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      View from EntranceEast and North Walls

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      Daren YoungEast Wall Installation.2

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      Daren YoungEast Wall Installation.1

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      Daren YoungEast Wall Installation.detail.2

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      North Wall-Andrew Graham Installation

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      View from EntranceWest and North Walls

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.3:4 view

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.full view

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.detail center

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.detail left

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.detail left.2

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.detail right

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.detail right.2

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.flatscreen detail.1

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.flatscreen detail.2

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      Daren YoungWest Wall Installation.flatscreen detail.3

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      View From North East CornerSouth and West Walls

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      View from North West CornerSoutheast Corner

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      Andrew GrahamSouth Wall Installation.1

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      Andrew GrahamSouth Wall Installation.right grouping

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      Andrew GrahamSouth Wall Installation.left grouping

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      1. One of these scouts is not like the others 1969 — Age 8 I began to realize I was different than the other boys in my small home town of Spanish Fork, Utah about the same time I started scouting. I wasn’t exactly sure what made me different from them, but I knew something just wasn’t the same. My budding attraction towards other males was only a part of this dissimilarity; it had more to do with the very essence of the person I was becoming. 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      2. Sissy 1971 — Age 10 I was always far more interested in things that most boys my age couldn’t have cared less about, such things as cooking, art, music, reading and fashion. I most definitely didn’t like sports and seemed to prefer hanging out with girls more than with the other boys. My mother actually seemed to encourage this behavior although I know my father was rather perplexed by it. 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      3. Boys will be boys… 1973 — Age 12 Like most boys, once I had discovered masturbation I couldn’t get enough of it. The big difference, though, was that while other boys were thinking about women while they did it, I found myself fantasizing about men. I can especially remember the mileage I got from that magazine photo of Mark Spitz in his Speedo with all those gold medals around his neck. Oh, my…! 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      4. My first crush 1974 — Age 13 My parents thought getting a paper route would help teach me the value of hard work. Little did they know I would develop my first major crush on a cute teenage boy a few years older than me who lived along my route. I always managed to find ways to be around his house especially during the times he would be out mowing the lawn wearing nothing but his cut-off shorts! 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      5. The pedophile (Or, my best friend’s 26-year-old cousin) 1975 – Age 14 My best friend from junior high had an older cousin, Robert, who lived with my friend’s family. Robert did really cool things like take us to R-rated drive-in movies and give us booze. I thought he was a pretty great guy; that is, until the night he decided to collect on all those favors. I refused to talk to my best friend afterwards, blaming him for what happened. Of course, it was years later that I realized Robert had probably been doing the same thing to my friend. 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      6. I’m not alone 1976 — Age 15 Right after my freshman year in high school, and at a time I was feeling especially lonely and alienated, I decided to learn more about why I was having these same-gender attractions. I read two books that summer that changed my life: The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren and Consenting Adult by Laura Z. Hobson. These books helped me put a name to what I knew all along, that I might actually be gay. 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      7. My first kiss 1977 — Age 16 At the end of my sophomore year, my friend Steve and I were hanging out together and somehow the topic of homosexuality came up. We both eventually got up the nerve to tell each other we thought we might be gay. One thing led to another and we ended up kissing. I’ll never forget that very awkward and nervous moment as long as I live... I had finally kissed another guy! 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      8. Call me… 1977 — Age 16 Once I had discovered the joy of kissing another man, I was ready for more. But my friend Steve had gone away for the summer to stay with his sister in California. So at my next haircut, I decided to include a note with the tip I gave to my stylist, asking him to call me. He did, and Doug and I went out on a date the next night. After going to the movie Star Wars and eating Chinese food, I lost my virginity. 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      9. A whole new world 1977 — Age 16 Doug and I got together quite a bit during that summer. It didn’t matter that he was five years older than me and the only thing we had in common was sex. One night Doug took me to The Sun, a gay bar in Salt Lake City (I got in with a fake ID). I had never seen so many gay people at one time or so many different types of gay people, everyone from drag queens and leather men to lesbians, go-go boys, and even gay cowboys! 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      10. Intervention 1977 — Age 16 Once Steve got back from California and found out about my relationship with Doug, he was very hurt and reported me to my Mormon Church bishop. I was required to confess everything to the bishop, and was given books and pamphlets to read about the horrors and evils of homosexuality. The bishop also told my parents, and I was immediately put into therapy and forbidden to ever see Doug again. 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      11. Pariah 1978 — Age 17 Steve didn’t stop at outing me to my bishop and parents. He began spreading rumors about me at school, as well. I went from being the popular class president to becoming the school freak. Friends started avoiding me; classmates would laugh and make rude comments about me; no one would sit near me. Feeling completely abandoned and ostracized, I seriously considered suicide as an escape. 2007 Graphite on Bristol board 15 x 15” (Facsimile, inkjet print, edition of one)

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      12. Reparative therapy 1978 — Age 17 I completely credit my psychiatrist, Dr. Tuttle, for saving my life. He helped me deal with my depression and suicidal feelings. However, he was also assigned to cure my homosexuality through reparative therapy in which I was forced to abhor anything gay, and replace homosexual thoughts and feelings with those for the opposite gender. He tried several different kinds of treatments including hypnotherapy and aversion therapy. I was told if I wanted to change bad enough, I could.” Note about this piece: I wore a rubber band on my wrist and was required to snap it each time I had a homosexual thought or desire. This was to make me connect my same-sex attraction with pain. I was also monitored with electrodes to see how I would react to homoerotic images and was given hypnotic suggestions in which I would become nauseated when I looked at such imagery.) Epilogue 2008 — Age 47 All things considered, everything eventually turned out just fine. While I continued therapy for several more years, tried dating girls, and eventually went on a Mormon mission, I finally came to the realization that there was nothing I could do to change my sexual orientation. In 1983, I met my soul mate, and he and I have been together ever since. I am luckier than many young men and women who are struggling with their sexuality. While my story has a happy ending, there are so many others who may succumb to feelings of worthlessness and despair, and either choose a path of destructive behavior or ultimately take their own lives. By sharing my own particular story

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      Andrew-Graham—South-Wall-Installation.left-grouping.detail-1

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      Andrew-Graham—South-Wall-Installation.left-grouping.detail-2

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      Andrew-Graham—South-Wall-Installation.left-grouping.detail-3

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      Andrew-Graham—South-Wall-Installation.right-grouping.detail-1

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      Andrew-Graham—South-Wall-Installation.right-grouping.detail-2

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      Andrew-Graham—South-Wall-Installation.right-grouping.detail-3

Andrew Graham, Daren Young—Tough Love

Complexities of Social Justice
Part II

December 18, 2008 - February 6, 2009


Andrew Graham, Daren Young—Tough Love


Your sexual preference is not a choice; your sexual identity is not a choice. I tried to deny my sexual identity for years and tried to ‘fix it’ and ‘become normal,’ but it doesn’t work that way.
Bruce Bastian, On Point, NPR, 12/1/08

Homosexuality and its acceptance have doomed most of the world to eternal damnation.
Fred Phelps, Sr., It Could Get Ugly, The Winnipeg Sun, 8/8/2008

Omnia vincit Amor. [Love conquers all.]
Virgil, Eclogue X, Eclogues, circa 44 BC


The second of three art exhibitions exploring themes of social justice, tough love examines gay rights, samesex marriage and specific anti-gay rhetoric through the eyes of two emerging artists, Daren Young and Andrew Graham (‘99). Juxtaposing their work contributes to the ongoing dialogue about LGBTQ politics, first amendment rights and issues of equality. Coupling Young's and Graham's particular works offer a glimpse at two marginalized groups advocating for opposing shifts in thought. While far from being an attempt to tackle the whole argument, tough love nevertheless acts as a portrait and a contemporary snapshot of our cultural dilemma around alternative lifestyles and rights—or the lack thereof—regarding the interpretation of some of our most cherished laws, ideals and institutions. One the surface, tough love is a juxtaposition of seemingly diametrically opposed artistic and moralistic points of view—one artist’s work pro-LGBTQ rights, the other artist’s against such rights. However, tough love is not so much about identifying one side or the other as much as it is about urging us to go beyond superficial judgment to take a closer look at the deep rooted feelings, longings, and the trappings and emotional blockades that engulf same gender love.

The work of Daren Young (Salt Lake City, Utah) explores issues of “normalcy” from homosexual and heterosexual points of view. In particular, his drawings series Snapshots from My Youth: Pivotal Moments from 1969 to 1978—a series of well-crafted children’s book-like illustrations presented as Polaroids from a scrapbook—evocatively provides the personal insight of his struggle to acknowledge his sexuality. Concomitantly, his provocative multimedia documentary style installation, You’re Invited: A Virtual Wedding, focuses on eight same-gender couples who share there experiences about the pros and cons of same sex marriage through documentary interviews, while his “snapshot” drawings of each couple symbolically retains their testimony. Few artists blend stand alone drawing with moving video images, but Young’s leaves a lasting and haunting impression. Young has only recently turned to art as a vehicle for his activism and has already established himself as a key player in the ongoing drama of queer politics in his home state. The Thompson Gallery would have been very pleased to exhibit Young’s actual drawings, however, his solo exhibition Homo/evocative—which runs during the same dates as the present show—is the first major focus on his work in his hometown and we salute this concurrent event by providing “virtual copies” of his work for tough love.

An informed look is required to get past the surface messages imbedded in Graham’s paintings—painted replicas of the placards, which Fred Phelps and his ministry at the Westboro Baptist Church, [WBC] Topeka, Kansas, use during there now infamous and notorious anti-gay protests at various events, which include gay pride gatherings, military funerals, Christian and political gatherings. Graham’s work does not so much give credence to the actions and doings of the Phelps family and ministry as much as it points to it. Graham wants to insure it is duly considered and discussed, but is reticent to speak up about his own politics or “which side he is on”—preferring a more neutral position that forces viewers to make up their own minds. Graham wants his sign paintings to “raise questions about organized religion,” which in his view is in great need of reform in many sects, citing the WBC as a potent example. Graham follows the WBC’s events and is quite literally becoming a WBC aficionado with an aim to keep a watchful eye and report back what he finds. Graham’s work is complicated to consider as it not only exposes some gray areas of the first amendment—as evidenced by the WBC’s didactics and their tactics of picketing just about everyone—but also because of the subtle irony in the work. “Taking sides” is furthermore exacerbated in light of the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act” and Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius’ bill signed into law establishing a 150-foot no-picketing buffer zone around funerals—both these legislative acts are government responses to hinder the WBC. In this context, Graham’s paintings oscillate between the rights of free speech versus the wholesale apocalypse and hatred promoted by the WBC’s imagery. Impeccably painted, the ugly messages require adopting the WBC’s attitudes in order to understand their precise meaning.

Thus, the place where Young’s and Graham’s art intersect is one that points to the heart of their matter, so to speak—the exhibition’s namesake. Graham captured the essence with these words:

‘Tough’ can be seen as 'difficult to understand'—considering homosexuality, or any sexuality—it can also be seen? as ‘strong,' 'resilient,' 'able to withstand,' and in that sense, talks about the power of truth. A ‘tough love’ would be a love that has struggled enormously and yet has survived. A ‘tough love' would also be the Phelps family's love of their God, and religion in general. There is also of course the term as it applies to parents and their kids, or teachers and their students and so on, as it is used to refer to a technique of 'behavior modification.' This 'cruel to be kind' way of thinking is at the core of the WBC's reasoning, both in how they see themselves and in how they perceive their God. They picket funerals and terrorize people to 'save souls' just as ‘God sends hurricanes and flies planes into buildings to do the same.’ In terms of the current equal rights climate with California's Prop. 8 amendment and such, the law takes on this authoritative role, looking after it's citizens by punishing them. Love is the behavior these laws attempt to modify. A ‘tough love’ then starts to look identical to hate. Maybe they are one in the same?

Indeed, we use the phrase “tough love” when we find ourselves acting out of a complex situation of balancing perceived, positive ideals with known negative actions, and when we are compelled to do “the hard thing,” or “the right thing” precisely because of intense feelings of devotion, despite the hardship that such actions cause. When you add the notion of social justice to this kind of emotionally charged thinking, the complexity compounds and splinters even more. Ultimately, tough love questions the morality behind the clash of cultural versus private “pursuits of happiness.”


Todd Bartel
Gallery Director, Curator
Thompson Gallery
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The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.