Arts & Life, Special Projects

Long Beach LGBTQ+ artists create meaningful works of art

Art has become an integral part of raising social awareness and acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community. Due to infamous, historical works such as Frida Kahlo’s “Two Nudes in the Forest” and Charles Demuth’s “Dancing Sailors,” the world of LGBTQ+ art has become more accepted into mainstream society. Today, LGBTQ+ artists use this medium to raise awareness for the community and work towards their own personal self acceptance.

Many LGBTQ+ artists attending CSULB draw inspiration from their life experiences to create powerful pieces of art. Through drawing, sculpting, poetry and more, artists are able to fully express themselves and experiment with their identities while also depicting their sexualities in a positive light.

Third-year English literature major Westley Finney said his art is an important outlet that allows him to express himself as a gay, intersex and genderfluid man.

“My art is important to me because it allows for self expression. It allows for me to be reverential and honor aspects of myself, in a form of self love,” Finney said. “I’m able to depict my body and transness, as well as my sexuality, in a flattering way, thereby helping me accept myself.”

Westley Finney, an English Literature major, expresses himself as a gay, transgender man through his art.
Westley Finney, an English Literature major, expresses himself as a gay, transgender man through his art. Photo credit: Westley Finney

Finney hopes his art serves as a catharsis for other members of the LGBTQ+ community, but he also wants to teach the public about the importance of inclusivity and representation in the arts.

“I want everyone to see gay love and transness as a beautiful thing,” he said. “It presents LGBTQ+ identities as something reverential and beautiful, and it is lifesaving to share this type of art because it shows we have lived and loved.”

Westley Finney hopes to share the beauty of transgender people with the public through his art.
Westley Finney hopes to share the beauty of transgender people with the public through his art. Photo credit: Westley Finney

Another CSULB student who expresses himself through art is third year fashion design major Ansel Sriphet. Sriphet has been using his art to express himself and his gender identity for eight years, and his graphic designs have helped him love and accept himself.

“Growing up, I couldn’t always relate to other cisgender, straight girls that I knew. At the same time though, I didn’t always feel like ‘one of the guys’ either, ” Sriphet said. “Since my art is an expression of how I feel, I also used it as a way of exploring my identity in a safe, controlled environment. I drew clothes that I wish I had, wrote characters that reflected my experiences. Over time, I think this really helped me figure out how I saw myself.”

As an LGBTQ+ artist who struggled to find his identity growing up, Sriphet wants to encourage self-acceptance for members of the LGBTQ+ community through his art and fashion designs.

Third year fashion design major Ansel Sriphet expresses himself and his experience as a transgender man through his designs.
Third year fashion design major Ansel Sriphet expresses himself and his experience as a transgender man through his designs. Photo credit: Ansel Sriphet

By creating visible, representational pieces of art for the LGBTQ+ community, artists are changing the narrative for future generations of LGBTQ+ people and encouraging self-love and acceptance. Future generations will have the opportunity to consume positive LGBTQ+ works publicly and proudly, encouraging them to love and accept others as well as themselves.

“If we can get more visible LGBTQ+ artists out there sharing their work and their stories, then the next generation can have more examples to look up to,” Sriphet said. “They will have an easier time finding others who share their experiences and will feel less alone.”

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