LGBTQ* Art, Graphics and Advertising History
How the (Zebra) Got Its Spots
Mattachine Society Inc, of New York 1966
Poster reads: Homosexuals are different…. but… we believe they have the right to be. We believe that the civil rights and human dignity of homosexuals are as precious as those of any other citizen… we believe that the homosexual has the right to live, work and participate in a free society.
Mattachine defends the rights of homosexuals and tries to create a climate of understanding and acceptance.
(note: The Mattachine Society was one of the first public support/ally/equality resource groups in the United States. )
I know this isn’t on the more ‘extreme’ subject matter I tend to post, but I’ve loved this poster for a year or so now. It’s incredibly cute, utterly sweet and it embodies mentality I believe everyone should have when addressing any issue:
It’s important to realise that everybody has differences that they cannot control. Whether it’s in terms of sexuality, gender identity, obscure fantasies, weight, appearance, ability (the list goes on), the key to genuine, heartfelt acceptance is through the understanding that difference is a good thing.
I’ve seen people in the LGBT community hating on femme dudes for “not fitting in with the crowd and making gays look freaky or annoying”, I’ve seen supposedly ‘sex-positive’ campaigns tell people to ‘fix’ their stranger desires, rather than to educate themselves and become comfortable and considerate with their attractions. I’ve seen perfectly well-meaning people unknowingly perpetuate bodyshaming and transphobic cultural standards simply by using phrases which imply that these people should be working to blend in with society and become a part of “The Norm”.
Instead, this simple, aged poster offers more of a positive message than what I’ve heard people in my own generation say today: you don’t need to “have your place”, but you don’t have to feel like a rebel for stepping outside of what is seen as normality - you have aspects that others may not be able to relate to or understand, but that does not determine your worth as a member of society. You have your right to exist in your truest form.
Maybe it’s just the cute zebra, but every time I see this poster I can’t help but feel a little bit better.