None of us is free until all of us are free - LGBTQAI+ campaign for the charity The Triangle Project.
"Maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary."
Black Panthers co-founder, Huey Newton 1970.
Whilst researching materials for the exhibition "Riot! Celebrating Stonewall's Anniversary" I was struck by a photograph, taken in 1972 at the Los Angeles Christopher Street West Pride Parade, by the celebrated photographer and activist Cathy Cade. The photo shows three young black children holding signs, one of which has the slogan "None of us is free until all of us are free". The slogan paraphrased Martin Luther King's “Poor People's Campaign and an Economic Bill of Rights” speech:
"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of the others…"
While Dr King was not an advocate of LGBT rights (nor he was against them) the Black Panthers party chairman, Huey Newton, certainly was. In a 1970 speech in New York, he outlined his desire to collaborate with the women's liberation movement as well as with the gay liberation front.
The slogan "None of us is free until all of us are free" which is much associated with Dr King, has an even longer lineage. It was coined in 1887 by the Jewish American author and activist Emma Lazarus. Lazarus is best known for "The New Colossus". Celebrating America as a safe space for migrants and refugees, its lines are transcribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
A century later, echoing these words, Audre Lorde, the black American writer and activist, during the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979 declared:
"I am proud to raise my voice here in this day as a black, lesbian feminist committed to struggle for a world where all our children can grow free from the diseases of racism, of sexism, of classism, and of homophobia. For those oppressions are inseparable."
And yet, because not all of us are free, in 2020 Black Lives Matter amplified the voices of other oppressed communities such as transgenders, the Palestinian people and the economically disadvantaged.
In recognition of the necessity for solidarity in the struggle of an array of oppressed groups, I came up with the idea of the photography project "None of us is free until all of us are free". The project was commissioned by Brighton Pride and exhibited at the SEAS' Riot! Exhibition at the Black and Minorities Ethnic Community Partnership (BMECP) Centre in 2019.
The project was continued in early 2020 as part of an artist residency at Greatmore Studios in Cape Town, South Africa. Supported by the Triangle Project charity, the project, was carried out with LGBT people from the Western Cape townships. It aimed to raise awareness of the difficulties LGBT people face in the townships and more generally in African countries where they are still persecuted or discriminated against. After a short introduction and a meal, the participants were asked to write campaign slogans about issues they cared about and would like to change. They were then photographed with a unicorn, a non-binary mythical creature that symbolises a desire for something that is not there (yet). The project participants had to stay anonymous, and their faces were disguised with "national flowers" of various African countries. The project includes testimonies collected by the Triangle Project of LGBT people affected by the intersection of their sexuality, gender, poverty and migration.
To learn more about the Triangle Project, please visit:
Cape Town is Burning
Mr & Miss Cape Town Pride is one of the highlights of Cape Town Pride. It is a mixture of 80s Harlem Ballroom, Rupaul’s Drag Race and a beauty pageant - minus the body fascism that is the essence of the latter. More than the Pride party itself, the ball is served and adored by the BIPOC community, which is still marginalised from Cape Town’s mainly white gay scene. It took place far from the "nice part of town" or even from the downtown where most of the gay venues are, but at the city’s edge near one of its satellite townships.
Invited by the producers to document the event, I decided to concentrate on backstage - photographing the competitors while they got ready to parade. What moved me the most was the love, tenderness and mutual care among the participants. I felt honoured and grateful to be there.
Gil Mualem-Doron (UK/Israel) is an award-winning socially and politically engaged artist working in various media; primarily photography, digital art, installation and performance using participatory practices. His work investigates issues such as urban history, social justice, identity, transcultural aesthetics, migrations and displacement. His work has been exhibited in places such as Tate Modern, Turner Contemporary, the South Bank Centre, People History Museum, Eretz’ Israel Museum and Haifa Museum of Art (Israel).
You can view more of Gil's work at www.gmdart.com or via his Instagram @gil_mualem_doron.