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Episode 35: Sunil Gupta is an activist and and an artist. I became aware of his book Christopher Street published by Stanley/Barker last year. I was intrigued about Sunil’s experience as an artist tackling the themes of gay identity, aids and his experience in New York post-Stonewall where he stayed for a brief time to make what would become Christoper Street.
I have little knowledge of gay life in New York or the world in general terms. I think growing up hetero in the midwest made my experience limited as to the struggles incurred. Going to art school, I was confronted with artists like Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Castro whose works I was interested in for their transgressive approach. A number of my friends would also later come out. Living in London, the experience was much the same with various levels of experience conveyed to me by friends who had differing experiences as to gay life. In Sunil’s case, what I found interesting is that, having come out at a young age, he recounts in our episode that he did not feel the stereotypical experience of continued persecution that I had heard from many of my friends. It was a new version of coming out that I had not quite heard, one that did not involve a terrible loss of family, violent physical abuse, or what I had perceived to be the customary and terrible experience of ostracization.
Sunil’s story and work are fascinating. We discussed everything outlined above and he spoke freely about his life. He will have a new book coming very soon called Lovers: Ten Years On to be published by Stanley/Barker this year. He also has work in the recent Barbican exhibition Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography.
A special thanks to Stanley/Barker for sending images.