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The Photographer Who Captured 20th-Century Queer Life | The Atlantic

Joan E. Biren’s images from the ’70s and ’80s—which appear in the new exhibit “Art After Stonewall”—reflect an effort...

Joan E. Biren’s images from the ’70s and ’80s—which appear in the new exhibit “Art After Stonewall”—reflect an effort to document and encourage lesbian love.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series about the gay-rights movement and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

In her classic 1975 self-portrait, the lesbian photographer Joan E. Biren (or “JEB,” as she is more commonly known) tacitly shifts the meaning of a road sign. Smiling, with a glint in her eye, she leans comfortably against the post, her confident posture signaling a reconfiguration of the word emblazoned above her head: dyke points not to the Virginia town the sign is announcing, but to the photographer herself. Self-Portrait, Dyke, VA (1975) is a reclamation of the slur and a confrontation with all but JEB’s most kindred viewers.

Featured Image: JEB’s confident self-portrait—along with dynamic photographs from various LGBTQ demonstrations—lines the outside of the Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York City. KRISTINE EUDEY / LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM

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Written by Hannah Giorgis
Hannah Giorgis is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers culture. [The Wriit-created profile was established to offer the proper attribution & credit for the featured Writer. The profile was created by Wriit and does not reflect the Writer’s association with the publication, and may be updated (claimed) by the Writer upon request.] Profile

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