This Used to Be a Lake is centered on Sieh’s experiences and observations related to growing up queer and with gay fathers, during and after the 1980’s AIDS crisis. The exhibition’s closing will be marked with a screening of three films that provide historical context for this experience; remind us of the complexities of twice-marginalized identity and of failures of allyship within the LGBTQ+ population; and invite conversation about the relationships between art, joy, resistance, and resilience. The all-day event will be punctuated by shared food and conversation between films, and will end with an evening of karaoke.
2 – 3:30 pm
We Were Here / David Weissman, 2010
4 – 5 pm
Tongues Untied / Marlon Riggs, 1989
5:30 – 7:30 pm
Cabaret / Bob Fosse, 1972
8 – 10 pm
*Please be aware that these films include depictions and descriptions of homophobia, racism, antisemitism, violence, animal cruelty, and sexual assault.
We Were Here
“We Were Here documents the coming of what was called the “Gay Plague” in the early 1980s. It illuminates the profound personal and community issues raised by the AIDS epidemic as well as the broad political and social upheavals it unleashed. We Were Here evokes an epic history, through the intimate recollections of five longtime San Franciscans whose lives were transformed by the epidemic. The history recounted in We Were Here extends beyond San Francisco and beyond AIDS itself. It speaks to our capacity as individuals to rise to the occasion, and to the incredible power of a community coming together with love, compassion, and determination.” (wewereherefilm.com)
“Made, in director Marlon Riggs’s own words, to ‘shatter the nation’s brutalizing silence on matters of sexual and racial difference,’ this radical blend of documentary and performance defies the stigmas surrounding Black gay sexuality in the belief that, as long as shame prevails, liberation cannot be possible. Through music and dance, words and poetry by such pathbreaking writers as Essex Hemphill and Joseph Beam—and by turns candid, humorous, and heartbreaking interviews with queer African American men—Tongues Untied gives voice to what it means to live as an outsider in both a Black community rife with homophobia and a largely white gay subculture poisoned by racism. A lightning rod in the culture wars of the 1980s that incited a right-wing furor over public funding for the arts, the film has lost none of its life-affirming resonance.” (criterion.com)
Cabaret’s star, Liza Minelli, has been a gay icon for decades, and an early, outspoken advocate for AIDS awareness and research. She has also long publicly resisted the idea that sexuality necessarily exists within binary categories. Set in 1929-1930 Germany, Cabaret juxtaposes the insidious rise of fascism with the complex economic, political, sexual, and interpersonal realities of individual characters. Considered one of the most groundbreaking musicals of all time–and still unsettlingly relevant in today’s political climate–the film is a spectacularly meta illustration of the ways in which politicized art and entertainment can be simultaneously critical and complicit.