The Queens Museum rolled out a mural this fall that shines a light on Black trans femme activists and artists leading social justice movements in New York City.
The mural, dubbed “Black, Trans, & Alive (Qweens Song),” stretches across the side of the Queens Museum at New York City Building, Meridian Road in Corona, Queens. The artwork, unveiled on October 1, depicts some of the stars in the city’s activist scene, including GLITS founder Ceyenne Doroshow; the founders of the Stonewall Protests, Qween Jean and Joela Rivera; and Aaron Philip, a transgender model and grand marshal of the 2021 Pride March.
The artwork is part of a series from Not a Monolith, a public art project that seeks to showcase the diversity of the Black community. The mural also features journalist and trans advocate Raquel Willis and artist Joshua Allen. In a press release, the Queens Museum said they are providing free educational programming alongside the artwork.
Glori Tuitt, an illustrator, painter, and Black woman of trans experience, created the mural to highlight Black trans femme historical figures who are bringing attention to issues facing the community. The BTFA Collective, a trans art organization, and GLITS Inc., an LGBTQ advocacy group, also threw their weight behind the project.
Qween Jean, one of the activists featured in the mural, told Gay City News she was stunned when she first saw the artwork. The mural shows Jean donning a yellow dress and butterfly clips — a nod to one of several iconic looks she sported during a protest this year denouncing the actions of the NYPD and calling for an end to racism and white supremacy.
“It’s refreshing, honestly, to be able to have imagery and a moment of celebration that is not attached to pain, trauma, or death,” Jean said regarding the mural. “As we take big breaths, and we should also be able to have and see it reflected in our history…our present and our future.”
The mural comes at a time of growing visibility and disproportionately high levels of violence facing Black trans people, especially Black trans women in the US. Jean said it’s inspiring to see paintings of Black trans bodies inked for the world to see.
“We are alive, and we are not just a statistic, we are not just an afterthought, we are not the painful, traumatic experiences that we have actually overcome,” she said. “Being able to bear witness to Glori’s masterpiece is truly, truly breathtaking.”
The mural will be open to the public until next spring.
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