Thee Gay Art of Being Selfish and Lazy
Thee Gay Agenda turns bizarre note into a gallery of queer talent
By James Scott,
9:00AM, Fri. May 8, 2020
People sometimes say rude, incorrect stuff about the queer community. In fact, people say enough recycled crummy junk about the Els, the Bees, the Teas, the Gees, and all those beautiful Queue Pluses that getting an original insult leaves quite the impression.
When queer comedy collective Thee Gay Agenda found one of their flyers, for example, wadded up with the message, “Being gay is selfish and lazy,” written on its back, they were caught totally off guard by what TGA founder Emmet Hunker calls a bizarre slur. Deciding to transform the odd note into a call for artistic submissions that reflected “a celebration of queerness in the face of objection” was a move meant to create an in-person showcase of queer talent that flew in the face of the cruel words. Now, the current metamorphosis of “Being Gay Is Selfish and Lazy” – a virtual gallery of those submissions debuting on Sun., May 10 – is born of a love for the Austin queer community that is anything but selfish and lazy.
When I first spoke to Hunker, the city was inching steadily toward stay-at-home orders and plans hadn’t been finalized on what the showcase’s form would be – all that was for sure was the show would go on in some fashion. Following the tidal wave that has been COVID-19’s effect on the world, re-creating the gallery has been a difficult path. Pushing the show back from its original March 20 debut (TGA’s anniversary) was always going to be hard but it was a necessary decision. “Postponement, I think,” Hunker said during our original talk, “is the truest expression of our care for the community.” Speaking now, they say that coming back to plan the event post-COVID-19 was a struggle. However, after taking time to rest and reorganize, TGA began to reach out and rebuild plans for the gallery, now to be hosted in the digital realm.
No longer in the Before Times and viscerally in the present, Hunker says that the actual process of putting together an online showcase threw new challenges at them – with everyone having difficulty adjusting to this strange new terrain. Some artists dropped out, and others struggled with the mental weight of quarantine limitations – the gallery, however, has continued to fill out with queer excellence. “Isolation is a familiar presence to most artists – whether friend, foe, or muse,” Hunker elaborates. “The current state of isolation is different – I'm grateful to have helped capture queer creation during it.”
The central message of the original crumpled flyer remains entirely untrue: Being gay takes a lot of work, especially in a pandemic-struck world. “Although this virtual gallery will not be the one we set out to build,” Hunker says, “I'm very proud of everyone involved – proving just how malleable and resilient we are.” They add that with a lack of physical presence, the gallery can now reach even more people than ever.
Catch this virtual gallery of queer artists being anything but selfish and lazy on TGA’s website, debuting Sun., May 10, along with their lineup of educational and entertaining events hosted on Zoom.