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Martin Wong, “Big Heat” (1986) at the Whitney Museum (photo by Ben Sutton for Hyperallergic)

Today is a wonderful day for equality, as LGBTQ couples are now able to marry anywhere in the United States just like their heterosexual peers. It is no longer “gay marriage” but simply marriage, which is how it should’ve always been.

As people across the country celebrate with the hashtag #LoveWins, here are three fantastic artworks exploring queer love. The best part is they are all currently on display in New York if you’re in town this weekend for Pride.

Martin Wong’s “Big Heat” at the Whitney Museum

Two male New York City firefighters make out against the backdrop of a Manhattan tenement building. It’s sparse, it’s hot, it even feels decadent, yet typifies what we expect from legendary Lower East Side artist Martin Wong.

A queer Asian American artist born in Portland, Oregon, he moved to San Francisco before deciding to try his luck in New York after he was dared he couldn’t make it here. He settled in Losaida on the Lower East Side and was the partner of renowned poet Miguel Piñero, the man who co-founded the Nuyorican Poets Café and was a leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement.

The painting is hanging at the new Whitney Museum, and I suggest you share a kiss with your loved one in front of it. Love is contagious.

Patricia Cronin’s “Memorial to a Marriage” in the Bronx

Patricia Cronin, “Memorial to a Marriage,” bronze. (all images courtesy Resnicow Schroeder Associates)

Patricia Cronin’s “Memorial to a Marriage” was started years before gay marriage was legal, but today it has a particularly special meaning for those who knew this day would come.

Influenced by Gustave Courbet’s “Le Sommeil (The Sleepers)” (1866), the work depicts the artist and her wife, Deborah Kass, naked in a bed.

While monumental sculpture for cemeteries isn’t a focus of many contemporary artists, Cronin’s marker is a beautiful addition that is sure to become a beloved landmark at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s “The Sofa” at the Met Museum

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s “The Sofa” (c.1894–96) (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

It is rare to find art before the 20th century that grapples with same-sex desire and relationships, so Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s “The Sofa” (c.1894–96) is particularly rare — it doesn’t moralize but presents a lesbian couple comfortable being themselves.

There’s something to this pair painted in his studio; the artist said they would “stretch themselves out on the divans … entirely without pretensions.”

The painting is currently hanging in the Metropolitan Museum’s 19th-century European galleries.

Equality for all!

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

2 replies on “Marriage Equality for All! #LoveWins”

  1. Degas’ “The Sofa” is a picture of two prostitutes
    , how is it a “queer picture”?

    1. It is by Toulouse-Lautrec but it depicts a lesbian couple who were also prostitutes. At the time there were few work opportunities for out women and many prostitutes were the only ones who were “out” at the time. I think to think how society has or has not changed in this regard.

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