To some, Long Beach State senior Riley Natividad’s painting “19” might look like a typical portrait, but for Natividad it’s his self-portrait, highlighting melancholy blue tones and bright red cheeks. It symbolizes a deeper look into his self-proclaimed embarrassing yet beautiful journey of coming out as an LGBTQ+ person.
“Coming out was a rollercoaster of emotions filled with ups and downs,” Natividad said.
Featured alongside senior art majors Bianca Joaquino, Jenni Huynh and Julie Nguyen, Natividad’s “19” portrays one of the many LGBTQ+ stories told in the “Reflections” exhibit in the School of Art Gallery this week.
The artists behind “Reflections” hope to bring positive exposure and normalization to the LGBTQ+ community and the experiences they have had.
“I really wanted to portray the beauty of the [LGBTQ+] community,” Huynh said. “That’s what this show is all about.”
While centered around the idea of normalization, this gallery opened up new doors for Natividad regarding his own sexuality.
“I had only begun coming out to people less than a year before they invited me in to their show so at the time, I was still struggling to be comfortable in my own skin,” Natividad said.
Natividad added that through his contributions to the show, he received a lot of support and found another opportunity to come out to his family. Nguyen found inspiration for the gallery through witnessing the struggles she endured by having a close friend in the LGBTQ+ community.
“I can see the world around her through her eyes and I can see how difficult for her it is,” Nguyen said.
Upon seeing this, Nguyen created a series of eight paintings depicting various individuals of different sexualities and paired each person with a quote they had to say about their sexuality or their experience.
Nguyen’s goal was to humanize her subjects and to bring awareness of shared and differing experiences between people of all sexual orientations.
“I just want the audience — whether they are straight or gay — to realize we are all human, there’s no difference,” Nguyen said.
The idea of normalizing those in the LGBTQ+ community is continued in Joaquino’s six-piece portrait and illustration sets “r.chu,” “Ash” and “Casey.”
After interviewing three friends of varying sexualities, Joaquino painted their portraits and displayed information on each subjects sexuality, how it shapes who they are and what they would say to someone who hopes to gain a better understanding of the LGBTQ+.
“It’s so important to shine a positive light on the LGBTQ+ community and give them a platform where they can be open about their sexuality,” Joaquino said. “Queer individuals look just like everyone else and their orientation shouldn’t change the way people view them.”
Huynh and Nguyen hope to put together another LGBTQ+ exhibit next semester and wish to possibly focus the gallery on drag queens and the culture surrounding them.
“Reflections” is one among five featured galleries this week in the School of Art galleries.
The galleries are open for viewing from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, located in the Fine Arts Buildings on campus.