Prizm News / September 3, 2019 / By Staley Jophiel Munroe

The Columbus Museum of Art’s LGBTQ+ and Allied membership is excited to celebrate the launch of its second season

LGBTQ+ art lovers and party people rejoice! The best of both worlds is set to occur at the second annual “Loud and Proud” Season 2 Kickoff Party on September 27th at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Prizm spoke with organizer Gabriel Mastin to share what’s in store with the Museum’s hottest affinity group, and why such an initiative is so important.

(See the gallery below for images from the 2018 Loud and Proud event.)

Gabriel Mastin at the 2018 Loud and Proud event. Photo by Victoria L. Son

What is Loud and Proud all about?

Loud and Proud is the Museum’s first ever LGBTQ+ and Allied membership to the Museum.  Loud and Proud is about celebrating the enormous contribution that the LGBTQ+ community is making and has made to the art world.  Loud and Proud creates a safe space where members can come together to celebrate LGBTQ+ artists in our community, learn about LGBTQ+ history, hear often untold stories of LGBTQ+ artists, and have fun with intent!

How did Loud and Proud come to exist, and why was it important to CMOA to create it?

Having an LGBTQ+ group at the Columbus Museum of Art has been a dream of mine for more than a decade.  Since coming to my first event at the Museum over a decade ago, I have found the Museum to be a welcoming, safe environment where being me is not only OK but celebrated. When the Picasso exhibition came to the Museum in 2016, my friend Cory and I organized the “Big Gay Tour” of 2016.  The evening entailed a gaggle (20 or so) of us being given a guided tour of the Picasso exhibition by our Chief Curator, David Stark, followed by dinner in our café.  It was a special evening!  In 2017, we hosted an Art for Life On the Town experience for 20 Equitas Health patrons called Mysteries of the Museum.  We designed the evening to tour works of art in our permanent collection to highlight LGBTQ+ artists and their stories.  People’s eyes lit up and teared up while hearing the stories, the joys, and the struggles of these artists.  Through these and many other experiences it became clear that our LGBTQ+ community would delight in having a space to call their own at the Columbus Museum of Art.  We spent a year meeting with community leaders to vet the idea.  The resounding answer was YES.  Yes, the LGBTQ+ and Allied community wants a space to call their own at the Museum!  The Museum believes in great experiences with great art for all and  Loud and Proud embodies our core values at the CMA.

Photo by Victoria L. Son

What mission does Loud and Proud serve, and why should people be excited to support?

Artists are people too, with lives and stories. We believe that art comes to life when you know the story about the artist. CMA’s collection encompasses artists from diverse backgrounds, telling inclusive stories about the human experience. With our Loud & Proud members, CMA will highlight LGBTQ+ artists, as well as art with subject matter relevant to the LGBTQ+ community. CMA is proud of our LGBTQ+ artists. We’re proud of our collection. We’re proud to create a great experience with great art for the LGBTQ+ community who we invite to be loud and proud at CMA. We are proud of you, our members!  Supporting Loud and Proud is supporting a more radical and inclusive Ohio.  Supporting Loud and Proud is giving a voice to the LGBTQ+ experience, existence, and influence on the art world.

Was this initiative successful last year? By what measures?

We dreamed of having 300 people at our launch last September.  We were overjoyed, brought to tears, and humbled when approximately 800 of our community members celebrated the launch of Loud and Proud with us.  Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine such a spectacular amount of support!  Nina West, Equitas Health, Prizm, The Gay Men’s Chorus, and a bevy of artists helped us welcome our 800 guests and thanked them for their show of support.  Almost 10 percent of attendees joined as members of Loud and Proud.  Eachof the six Loud and Proud events last year were better attended and received than we could have imagined.  We think the main success is seeing people able to be themselves and feel at home at the CMA. 

Photo by Victoria L. Son

Were there any challenges in creating this new model?

Starting a new membership level at the Museum is no small task.  It took many hands and minds almost two years to get all the pieces needed together. Our leadership team, staff, and board of trustees could not have been more supportive.  Our community supported us every step of the way and continues to give us that boost of energy we need.

Give us some teasers about what to expect at the 2019 edition of Loud and Proud…

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.  The CMA team has been working for seven(!) years on Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989! This groundbreaking exhibition organized by the CMA has traveled from NYC to Miami FL and will come home to Columbus on March 6th, 2020.  Loud and Proud members can expect more LGBTQ+ art, experiences, and programming than ever before. It is an exciting time here at the CMA.  Come join us!

Interested in joining Loud & Proud? Visit the Special Interests Groups page or contact Bethany Simms, membership coordinator, at membership@ cmaohio.org or 614.629.0344.

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All Photos by Victoria L. Son