Curator Tatiana Muñoz Brenes (all images courtesy of Tatiana Muñoz Brenes)

The month of June is a time to celebrate LGBTQ communities. It’s a moment to reflect on the rich history and culture of the queer community, as well as more recent advances made in the realm of civil liberties. This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many queer individuals are navigating greater risks to their health, safety, and livelihoods.

Cognizant of the need to stay connected and elevate queer voices amid uncertainty, Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one queer art worker per day on our website and asking them to reflect on what this time means to them. If you identify as a queer art worker, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to learn more about how to participate. 

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What’s your name?

Tatiana Muñoz Brenes

Where are you based currently? 

Costa Rica

Describe who you are and what you do.

I am an art historian and a psychologist. I am a curator at the Museum of Identity and Pride, or MIO (for its initials in Spanish, which is really a queer pun: when you say it, you are saying “MY Museum,” because we want everyone to feel this as a secure space for their own). It’s the first museum space in Costa Rica and Central America with a LGBTQI+ theme. We seek to collect the history and memory of the queer community in our country, and we are actually living a historical moment right now: last month, [Costa Rica] legalized the same sex marriage, becoming the 29th country in the world to take this step. We hope this achievement will be embraced across the region… and become an example to the world!

Curator Tatiana Muñoz Brenes stands in front of a Pride exhibition in 2019

Tell us about your greatest achievement or something you’ve done lately that you’re proud of.

I am deeply proud to be an activist fighting for the LGBTQI + community and [to have fought for] the legalization of same sex marriage — more than an achievement, it is a historical landmark in my country.

Favorite ways to celebrate your queerness and community?

I love using the colors of the rainbow or the bisexual flag, and having objects that identify us as a group. I like to celebrate with joy, a parade, a beer…

What’s been top of mind for you lately?

What I can’t get out of my head lately is the new role museums and art workers [stand to play] in the upcoming times. I’m really done with the “neutral museum” and the “non-political curatorship” pretending in some institutions. As a woman, as a Latina, as a bisexual, I’m concerned about equality, diversity, respect, decolonization, human rights, and happiness. We need artists, curators, researchers, etc., to be critical and to take an ethical and political clear position if we want to be a valid sector with a voice in these new times. Cultural spaces must generate dialogue and questioning, instead of being just white cubes.

YouTube video

Talk to us about your immediate queer community/support systems. (Feel free to shout out other folks or organizations you think are doing important work.)

The queer community in Costa Rica is increasingly  united and has more representation in cultural spaces and politics. As a museum, we are able to form alliances with diverse non-governmental organizations, pro-diversity political parties, activist groups, and other museums and associations. In research I’m conducting in this moment, it looks like there are around 100 collectives for the queer cause around the country.

How are you celebrating Pride Month this time around?

I want to celebrate with my queer friends on a virtual platform (which is a shame), wear my flag’s colors, and have a bottle of wine with my cats by my side. Although we won’t have the happy parade we are used to this year, I think Pride in 2020 is making us think beyond our local bubble, and instead [many] are receiving a call to be more introspective and socially aware at the same time. We must be thankful for the lessons this crisis is giving us — the virus and the anti-racist [uprisings] that are moving our planet — and for the opportunity that all of this is giving us to construct a “new normal.” So, politically speaking, Pride in 2020 is [especially] relevant for an intersectional activism.

The staff of the Museum of Identity and Pride

Are there ways you think queer artists and art workers could be better supported?

I think we can always be better supported. Despite the fact that the cultural sector in Costa Rica is one of those that make us most visible, much funds are needed, as well as curatorial research and new artistic exhibitions.

In the communities that you’re part of, what are you hoping to see shift in the future?

I want the younger generations to grow up in Costa Rica (and around the world) with a naturalized mind towards the LGBTIQ + community. Ideally, I would like the more conservative sectors (the church, certain political parties, and boomers) to accept us and live in a society of love, not hate.

What’s the first thing you’re planning to do when it feels safer to physically gather again?

Go swimming again

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Dessane Lopez Cassell is a New York based editor, writer, and film curator, as well as the former reviews editor at Hyperallergic. You can follow her work here.