Nobody Promised You Tomorrow

Brooklyn Museum exhibit explores how Stonewall inspired LGBTQ artists

May 30, 2019 - 11:14 am

In 1969, New York City’s Greenwich Village was a “safe place” for young adults who were part of what was considered an underground LGBTQ community. The Stonewall Inn was one of those places, a refuge for those who hid behind ‘society approved’ clothing, behavior, and faces. Stonewall was free of judgment. Even so, these venues were frequently targeted and raided by police.  

“The 1960s were dark ages for lesbians and gay men all over America. The overwhelming number of medical authorities said that homosexuality was a mental defect, maybe even a form of psychopathy," legal scholar William N. Eskridge once said.

The exhibition “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” will honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, as well as explore the protests through the works of more than 20 LGBTQ contemporary artists born after the historic event and currently working in New York.

The exhibition’s title “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow” is attributed to Marsha P. Johnson, an African American, a drag queen, transgender, and a gay rights activist who was a significant instigator during the Stonewall riots. Born in New Jersey, Johnson made her mark in New York City’s gay, transgender, and art scene in the ’60s.

"I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville until I became a drag queen. That's what made me in New York, that's what made me in New Jersey, that's what made me in the world,” said Marsha P. Johnson, who died in 1992.

“Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” will run from May 3 to December 8 at The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art (4th Floor) at the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition will feature the importance of the Stonewall uprising and its impact past and present. It will also highlight the voices of the significant activist figures who had limited visibility and dealt with oppression during that moment in time, and how it ignited the LGBTQ liberation movement, not only in the United States, but around the world. Attendees can also access an interactive resource room where they can engage through LGBTQ histories, connect with local and community organizations working today.

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