Home Fashion Wrightwood 659 Documents 1980s Black Gay Chicago in “Patric McCoy: Take My Picture”

Wrightwood 659 Documents 1980s Black Gay Chicago in “Patric McCoy: Take My Picture”

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take my picture is a rich document on the Black gay Chicago of the 1980s, organized by Juarez Hawkins. Long before the selfie phenomenon, a young Patric McCoy cycled through Chicago, always with his camera. Over a 10-year period, he took thousands of images of black men who asked to be photographed. The Rialto Tap fed McCoy’s muse. The South Loop bar was one of the few places where black men could socialize and flirt with other black men. From drag queens to downtown professionals, the Rialto brought together men from all walks of life, providing a steady stream of subjects for McCoy and his camera.

Throughout the 1980s, HIV/AIDS hit black men particularly hard. Thousands of people would die before the decade was out, including many of McCoy’s friends, lovers, and subjects. take my picture becomes even more important as a marker of place, time and memory. McCoy intended to fulfill an unspoken need to see black men.

In the following question taken from his interview with Wrightwood 659McCoy reflects on his work:

Q: You said you didn’t realize there was such a hunger for black men to photograph. Where do you think this desire comes from?

McCoy: Well, it’s rampant. I think every individual craves to be portrayed in a recognizable and positive light. People want to see themselves and be represented. That’s why we go to museums to look at pictures. They help us reflect on who we are. White society at large has had centuries in which their images have been represented and projected as important. But African Americans – we don’t have a long history of such; it’s really new.

take my picture is one of three exhibitions on view at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago through July 15.

For more information, visit wrightwood659.org.

Exhibits are presented by Alphawood Exhibitions at Wrightwood 659.

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