
- a couple of years.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, talk to me about that.
- Talk to me about being part of what
- is publicly known as the gay/lesbian art exhibition
- here in Rochester.
- Again, why is that significant for the community,
- but moreso why is it significant for you as a gay artist?
- Do you want to be known as a gay artist
- or do you want be known as just an artist?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, I think of myself as an artist first.
- The fact that I'm gay is just part of the deal.
- And I also think that my art is very, very gay.
- There are a lot of gay undertones
- and there's a lot of ambiguity in my work as well.
- And so, it does speak to a gay person on a certain level,
- but it also is mysterious on another level.
- Certainly, I do a lot of figurative work.
- I do a lot of work with male figures, male forms,
- and the interaction between them.
- If you read between the lines, you
- can see that it is gay work, but it's also not that overtly gay
- because it's just the way I work as an artist.
- But being a part of ImageArt was a neat experience,
- because it was uniquely ours.
- It was for the gay community.
- I think by the time that I had come
- to the point where I was entering artwork,
- I was very comfortable being gay.
- I mean, I am very comfortable being gay now.
- I think the early years were the years of apprehension,
- and certainly by the time ImageArt came around
- and ImageOut came around, it was no big deal.
- It's integrated into who I am.
- I think probably the biggest hurdle was dealing
- with relatives and parents, but once that is off the table,
- then it's like, I've got nothing to hide.
- They know who I am.
- Fear of being on the news, because, in early years,
- we also had a lot of events that the press covered,
- and so there was always that, oh my god,
- am I going to be on the news tonight?
- But, once again, you evolve past that.
- You develop a level of comfort with yourself
- about who you are, and it's like, you know what?
- I don't give a damn.
- It's like, what's the big deal?
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Brings up a question again
- in regards to your art.
- We are focusing on many things in this documentary.
- We're focusing on gays in political,
- and gays in education, and gays in the social scene, gays
- in civil rights, and all that.
- One thing we also want to focus is gay artists,
- and how gays have contributed to arts and cultural scene
- here in Rochester.
- And does your work convey any political message,
- social message?
- Do you see your work having any kind of influence
- for gay activism in the community?
- How do you want people see your work,
- and how are you connected?
- There's a lot of questions in here.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I know, you're covering a lot of bases.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Exploring for a question
- here, but as a gay artist--
- as an artist, how has your work connected
- to say the gay community and who we are?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, as an artist who's gay,
- it's impossible for me to separate myself from what I do.
- I think that my work is very political.
- As opposed to say decorative or just interesting to look at,
- there's always a message of some kind,
- and that message is probably the motivation behind what I do
- and why I do it.
- So I can't separate being gay from the art that I do,
- because it is there.
- I mean, if people were to look at my art,
- they would know that I was a gay artist because of the content
- if they want to do the work and think about it.
- The other thing I do is I do books too.
- I do photo books.
- In addition to painting as an artist, which
- is one way of expressing myself, I've
- also found another way of expressing myself
- through the books that I do which are basically
- about gay play.
- I use a lot of Ken dolls and GI Joe dolls,
- and I photograph them in various aspects.
- One of my books is Our Gay Wedding Day,
- where I did an entire wedding with the reception
- and the ceremony and all of the preparatory work and everything
- that goes into a wedding like a photographer
- might do for a heterosexual couple.
- Only I did it all in small miniature scale using the toys,
- because the toys are very much a part of our indoctrination
- as children.
- Boys were not allowed to have dolls.
- Well, we weren't until GI Joe came along
- and then we gave kids the right to play with dolls,
- but they were really called action figures not dolls.
- It's just an interesting twist, because now,
- when you think about it, boys can play with dolls as long
- as we don't call them dolls.
- And the other thing is that men have been denied the right
- to play with dolls and to play house, and do
- things that are considered more associated with little girls.
- And little girls are denied their right
- to do masculine things, and we indoctrinate them.
- We start early with toys.
- We say you can play with this, but you can't play with that
- because little girls don't do that,
- and little boys don't want to do that.
- So we really indoctrinate kids early on,
- and my whole premise is that we have a right to these toys
- as children.
- We have a right to select it.
- As gay children, we know what we want to play with.
- And so, we should be allowed to select
- and then that should be a part of our right as children.
- To grow up and explore the concept
- of play just in a free way without being labeled anything
- in particular.
- And so we're gay, but we know what we want to play with
- and these toys are very much a part of our upbringing too.
- So I just did this whole series of books, Gay Play,
- where I'm playing with dolls the way I wanted to as a child.
- Only I'm playing with them as an adult,
- and making a statement about the indoctrination that
- goes into playing with toys, and the way we start early on.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Can I just follow up on that
- a little bit about using your work
- or conveying in your work something that
- can make a social comment a comment on who
- we are as a society.
- Talk to me a little bit about that.
- About you're an artist who happens to be gay,
- and a lot of that gets worked into your work.
- But there's the bigger picture there,
- you're making a comment on something
- about who we are as a society?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, I am making a comment
- about who we are as a society.
- I mean, politically, I'm also making comments
- about who we are as gay people.
- Another book I did is called Hard.
- It's an ambiguous title intentionally,
- but it talks about, it's all about gay men
- and their obsession with going to the gym
- and working out and having hard bodies,
- and all the rest of the stuff that
- goes along with being hard.
- It's all ambiguous, but it's also interesting
- because it is part of our culture.
- So politically, it's part of our culture.
- It's also just sharing it with other people who
- don't know otherwise, particularly,
- straight society that we have things
- that are part of our culture.
- Drag queens, for example.
- There was a time when we just didn't
- want to be associated with drag queens because of elements
- of, obviously, stereotypes that we all want
- to wear dresses and high heels.
- Which is absurd, but straight society
- said, OK, if you're gay, that's what you want.
- This brings up something interesting.
- I remember my first partner.
- When we first met, he was not out, and he did come out
- and told his sister shortly after.
- And I said, I don't know if that's a good idea,
- you should think about this.
- And he said to his sister, I'm gay,
- and she said, so when are you going to start wearing dresses
- and wigs.
- He was floored by that.
- He didn't know how to respond to it,
- and I was like, I could not believe
- that this is what she thought was going to be part
- of his evolution as a gay man.
- It was just like, wow, that was like,
- oh, I guess people do believe this crap.
- And so, getting back to my original point about drag
- We distanced ourselves from them.
- We were afraid of them.
- Some people loved the entertainment.
- Some of us just never recognized the need for it.
- We wanted to get away from that stereotype as best we can.
- We wanted distance ourselves as much as we could from it,
- because it's still society's way of saying, oh, it's OK for you
- to be gay as long as you entertain us with your gayness.
- Screw that.
- We can be doctors and lawyers too and contribute to society.
- Our sole contribution is not as drag queens to entertain you,
- to be at your disposal.
- But, nowadays, we're OK with that.
- We've integrated that into who we are
- and we believe that, yeah, it's who we are.
- It's part of who we are, but it's not all that we are,
- and if that's all you see, then the hell with you.
- Who cares?
- KEVIN INDOVINO: But back to your point.
- As an artist, putting images out there that aren't the direct.
- Putting images out there that are different elements
- of who we are as a community.
- What is your thought on how an artist helps influence society
- or help to educate a society?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, for me, art is confrontational.
- I believe that art should be confrontational.
- That's just my personal opinion, because it's not for everybody.
- Some people find it to be just decorative and fun
- and it matches the room.
- I mean, everyone has a different opinion
- about what art should be.
- From my perspective, it should be confrontational.
- It should engage you as the viewer.
- It should ask questions to you.
- It should make you walk away wondering or thinking
- about something, and so as a gay artist,
- there is that gay narrative in my work.
- And so, for anybody who looks at it,
- I want them to walk away wondering,
- what it is I'm saying or thinking about something that I
- made a comment on.
- And, usually, that is a gay comment of some sort.
- I'm telling you something to think
- about in terms of us being gay.
- So art, it takes many forms for many people.
- It all depends on who you are, and what you want from it.
- Some people just like pretty landscapes.
- And it's like the whole concept of being gay means
- being a drag queen.
- Being an artist means doing pretty pictures.
- Well, it's not always the case.
- Art is political.
- You can't deny that.
- I mean, art has always been political,
- and I think powerful art, strong art,
- does make a comment of some sort.
- Not that there's anything wrong with having pretty pictures
- above your sofa.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: There's a joke in there somewhere.
- We'll just wrap this up because I still
- want to follow on this contribution
- of the artist thought here.
- Not only from just your artwork, but when
- we look at all the arts, whether it's visual arts or dance
- or music or theater or whatever, there's
- a long history of gays being part of all of that.
- And we have for a very long time have had a lot
- to say through our artwork.
- Basically, your thoughts on that, more generalized terms.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I think that there are a lot of gay artists.
- There's a lot of art that has gay undertones.
- I guess what I'm getting at--
- give me a second here to think about this.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Because I'm not even
- thinking about an art piece that is even gay themed.
- There's a lot of gay artists out there doing landscapes.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: You're right.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: But we've had a lot of influence
- on what art is.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I think that when we look at art,
- we have to realize that art is created by people who
- see the world differently, who see
- the world through creativity.
- And I think that involves a certain element of sensitivity
- to your surroundings, and I think
- that gay people are sensitive.
- They think that a lot of them are
- attuned to the world in a different way.
- Their perceptual skills, they're aware of oppression, and just
- the way the world responds to them,
- and so there is this sensitivity,
- I think, that very often finds its expression in creativity.
- Whether it's dance or music or painting, and so,
- not every artist is gay, but every artist
- is sensitive to something.
- And sometimes, some of the most sensitive people
- are gay because they just see the world differently,
- and they express it from that perspective.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's talk about gay marriage.
- Ring on the finger, so you got married.
- Get married in New York or before?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: No, my partner Tom Farace and I
- got married in Massachusetts, three years ago.
- And we did so because Massachusetts
- is the state that is challenging the federal government,
- and so we thought about going to Canada.
- We thought about waiting for New York,
- and then we thought, no, we're going to go to Massachusetts.
- And do it because Massachusetts is
- at the forefront of the movement,
- and if anything happens federally,
- it's going to happen in Massachusetts first.
- And so, this is why we selected Massachusetts.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: So in terms of then
- New York finally passing gay marriage legislation,
- your first thoughts when you heard that it passed?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, when I first
- heard that marriage equality passed in New York,
- I was at equal ground the night that they voted and put it
- all together.
- And it was like, well, it's about time.
- It really is.
- I mean I can remember going to an ESPA dinner
- and Eliot Spitzer telling us it's going to happen,
- it's going to happen, and it seemed
- like that was a couple of years before it did,
- and I kept waiting.
- I'm an impatient person.
- I kept waiting for it to happen, and I wasn't sure
- that it would.
- In fact, the first time when it didn't go,
- I was pretty annoyed by that, but I still
- am in disbelief that it's happened in New York state.
- And I have friends who are, oh, they're going to change it.
- They'll take it away, and no they won't it's going to stick.
- It's good.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: It's interesting that you mention that,
- because Massachusetts is trying to abolish it.
- They are trying to abolish it, right?
- Massachusetts is trying go back on it?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Massachusetts is
- challenging the federal government to accept it.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: One of the states is trying.
- It was California that repealed it.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Yes.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Trying to get my states all
- straightened out here.
- So interesting to think about is that, OK, we got it.
- The question is can it be taken away?
- What are the challenges from this point on?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: It's my understanding
- that it can't be taken away because
- of the way it was passed.
- It can't be brought up for a vote before the public.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: We should leave it at that then.
- I was just exploring that.
- Really didn't even know what question I had in mind.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: Well, the interesting thing
- is I wonder why people don't get married now that they can.
- But it's a testament to the fact that we
- form relationships and unions that are not based
- on the premise of marriage.
- We stay together because we love each other,
- because we care about each other,
- not because we're bound by marriage.
- I was torn about getting married.
- I really wasn't sure that I wanted to get married,
- because I don't believe in the institution of marriage
- I think it's very prejudicial.
- First of all, because it says if you're married,
- you are a select member of society
- who is entitled to certain benefits and rules.
- I think everybody should have those rights
- whether you're married or not.
- So the idea that we have to be married to be legitimate
- is just absurd.
- Doesn't last.
- Go ahead.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: But you finally made the choice to get married.
- So why?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I married because, believe it or not,
- and this is going to sound very shallow,
- but we decided that we would get married
- because of the benefits that were
- involved in getting married.
- And that goes back to what I was saying a minute ago
- about the fact that the federal government and state
- governments give you benefits because you're married.
- That you can't have, as a single person, health care for one.
- Maggie Brooks, you have to give us rights now.
- You have to give me health care because I'm
- married to Tom Farace, who works for you.
- So I think that's a significant thing,
- and it's the benefits that are important.
- We should have that if married people get them,
- we're entitled to them as well.
- So on a political level, yeah, that's why I did it.
- But, of course, I've also been together
- with my husband for quite close to 20 years.
- That's a testament to who we are and what we believe.
- So marriage is secondary.
- It's not going to change the way we feel about each other.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: But it is interesting now,
- because you had said that you don't understand
- why people who have been in long-term relationships
- don't get married now?
- But isn't it interesting, the fact
- that we now have the choice and that's what it's all about?
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I think it's great that we have the choice
- to marry or to not get married, and I
- do understand why people choose not to get married,
- but I think that the reason you should make that choice
- is not because you're afraid of it.
- The fear shouldn't be the reason that stops you from doing it.
- If you've been together for 20 years, it's like,
- why not get married?
- If there's something in it for you, and when
- you think about it, carrying individual health
- care when you can combine it and save money.
- It's one of the ways to beat the system,
- and the system is what's screwing us most of the time,
- so it does make sense.
- But, once again, it's a personal choice like everything else.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: We'll leave it at that.
- BILL GIANCURSIO: I don't know how helpful I've been.
- I think I rambled a lot.
- KEVIN INDOVINO: Don't walk away with this microphone though.